Query - Breaking the Rules (Chick Lit)

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Catenabi
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Query - Breaking the Rules (Chick Lit)

Post by Catenabi » November 6th, 2010, 10:29 pm

Hi Everyone!

I've started sending out query letters for my first novel and, so far, I've received two rejections and I'm still waiting for answers from seven other agents.
I'd love to get some feedback/comments on my query from you guys before I send it out to more agents.

Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it! :)

Cheers!

Catherine
http://www.catenabi.blogspot.com

**************************************************************

Dear Ms/Mr X:

BREAKING THE RULES is a fast-paced chick-lit novel that tells the
story of what happens when you have to redefine the rules of love,
friendship and family in order to find yourself.

When twenty-seven year old Roxy Rule throws a party for her best
friend and roommate, Oliver Frost, she tries to put on a brave face so
no one knows that a feeling of dread is comfortably nestled in the pit
of her stomach. So what if he’s leaving New York City for Jolly Ole
England to save the planet with his Green Architecture while she's
stuck being the personal assistant to the World's Most Demanding Boss?
Roxy and Ollie have been best friends since childhood and she knows
that nothing will come between them. She tries to push her mild
jealousy over Ollie’s thriving career aside and ignore the fact that,
over the years, her passion for food has only resulted in extra pounds
and her big-city dream of being a chef feels more unattainable with
every passing day. Still, Roxy is determined to give Ollie an
unforgettable send-off despite being distracted by Ethan, her fiancé,
who has decided to take the non-traditional route for their upcoming
wedding—one that involves suntan lotion and hepatitis vaccines.

When Ollie crosses the fine line between friendship and romance, Roxy
is faced with the breakdown of a relationship she was convinced was
solid. And when her sisters, Steffi and Izzie, land on her doorstep
with issues of their own, Roxy knows that her quiet little apartment
in the city will be anything but peaceful with the Rule sisters living
under the same roof again. After a startling truth comes to light,
Roxy is forced to question the decisions she's made in both her
personal and professional life.

BREAKING THE RULES is my first novel and is complete at 87,000 words.
A synopsis and full manuscript are available upon request.

Thank you very much for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

***************************************************************************************

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Re: Query - Breaking the Rules (Chick Lit)

Post by thewhipslip » November 6th, 2010, 11:50 pm

Overall, it's a well-written query. I had a reaction to the fact that her fiancee was not mentioned earlier. I also think you need to add more drama by telling us what the "startling truth" is. That'll make this specific enough to draw an agent.

Hope that helps!
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Re: Query - Breaking the Rules (Chick Lit)

Post by Catenabi » November 7th, 2010, 9:46 am

Thank you so much for the feedback! :)

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Re: Query - Breaking the Rules (Chick Lit)

Post by Erin » November 7th, 2010, 2:44 pm

Dear Ms/Mr X:

BREAKING THE RULES is a fast-paced chick-lit novel that tells the
story of what happens when you have to redefine the rules of love,
friendship and family in order to find yourself.
[I think this belongs at the bottom. Start strong with "When twenty-seven ..."]

When twenty-seven year old Roxy Rule throws a party for her best
friend and roommate, Oliver Frost, she tries to put on a brave face so
no one knows that a feeling of dread [why?] is comfortably nestled in the pit
of her stomach. So what if he’s leaving New York City for Jolly Ole
England? So what if he's going to save the planet with his Green Architecture while she's
stuck being the personal assistant to the World's Most Demanding Boss?
Roxy and Ollie They have been best friends since childhood and she knows
that
nothing will come between them. Right?

She tries to push her Pushing aside her mild jealousy over Ollie’s thriving career, she tries to ignore the fact that, over the years, her passion for food has only resulted in extra pounds. Not to mention,and her big-city dream of being a chef feels more unattainable with
every passing day. Still, Roxy is determined to give Ollie an
unforgettable send-off despite being distracted by Ethan, her fiancé,
who has decided to take the non-traditional route for their upcoming
wedding—one that involves suntan lotion and hepatitis vaccines. [This needs to be a little tighter. Why is she distracted by her fiance? Is there a reason Ethan decided their wedding?]

When Ollie crosses the fine line [how does he cross the line - show it] between friendship and romance, Roxy
is faced with the breakdown of a relationship she was convinced was
solid.
life long friendship. And wWhen her sisters, Steffi and Izzie, land on her doorstep
with issues of their own, Roxy knows that her quiet little apartment
in the city will be anything but peaceful with the Rule sisters living
under the same roof again. After a startling truth comes to light,
Roxy is forced to question the decisions she's made in both her
personal and professional life. [This needs to be tightened]

BREAKING THE RULES is a fast-paced chick-lit that delves into what happens when you refine the rules of love, friendship and family in order to find yourself. My first novel is complete at 87,000 words. A synopsis and full manuscript are available upon request.

