Sunday, October 14, 2012

Query help

I'm not ready to start sending Sidewalks out yet, but it's never too early to start working on a kick-ass query.  So while I wait on my readers to finish the MS, I've been trying out query ideas.  And now I need some outside eyes across it.  I know it's not great yet and it needs to be.  So can you help me out?

Dear Agent of my Dreams,

#Insert personal info here and reason for choosing# I thought you might be interested in The Sidewalk's Regrets, my 84 000 word novel.

Seventeen year-old Sacha McLeod has never had time for rock music.  She’s far too busy practicing her violin, always focused on the next competition or workshop on the horizon.  She doesn’t expect a trip to the music store to replace a broken E-string to change her life.  But when she hears the guy playing guitar, something about the music grabs her gut and won’t let go.

She accepts an invitation from the guitarist, Dylan, and goes to see his band play.  The energy, violence and unpredictability of the music thrills her and she falls hard for Dylan and his wild, inventive sound.  

Sacha’s not alone in crushing on the band’s music.  A record label owner sees their live show and offers them the opportunity to move to the city and record.  With stars in their eyes, the band accept.  When her plans for the summer are shattered, Sacha jumps at the opportunity to spend time with Dylan in the city.

She’s expecting an idyllic summer filled with romance, passion and music, but tensions grow as the band, cramped in a filthy basement apartment, with little money and few opportunities to play, sink into depression and self-destructive behavior.   When Sacha finds herself playing second fiddle to Dylan’s newly acquired drug habit, she realizes that despite what the songs say, sometimes love isn’t all you need.

How can I make this better?


  1. This sounds exciting! I hope this is what I'll get to read next week ;)

    My main comment here would be: what are the stakes for Sacha. Does she give up violin? How were her summer plans shattered? I need more of an idea of what her goal is and what the choice is - stay with the guy or pursue her violin? At the moment I have an idea that it doesn't work with Dylan and she'll come back home - is this toward the end of the novel?

    I am no good at writing queries so just giving my reaction to this in the hopes it will be useful! :)

    1. Yes, this is the one I'll send you next week. Glad you think it sounds interesting.

      You're right: it does need more stakes. I'm just not sure how to put them in without giving away the whole book.

  2. Sounds interesting, like something I'd read.

    I kinda agree with the above commentor too. But here is my comment. (With a question first.)

    How much of the story takes place after they have moved to the city? Obviously I haven't read this, that's why I ask.

    If 3/4 of the book is about when they're living in the city, I think you need to cut back on those 1st three paragraphs. And do more with the fourth paragraph.

    I just feel like there MIGHT be some unnecessary information in the setup and not enough about what actually happens.

    But as I said, since I haven't read it...

    And besides, that fourth paragraph seems to have the interesting stuff: bad behavior, drugs, depression... I want to hear more about that.

    So that's my non-expert opinion.

    By the way, I like this line a lot: The energy, violence and unpredictability of the music thrills her and she falls hard for Dylan and his wild, inventive sound.

    1. It's about half and half. The first part of the book is the set up of the relationship and the band's growing popularity, and the second half is the part in the city.

    2. I really like the sound of this - would totally read it!

      I agree with Suzi - there seems to be a lot of set up here. And, like the first commenter, I'm not sure I know what the "goal/point" of the story is. Is this a story about Sacha finding her musical voice? Or is a story about a relationship gone bad? If it's both, then how do they tie together?

      For me, the first two paragraphs don't match the last two. Paragraphs one and two are about Sacha. Three and four are about the band, which has me wondering who the main character is - the band or the girl?

      I'd make sure you choose one to focus on - give an overview of Sacha's arc OR the band's.

      Also, love, love, love this: The energy, violence and unpredictability of the music thrills her and she falls hard for Dylan and his wild, inventive sound.

  3. The third paragraph could be condensed into one line.

    When Sacha's summer plans to ___ fizzle, she decides to follow Dylan and the band to NYC.

    Then you can expand a bit more on the last paragraph.

    I think you need to tie in her own dreams with the violin in the end..sorta like...and sometimes your own dreams are more important.

    I love how the query starts. Feels poetic.

    Also, you say city and mention basement apartment...basement apartment sounds more like the suburbs.

  4. I'm late to the game here, but the thing first thing I noticed is that it's too long. You should usually keep the synop to two-three paragraphs(it should be 175 words or less).
    Give Sacha a one or two word description in that first sentence. Break your book into seven plot points and include only that in your query. (If you want/need help with this you can email me).

  5. This isn't really my genre but the story, as you've told it in the query, is very formulaic. "Girl falls for bad boy rocker on the verge of success only to crash and burn in a pile of broken dreams and drugs." Try to highlight why your story is different. What makes your character relateable? What makes her situation unique?