QUERY HELP PLEASE!!! New Revised Copy at End of Post!

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kathleen
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QUERY HELP PLEASE!!! New Revised Copy at End of Post!

Post by kathleen » May 3rd, 2010, 10:59 pm

***REVISED QUERY AT END OF POST!***
This is my query! Please hack it to shreds because my ms is all set to go but I think the query needs some major help!

Dear ____,

Twenty-seven year old Julie Conrad is an assistant at a reputable publishing house in Los Angeles, California. She loves her job but hates her boss who is a social climbing pain in the butt. When she needs to vent her frustrations, she turns to the only forum for which to do it: blogging. With her gay best friend, Joshua, she runs the snarky site, An Alleged Assistant, on which they post commentary about the day-to-day antics of the publishing industry as they see it—no lies, no bull. It all seems so innocent and there is no way anyone will ever find out what they’re doing. After all, the agents at her publishing house have better things to do than worry about an inconsequential blog written by a nobody.

However, Friday December 18th, 2009 is a day that changes Julie’s life as she knows it. She wakes up with a bad hair day and an agent she’s been salivating over for months brings another woman on their date. To top it all off, a vengeful assistant figures out she and Joshua are the creators of An Alleged Assistant and plans to blackmail them or expose them—whichever comes first.

My chick lit novel, BAD ASSISTANT, is complete at 80,000 words. The humor and candor with which Julie tells the story of her life and her career will appeal to fans of Helen Fielding and Sophie Kinsella.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

**Can anyone help me?
Last edited by kathleen on May 4th, 2010, 4:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

ceiser
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Re: QUERY HELP PLEASE!!!

Post by ceiser » May 3rd, 2010, 11:20 pm

Hi, Kathleen. You can see by my attempt at a query that I'm no expert, but this looks pretty good overall. Here are just a few impressions. Hope it's helpful. Good luck! :-)
kathleen wrote:This is my query! Please hack it to shreds because my ms is all set to go but I think the query needs some major help!

Dear ____,

Twenty-seven year old Julie Conrad is an assistant at a reputable publishing house in Los Angeles, California. She loves her job but hates her boss who is a social climbing pain in the butt. When she needs to vent her frustrations, she turns to the only forum for which to do it option/outlet open to her? I think using the word "forum" right before talking about a blog might be a bit confusing or even potentially redundant - I know that's not your intended use of the word, but...: blogging. With her gay best friend, Joshua, she runs the snarky I don't think I ever encountered this word before looking into query writing on the web, could be my limited experience. It might be just right, it might be jargon, it might speak too specifically about Ms. Snark - or I might be crazy site, An Alleged Assistant, on which they post commentary about the day-to-day antics of the publishing industry as they see it—no lies, no bull. It all seems so innocent and there is no way anyone will ever find out what they’re doing. After all, the agents at her publishing house have better things to do than worry about an inconsequential blog written by a nobody a pair of nobodies?.

However, Friday December 18th, 2009 is a day that changes Julie’s life as she knows it. She wakes up with a bad hair day and an agent she’s been salivating over nice! for months brings another woman on their date. To top it all off, a vengeful assistant figures out she and Joshua are the creators of An Alleged Assistant and plans to blackmail them or expose them—whichever comes first. While this does seem like a bad day, I don't know if I can feel the life-changing power of it. What exactly are the stakes? I admit to knowing nothing about chick lit, but it seems like more tension and conflict are necessary here.

My chick lit novel, BAD ASSISTANT, is complete at 80,000 words. The humor and candor with which Julie tells the story of her life and her career will appeal to fans of Helen Fielding and Sophie Kinsella.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

**Can anyone help me?

kathleen
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Re: QUERY HELP PLEASE!!!

Post by kathleen » May 3rd, 2010, 11:33 pm

Thank you for that! I use the word "snarky" because my characters use it often. :)
I agree maybe I haven't made the stakes to high. I am still at a loss as to how to accomplish this. To me, losing my job would be awful. Anyone have some suggestions to piggy back on the crit?

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Re: QUERY HELP PLEASE!!!

Post by mrmerrick » May 4th, 2010, 12:01 am

Dear ____,

Twenty-seven year old Julie Conrad is an assistant at a reputable publishing house in Los Angeles, California. She loves her job but hates her boss, (comma needed) who is a social climbing pain in the butt. When she needs to vent her frustrations, she turns to the only forum for which to do it: blogging. (I agree this needs to change) With her gay best friend, Joshua, she runs the snarky site; An Alleged Assistant, on which they post commentary about the day-to-day antics of the publishing industry as they see it—no lies, no bull (I don't think you need that). It all seems so (cut)innocent and there is no way anyone will ever find out what they’re doing. After all, the agents at her publishing house have better things to do than worry about an inconsequential blog written by a nobody.