Thank you very much for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

***************************************************************************************[/quote]


Hi Catherine,
It sounds like a great story, just needs a little tightening. My suggestions are completely subjective, but I hope they help. Good luck!

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Re: Query - Breaking the Rules (Chick Lit)

Post by wilderness » November 7th, 2010, 4:23 pm

Catenabi wrote:
Dear Ms/Mr X:

BREAKING THE RULES is a fast-paced chick-lit novel that tells the story of what happens when you have to redefine the rules of love, friendship and family in order to find yourself. You don't need this paragraph -- just move the genre to where you have the word count below. The summary doesn't tell us anything we don't know from the pitch portion so leave it out. Formatting note: remove the line wrap.


When twenty-seven year old Roxy Rule throws a party for her best friend and roommate, Oliver Frost, she tries to put on a brave face so
no one knows that a feeling of dread iscomfortablynestled in the pit of her stomach. So what if he’s leaving New York City for Jolly Ole England to save the planet with his Green Architecture while she's stuck being the personal assistant to the World's Most Demanding Boss? This seems a little overloaded for one sentence. Also, not sure about capitalizing all three of Jolly Ole England, Green Architecture, and World's Most Demanding Boss. I understand it's a stylistic choice but all three phrases seems overuse of it. Consider: So what if he's leaving New York City for jolly ole England? So what if he's off saving the world, designing one green building at a time? So what if her job as a personal assistant to World's Most Demanding Boss makes the chilly waters off the Brooklyn Bridge look tempting?

Roxy and Ollie have been best friends since childhood and she knows that nothing will come between them. She tries to push her mild jealousy over Ollie’s thriving career aside (this is repetitive, we already know they're BFF's and she's jealous of his career from the first paragraph) and ignore the fact that, over the years, her passion for food has only resulted in extra pounds and her big-city dream of being a chef feels more unattainable with every passing day. I like the extra pounds detail; nice and specific. Still, Roxy is determined to give Ollie an unforgettable send-off despite being distracted by Ethan, her fiancé, who has decided to take the non-traditional route for their upcoming wedding—one that involves suntan lotion and hepatitis vaccines. This sentence is also overloaded. Break it up. Also, I think we need more build up about Roxy and Ethan's relationship. The suntan lotion and hepatitis shots are good specific details, but perhaps the wrong ones. Having a destination wedding doesn't really tell me anything about why their relationship isn't working -- unless Roxy hates traveling and her fiance doesn't care (in which case be explicit). As is, we're left wondering why she's obsessing about Ollie when she should be in engaged bliss.

When Ollie crosses the fine line between friendship and romance, Roxy is faced with the breakdown of a relationship she was convinced was
solid. This is vague. What happens to tip their friendship into romance? And how does it break her relationship? I'm not even sure if you're referring to her relationship with Ethan or Ollie here. And when her sisters, Steffi and Izzie, land on her doorstep with issues of their own, Roxy knows that her quiet little apartment in the city will be anything but peaceful with the Rule sisters living under the same roof again. Again, vague and overloaded clauses in this sentence. What issues do her sisters have? Be specific but concise. Or if you don't have space, just leave it out and focus on Ollie, Ethan, Roxy triangle. After a startling truth comes to light, Roxy is forced to question the decisions she's made in both her personal and professional life. Also vague. This doesn't tell us anything. What comes to light? What decision is Roxy forced to make? Intrigue us by giving us the dirt!

BREAKING THE RULES is my first novel and is complete at 87,000 words.
A synopsis and full manuscript are available upon request.

Thank you very much for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Nathan has an awesome post called "The secret of Killer Queries: Specificity" : http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/03 ... eries.html

I think this could be a fun story. But let's root out the repetitive information and vague sentences. Put more specific details, like the one about how she's packing on the pounds but getting no closer to being a chef. That was a good one. Good luck!

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Re: Query - Breaking the Rules (Chick Lit)

Post by Catenabi » November 7th, 2010, 7:18 pm

You guys rock!! Thank you SO MUCH for helping me out! :)

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Re: Query - Breaking the Rules (Chick Lit)

Post by Moni12 » November 7th, 2010, 9:17 pm

One thing you don't want to do is classify it as Chick Lit in the query (I see you did it in the subject section). I believe the term is now "Women's Fiction".

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Re: Query - Breaking the Rules (Chick Lit)

Post by D.Bond » November 7th, 2010, 10:02 pm

Dear Ms/Mr X:

BREAKING THE RULES is a fast-paced chick-lit novel that tells the story of what happens when you have to redefine the rules of love, friendship and family in order to find yourself. This should definitely be moved to the word count. It just delays the awesomeness of the actual story coming out.

