Query: Commercial Novel

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Plebeian
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Query: Commercial Novel

Post by Plebeian » April 3rd, 2012, 9:18 pm

Aayush has not turned eighteen and is considered a major failure. For not cracking the IIT-JEE, for his abominable scores in class 12th, for not living upto his family legacy.

He joins a twinning engineering course in Manipal, to transfer to a university in United States after two years. To obliterate the shame of failure, he vouches to break into one of the top five universities of US. Even at the cost of becoming a nerd who is condescending, selfish and sadistic. He relents in befriending Yash -- philanderer, academically disinterested, and Varun, brilliant in studies, but socially awkward with girls.

At Manipal, Aayush gradually reconciles personal relationships with professional goals, and along with Yash and Varun, makes it to US’s fourth best engineering college – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

But once at Urbana-Champaign, Yash struggles to meet University’s exacting academic standards, Varun is taken aback by America’s sexual effervescence, and US’s grave economic meltdown inches Aayush to his most pronounced fear – the fear of failure.

(Bio and other miscellaneous information)

P.S: FYI, just so you guys don't get thrown off: Manipal is a place in Southern India. IIT-JEE is one of the toughest engineering entrance exams in the world. Since I would be querying only Indian agents, so they would get the setting, but I wanted you guys to know.

Thanks in advance for reading this. Any advice, criticism will be highly appreciated.
"Finally I wrote the book not because I thought someone else would care. I wrote it because I cared." - Amitabha Bagchi.

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Falls Apart
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Re: Query: Commercial Novel

Post by Falls Apart » April 7th, 2012, 11:38 am

Sounds like a great book! It's a bit hard to follow, though. Some suggestions:
Before his eighteenth birthday, Aayush's family already considers him an academic failure. In hopes of transferring to a top U.S. school, he joins a twinning* engineering course in Manipal. Wrapped up in his own shame, he becomes a condescending, selfish, and sadistic** nerd, reluctantly befriending the disinterested, philandering Yash, and the brilliant but socially awkward Varun.

When he and his friends transfer to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the fourth best engineering college in the U.S., Yash struggles to meet University’s exacting academic standards and Varun is taken aback by America’s sexual effervescence***. Aayush thinks he has a chance to redeem himself in his family's eyes, but the grave economic meltdown forces Aayush to confront his most pronounced fear – the fear of failure.

*what does twinning mean?
**is he really sadistic? As in, he gets distinct pleasure from the pain of others? I mean, he might be--I haven't read your story--but that's a very strong term.
***I'm not familiar with the phrase "sexual effervescence." I'd suggest "lax sexual standards", or "acceptance of promiscuity", but it could be that I've just never heard the phrase before.
On the whole, sounds like a cool book, and good luck!

Plebeian
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Re: Query: Commercial Novel

Post by Plebeian » April 7th, 2012, 12:19 pm

Thanks for the kind words, Falls Apart.

* By twinning engineering, I meant an engineering program where one studies for two years at a particular place (in this case Manipal, India), and then transfers to a different university (here, UIUC, USA). I can't explain this in a query, it would be wordy and slow it down. Any suggestions, what else I can use?

** Yes, in hindsight, sadistic happens to be too strong a word. Bitter would suit the character better.

*** I wanted to use an antonym for "sexually conservative". Don't know if my word gets the point across.
"Finally I wrote the book not because I thought someone else would care. I wrote it because I cared." - Amitabha Bagchi.

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Falls Apart
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Re: Query: Commercial Novel

Post by Falls Apart » April 7th, 2012, 6:21 pm

*Oh, definitely don't explain it in the query. I just wasn't familiar with the term myself.
**Yeah, I think bitter works better... I was picturing this guy with, like, a torture kit in his dorm room and was like O.o
***I knew what you were trying to say, it's just that "effervescence" means "fizz", "froth", or "sparkles". This may just be an idiom I'm not aware of, but, if not, I might go with "widespread promiscuity", "sexual openness", or "lax sexual standards". But, as with point one, it may just be my own ignorance.