However, Friday December 18th, 2009 is a day that changes Julie’s life as she knows it. She wakes up with a bad hair day and an agent she’s been salivating over for months brings another woman on their date. To top it all off, a vengeful assistant figures out she and Joshua are the creators of An Alleged Assistant and plans to blackmail them or expose them—whichever comes first. (This doesn't work for me. Friday the 18th is supposed to change her life, but it seems like she has a bad hair and gets a disappointment from her crush...then you rush through what I assume is the main conflict of your story. The assistant having found out what she's doing...but it seems rushed and needs more explanantion. Expand on what the assistant wants. She is blackmailing them after all so what does SHE want from THEM? How might they accomplish this? You don't need to tell the reader everything, but give them enough to understand what the story is really about. I kind of felt like you spent the entire letter doing the 'set up' to the main conflict, but once you're there you just pass it over in a single quick sentence and it's over, with no follow up as to how they might fix the problem.


My chick lit novel, BAD ASSISTANT, is complete at 80,000 words. The humor and candor with which Julie tells the story of her life and her career will appeal to fans of Helen Fielding and Sophie Kinsella.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sounds like a combination of Ms. Snark and The Rejectionist, I like it. Take my advice with a grain of salt though, I've revised my query 1000 times and I currently am getting critqued on my query as well, which i'm happy to say has been torn apart and is hoping to improve. I don't know why the query can be so difficult but it can. Keep plugging away and you'll get it!!!

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Re: QUERY HELP PLEASE!!!

Post by rainbowsheeps » May 4th, 2010, 12:17 am

kathleen wrote:This is my query! Please hack it to shreds because my ms is all set to go but I think the query needs some major help!

Okay, umm. I hope you like the color blue as much as I do. I hope this doesn't freak you out too much.

Dear ____,

Twenty-seven-year-old Julie Conrad is an assistant at a reputable publishing house in Los Angeles, California. She loves her job, (Missing comma) but hates her boss who is a social climbing pain in the butt ("boss who is..." this phrase could be structured better. Instead, though, I strongly suggest showing this, rather than stating it bluntly. A short sentence could work. "She loves her job, but her boss is always/continuously blah blah blah."). When she needs to vent her frustrations, she turns to the only forum for which to do it: blogging. (I also paused for a millisecond at forum/blogging in the same sentence. I don't think it makes that much of a difference, but just so you know.) With her gay best friend, Joshua, she runs the snarky site, An Alleged Assistant, on which they post commentary about the day-to-day antics of the publishing industry as they see it—no lies, no bull. (The subject/action of this sentence is buried here. The solution can be as simple as changing the order of the clauses: "She runs the snarky site, An Alleged Assistant, with her gay best friend, Joshua. Together, they comment on the day-to-day antics of the publishing industry as they see it—no lies, no bull." Or something.) It all seems so innocent, (Missing comma) and there is no way anyone will ever find out what they’re doing. (I think I understand what you're sort of after with that part, but it stands out in a bad way for some reason. I think you should link the phrase with Julie's reasoning. It will show us some arrogance, or even maybe naivete, on her part. Right now, it just seems odd, and a little too convenient since that's exactly what happens in the next paragraph.) After all, the agents at her publishing house have better things to do than worry about an inconsequential blog written by a nobody. (Alright, here's where I really stopped and had a problem. "The agents at her publishing house?" My experience with the publishing industry is extremely limited, I definitely admit that, but my understanding is that agents work at literary agencies. Editors, executives, publicists, etc, work for publishing houses. Agents sell author's work to publishing houses, but don't actually work for the publishing houses themselves. They work with, but don't work for. As far as I know, anyway. The big problem with this is that, obviously, you'd be querying someone who is literally living the life you're describing here, and if I'm right, this is a major illustration that your understanding of the publishing industry isn't as sharp as it needs to be, which might not bode well for your novel, which seems to explore the inner-workings of this industry, at least to some degree. Umm. Changing the word "agent" to "editor" might help improve the query, but if the same confusion is in the novel, I think it would require uh... more substantial changes. Unless, of course, I'm wrong. Which I might be.)