When twenty-seven year old Roxy Rule throws a party for her best friend and roommate, Oliver Frost, she tries to put on a brave face so no one knows that a feeling of dread is comfortably nestled in the pit of her stomach. What is she dreading? This probably won't make it into the query, but a hint of it (if possible) might be nice. So what if he’s leaving New York City for Jolly Ole England to save the planet with his Green Architecture Does this need to be capitalized? while she's stuck being the personal assistant to the World's Most Demanding Boss? Roxy and Ollie They have been best friends since childhood and she knows that nothing will come between them. She tries to push her mild jealousy over Ollie’s thriving career aside We already know she's jealous over his career.and ignores the fact that, over the years, her passion for food has only resulted in extra pounds A+ and her big-city dream of being a chef feels more unattainable with every passing day. Still, Roxy is determined to give Ollie an unforgettable send-off despite being distractedHow? by Ethan, her fiancé, who has decided to take the non-traditional route for their upcoming wedding—one that involves suntan lotion and hepatitis vaccines. This sort of comes out of nowhere :( What does this have to do with the send off?

When Ollie crosses the fine line between friendship and romance Again, how?, Roxy is faced with the breakdown of a relationship she was convinced was solid. That line is a bit passive to me. :( And when her sisters, Steffi and Izzie, land on her doorstep with issues of their own, Roxy knows that her quiet little apartment in the city will be anything but peaceful with the Rule sisters living under the same roof again. Okay. Is this about the sisters or Ollie? Or is it about Ethan? I'm confused. After a startling truth comes to light Good. I'm curious., Roxy is forced to question the decisions she's made in both her personal and professional life. This gives a hint of the stakes, but doesn't actually give them. What are the stakes?

BREAKING THE RULES is my first novel and is complete at 87,000 words. A synopsis and full manuscript are available upon request.

This sounds really intriguing and I hope all goes well for you!

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Re: Query - Breaking the Rules (Chick Lit)

Post by cheekychook » November 8th, 2010, 10:49 am

Moni12 wrote:One thing you don't want to do is classify it as Chick Lit in the query (I see you did it in the subject section). I believe the term is now "Women's Fiction".
"Chick lit" is a sub-genre of "women's fiction". It's okay to query as chick lit to agents who still use the term chick lit and are actively seeking it, but for agents who are seeking women's fiction you should try to determine what they are interested in seeing, many will actually say "blah,blah and blah BUT NO CHICK LIT". In general most people are steering away from the term, but some still use it. Many agents discuss this topic either on their websites, blogs or in interviews.
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Re: Query - Breaking the Rules (Chick Lit)

Post by Moni12 » November 8th, 2010, 2:26 pm

Cheekychook,

Thanks for the correction. I've heard many cases where agents don't like it when people use the term "chick lit".

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Re: Query - Breaking the Rules (Chick Lit)

Post by JMB » November 11th, 2010, 1:09 pm

Hi,

You've only sent a handful of queries so don't get discouraged. I think this query includes too much yet doesn't tell us enough about what actually happens in the story. We get a synopsis style info dump of pretty stock characters and cliche events. (Sorry, I'm sure the book has neither.) Roxy hates her job, is jealous of her male friend whose career is on track and who may want to be more than friends, has a wacky fiancee, and even wackier sisters her move in uninvited. But what happens?

What's the time frame? Is it the build up in the weeks before the party and then a comic-tragic collision of all these people at the big bon voyage? Or does the story cover years of Roxy and Ollie's relationship, with the party being just one of many events?

What's the major obstacle Roxy has to overcome? Is it bailing on her fiancee and finally admitting to herself what everybody else already knows--that Roxy and Ollie were meant to be together. What are the consequences if she fails?

And don't make Roxy sound so passive--like things are always happening to her instead of her leading the action. Try to bring the personality of the book and the voice of the Main Character into the query. I suspect there is a good bit of humor in it. If so, bring it out.

Good luck!

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Re: Query - Breaking the Rules (Chick Lit)

Post by saraflower » November 13th, 2010, 11:20 am

I`m no expert on queries, but I think your query successfully brings the reader into the drama and excitement of the story. It captures that early adult, twenty-something voice of your main character very well. I`m thinking you should mention the fiance earlier on and simply tell what the startling truth is. It is always better to be specific when pitching to agents. :)

Overall, great job! I don`t normally read chick lit stuff, but this story has me hooked!! All the best with your agent search.

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Re: Query - Breaking the Rules (Chick Lit)

Post by Josin » November 13th, 2010, 7:44 pm

I'm breaking out my Red Pen of Doom (Doooooooooooooooooooooooom!) It's been called that for a reason, so if you want a nice or easy crit, then ignore mine. I'm not trying to be mean; the comments I make are blunt, but will hopefully help you strengthen your query.