However, Friday December 18th, 2009 is a day that changes Julie’s life as she knows it. (You don't need the specific date, unless it's really relevant. Also, the day is the subject of the sentence here. Maybe: "Julie's life changes when.." Or something.) She wakes up with a bad hair day, and an agent she’s been salivating over for months brings another woman on their date. ("She wakes up with a bad hair day" is an extremely weak way to start explaining a significant day that changes her entire life, honestly. Also, her hair probably shouldn't be in the same sentence as the agent bringing another woman to their date. The degrees of frustration between the two differ significantly, and it doesn't seem natural to bunch them together. If she really is wanting this guy, she probably wouldn't care about her hair at all, with her focus entirely on her broken heart. Also, is it really a date if he doesn't know not to bring another woman? Lastly, the agent should probably be given a name, and we should probably know why she salivates over him to make us care.) To top it all off, a vengeful assistant figures out she and Joshua are the creators of An Alleged Assistant, (Missing comma, again) and plans to blackmail them or expose them—whichever comes first. (Whichever comes first? That doesn't work here. Either of those require this vengeful assistant doing an action. Neither of them are "coming" to her naturally. One of them presumably requires significantly more effort (blackmail) but could result in a(n) (objectively speaking) bigger reward, namely money. The other, exposing them, could mean she casually lets it slip in the break room, or it could mean she puts it in a memo to every colleague of hers in the building, or the industry. The fact that both "blackmail" and "expose" are so similar in nature, anyway... they both deal with announcing the secret to ruin her life... makes me think maybe you should just say she threatens to expose her secret, and ruin her relationship with all her colleagues and friends.)

My chick lit novel, (I was under the impression that chick lit was dead, but I bet someone else here will know more about it than I do.) BAD ASSISTANT, is complete at 80,000 words. The humor and candor with which Julie tells the story of her life and her career will appeal to fans of Helen Fielding and Sophie Kinsella.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

**Can anyone help me?
If I'm wrong about the agent thing, then I apologize. If I'm right, it needs to be addressed. Obviously, the people you'll be querying know the business, and I think it's something you might want to triple check.

Also, the query in general needs more specifics. Chick lit is very, very far from my preferred genre, so much so that I don't even think I can effectively tell you if the characters you're describing are explained well enough for the genre. Really all I know about her at this point is she gossiped about the people she worked with in secret, she likes an idiot, and there's another assistant who wants to spoil her secret. I can't say if people who are familiar with the genre will like her or not. All I can say is that I, personally, don't have enough of a reason to want to see her succeed, or to even care if this other assistant exposes her.

I apologize if this seems harsh, or overwhelming. I am curious to see the revisions though. Good luck!

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Re: QUERY HELP PLEASE!!!

Post by sperber » May 4th, 2010, 9:02 am

Kathleen,

Your novel sounds fun, but your query sounds very business-like. I think this is what agents are talking about when they say they're looking for a strong voice in a query letter. (They do say that, right?) Maybe add a few more specifics that show the humor and attitude that I'm sure your novel has.

Unbutton your query a little bit and let us see some snark!

Good luck!

Jill

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Re: QUERY HELP PLEASE!!!

Post by kathleen » May 4th, 2010, 10:35 am

Dunno why I put publishing house when I meant agency. Dumb!
I am looking at all your critiques and trying to find the best way to illustrate what I mean without taking out the information!
This is my first query ever and am learning as I go. Any other helpful advice would be greatly appreciated (when I get better at writing a query then I will do the same for you!).

kathleen
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Re: QUERY HELP PLEASE!!!

Post by kathleen » May 4th, 2010, 11:06 am

And chick lit is dead!?!??! I didn't know that? When did this happen?

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Re: QUERY HELP PLEASE!!!

Post by sperber » May 4th, 2010, 11:15 am

kathleen wrote:And chick lit is dead!?!??! I didn't know that? When did this happen?
I just saw an ad for Sex in the City 2. So long as Carrie and the girls are running around, you're safe. ;)

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Re: QUERY HELP PLEASE!!!

Post by kathleen » May 4th, 2010, 11:48 am

I didn't think it was dead because I just bought 4 newly released chick lit books last night at B & N. I was shocked to hear something like that!

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Re: QUERY HELP PLEASE!!!

Post by kathleen » May 4th, 2010, 12:08 pm

REVISED QUERY! What do you think?