Before you try and jump in to defend your word and sentence choices, think about this. You have less than a minute to catch an agent's attention. You don't get to make explanations if they don't get something the way you meant it to read, and if it requires an explanation, then you probably missed your mark.

The following is nothing by my personal opinion, of course. Take what you find useful, and torch the rest.
Catenabi wrote: Dear Ms/Mr X:

BREAKING THE RULES is a fast-paced chick-lit novel that tells the
story of what happens when you have to redefine the rules of love,
friendship and family in order to find yourself.
I'm going to go a step further than "move" and tell you to CUT this. You're TELLING the agent something you need to SHOW them. The voice in your query should demonstrate that it's a "fast paced" story, and the rest should also be clear in presentation. This is a waste of words if you've done your query right.

When twenty-seven year old Roxy Rule throws a party for her best
friend and roommate, Oliver Frost, she tries to put on a brave face so
no one knows that a feeling of dread is comfortably nestled in the pit
of her stomach. <-- WAY too much ramble, especially if you want an agent to believe this story is "fast paced". Streamline. A lot.So what if he’s leaving New York City for Jolly Ol'
England to save the planetwith his Green Architecture while she's
stuck being the personal assistant to the World's Most Demanding Boss?<--- another rambler. This isn't boding well. Also, "World's Most Demanding" isn't exactly a statement of evil. It's a great work ethic that makes it seem like your MC just doesn't like working hard. Change the moniker. (Devil in high Heels. Biggest Ego in Manhattan. Something with a bit of personality.
Roxy and Ollie have been best friends since childhood and she knows
that nothing will come between them.<--- this feels shoe-horned She tries to push her mild
jealousy over Ollie’s thriving career aside and ignore the fact that,
over the years, her passion for food has only resulted in extra pounds
and her big-city dream of being a chef feels more unattainable with
every passing day. And another rambler... By this point, I'm sure the person reading is thinking you've got SERIOUS pacing issues.Still, Roxy is determined to give Ollie an
unforgettable send-off despite being distracted by Ethan, her fiancé,
who has decided to take the non-traditional route for their upcoming
wedding—one that involves suntan lotion and hepatitis vaccines.One, you've taken all this space BEFORE you even get to the crux of the conflict (or sub-conflict). Two, what possible bearing does the location of their honeymoon have on the plot? It's an extraneous detail that takes up space you need for other things.

When Ollie crosses the fine line between friendship and romance<--- serious cliche alert, Roxy
is faced with the breakdown of a relationship she was convinced was
solid. And when her sisters, Steffi and Izzie, land on her doorstep
with issues of their own, Roxy knows that her quiet little apartment
in the city will be anything but peaceful with the Rule sisters living
under the same roof again.Subplot that doesn't require this much attention in the query. Cut it. After a startling truth comes to light,Vague is not your friend. Especially not this vague which does NOTHING to draw interest to your story.
Roxy is forced to question the decisions she's made in both her
personal and professional life.What I just said on the last line, X10. You're not helping yourself. You're throwing nebulous generalities and cliches into the query that don't do anything but make it seem like you don't know how to say what you're trying to say.

BREAKING THE RULESis my first novelNo one cares. It's also implied if you don't have a list of publishing credits, therefore, it's wasted space.and is complete at 87,000 words. Try something like" BREAKING THE RULES is an 87,000 women's fiction novel. <--- all the info you need, and much more succinct.
A synopsis and full manuscript are available upon request.

Thank you very much for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

***************************************************************************************
Basically, from what you have here, your query (and most likely your book, as it will be judged by the query) doesn't live up to your promises of "fast paced" or "redefining the rules of love". You have to find a way to show those things in the course of te query because a reader isn't going to take your word for them.

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Re: Query - Breaking the Rules (Chick Lit)

Post by karenbb » November 15th, 2010, 9:15 am

Josin wrote:
BREAKING THE RULESis my first novelNo one cares. It's also implied if you don't have a list of publishing credits, therefore, it's wasted space.and is complete at 87,000 words. Try something like" BREAKING THE RULES is an 87,000 women's fiction novel. <--- all the info you need, and much more succinct.
Don't say fiction novel--it will make you look like a total amateur.

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Re: Query - Breaking the Rules (Chick Lit)

Post by Down the well » November 15th, 2010, 9:37 am

karenbb wrote:
Josin wrote:
BREAKING THE RULESis my first novelNo one cares. It's also implied if you don't have a list of publishing credits, therefore, it's wasted space.and is complete at 87,000 words. Try something like" BREAKING THE RULES is an 87,000 women's fiction novel. <--- all the info you need, and much more succinct.
Don't say fiction novel--it will make you look like a total amateur.
Maybe in this case, with women's fiction being the genre, it might be less awkward to word it: BREAKING THE RULES is an 87,000 word work of women's fiction. ???

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