Dear ____,

Twenty-seven year old Julie Conrad is an assistant at a reputable literary agency in Los Angeles, California. She loves her job, but hates her boss who abuses her with his rude comments about her abilities as an assistant. If Julie isn’t reading queries, then she is waiting on him hand and foot. When she needs to vent her frustrations, she turns to the only outlet for which to do it: blogging. Julie runs the snarky site, An Alleged Assistant with her gay best friend, Joshua. They post about everything from queries to what their boss screams at them as he sips his morning coffee.

Life in the literary world is pretty mundane until a vindictive co-worker threatens to expose Julie as the writer of An Alleged Assistant. Some people will stop at nothing to climb the ladder to success in the industry, even if it means stabbing another assistant in the back with a ballpoint pen. Mix together a lascivious agent who can’t make up his mind as to whether he wants to use her or date her, and a blog follower who constantly writes her to the point of stalking, and the result may be the synopsis of a horror book even Julie may be unable to blog her way out of this time.

My chick lit novel, BAD ASSISTANT, is complete at 80,000 words. The humor and candor with which Julie tells the story of her life and her career will appeal to fans of Helen Fielding and Sophie Kinsella.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

kathleen
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Re: QUERY HELP PLEASE!!! New Revised Copy at End of Post!

Post by kathleen » May 4th, 2010, 8:25 pm

Thank you to the people helping me, and one stands out the most. Rainbowsheeps, I wish I had a beta like you!!!!!

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Re: QUERY HELP PLEASE!!! New Revised Copy at End of Post!

Post by Quill » May 4th, 2010, 9:06 pm

I'll confess that I'm not a chick lit reader, but I have a couple impressions about your query. Correct me if I'm wrong, there is no life or death type conflict here, so a lot of the appeal is riding on the voice of the book. I'm not sure your query conveys your voice strongly enough. You tell us at the end how much candor and humor is in your story, but I'd like to see more of that in the query. Maybe reference a choice blog or two more specifically. Or some office happenings. In short, maybe make it more snarky.

Other than that:

1. Lose the cliche "waiting on him hand and foot."

2. Streamline the awkward "abuses her with his rude comments about her abilities"

3. "she turns to the only outlet for which to do it". A) Why is this the only outlet? Why not a bottle of booze? B) Improve the awkward "for which to do it."

4.I would never say "Life in the literary world is pretty mundane" because A) The abuse you allude to does not seem mundane, and B) Why give the agent reading your query any reason to suspect that your manuscript may be mundane?

5. Three cliches in one sentence seems too much: "stop at nothing" "climb ladder to success" "stabbing in the back"

6. "who can’t make up his mind as to whether he wants to use her" is a lot words that don't say much. Can you streamline?

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Re: QUERY HELP PLEASE!!! New Revised Copy at End of Post!

Post by kathleen » May 4th, 2010, 9:23 pm

Quill,
I am trying to find a way to make it snarky without using the exact words. Any info you can provide will be much appreciated. I will definitely take your comments into consideration when revising my query! Is there anything I can do for you? I am not well-versed in query writing, but if you let me know I will help!

kathleen
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Re: QUERY HELP PLEASE!!! New Revised Copy at End of Post!

Post by kathleen » May 4th, 2010, 9:57 pm

REVISED...is this okay?

Dear ____,

Twenty-seven year old Julie Conrad is an assistant at a reputable literary agency in Los Angeles, California. She loves her job, but hates her boss who criticizes everything she does and orders her around like a maid. If she isn’t reading queries addressed to him, then she is fetching his dry cleaning or ordering his cappucinos. When she needs to vent her frustrations, she turns to the only outlet for which to do it: blogging. Hey, it’s better than drinking herself into an alcohol induced stupor and blogging about not having a social life. Julie runs the snarky site, An Alleged Assistant, with her gay best friend, Joshua. They post about everything from queries to the rants their boss subjects them to as he sips his morning coffee.

Julie is complacent about her lot in life until a vicious co-worker threatens to expose Julie as the writer of An Alleged Assistant, thus ruining her dreams of ever becoming an agent. Some people will not stop until they get what they want, even if it means stabbing another assistant in the back with a ballpoint pen. Combine a lascivious agent who is undecided about his feelings for her, and a blog follower who constantly writes her to gain her attention, and the result may be the synopsis of a horror novel even Julie may be unable to blog her way out of this time.

My chick lit novel, BAD ASSISTANT, is complete at 80,000 words. The humor and candor with which Julie tells the story of her life and her career will appeal to fans of Helen Fielding and Sophie Kinsella.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

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