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theWallflower
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Re: Query: Commercial Novel

Post by theWallflower » May 4th, 2012, 5:29 pm

Aayush has not turned eighteen and is considered a major failure. For not cracking the IIT-JEE, for his abominable scores in class 12th, for not living upto his family legacy.
-I'm not familiar with the term "cracking" -- are you trying to say he failed the IIT-JEE? "Cracking" implies he hacked into it, or deciphered a code.
-upto is two words
-Who considers him a major failure -- passive voice.
He joins a twinning engineering course in Manipal, to transfer to a university in United States after two years. To obliterate the shame of failure, he vouches to break into one of the top five universities of US. Even at the cost of becoming a nerd who is condescending, selfish and sadistic. He relents in befriending Yash -- philanderer, academically disinterested, and Varun, brilliant in studies, but socially awkward with girls.
-I would leave out "twinning" -- I can easily tell what he's trying to do without that word.
-I think you mean "vow" not "vouch".
-university is overused as a word here
-I am not sure what the plot of this story is -- he's a nerd and he goes to a university? What is the problem? What is the obstacle? What is stopping him from getting what he wants?
-"He relents in befriending" sounds like he doesn't want to befriend them
-why would he become condescending or selfish or sadistic?
-what do the other characters matter in the plot?
At Manipal, Aayush gradually reconciles personal relationships with professional goals, and along with Yash and Varun, makes it to US’s fourth best engineering college – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
-I still don't know why I care about Aayush graduating, as it sounds like he becomes a worse person for it.
-I don't really care what university he goes to.
But once at Urbana-Champaign, Yash struggles to meet University’s exacting academic standards, Varun is taken aback by America’s sexual effervescence, and US’s grave economic meltdown inches Aayush to his most pronounced fear – the fear of failure.
-What does America's poor economy have to do with Aayush in college? They are unrelated.
-Why should I care if Varun is taken aback by America's more prominent sexualism. And by that I mean, what happens to Varun?
-There's too much focus in this query about the supporting characters.
-You need to start this over. I don't know what the literary market is in India -- could be totally different. But this query is going to fail in an American audience. For one, I don't know who the main character is. He seems to have a fear of failure but why? What are the stakes for failing? What happens if he fails? He feels bad about himself? Not good enough. What is stopping him from getting what he wants? He seems to get into the university with no problem -- he gets what he wants. He just needs to pass his damn classes. What obstacles are in his way? What are the stakes for failure? I don't see a plot here.

-I'm curious -- you say you're querying Indian agents, yet you're writing this in English. There's going to be a lot of untranslatable words and concepts that Americans won't get, and if you change them in English, they won't fly with Indians, so I'm curious what you hope to accomplish?
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fernansch
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Re: Query: Commercial Novel

Post by fernansch » September 7th, 2012, 5:02 pm

What does America's poor economy have to do with Aayush in college? They are unrelated.
I wish I could answer that question plainly but there would be no such. I guess everything is tied up to each other. Everyone trades using US dollars so that would be my first bet.

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kelseyebeach
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Re: Query: Commercial Novel

Post by kelseyebeach » September 7th, 2012, 5:48 pm

Good concept, Plebeian. Falls Apart has already done a nice rewrite, so I'll start there.

Before his eighteenth birthday, Aayush's family already considers him an academic failure. In hopes of transferring to a top U.S. school, he joins a twinning engineering course [program?] in Manipal. [You could strengthen this sentence by showing Aayush's emotion. "Desperate", "Determined", or "Hoping" to transfer to a top school would all convey something of Aayush.] Wrapped up in his own shame, Sacrificing everything to succeed, he becomes a condescending, selfish, and sadistic nerd, reluctantly befriending Only reluctantly does he befriend the disinterested carefree, philandering Yash, and the brilliant but socially awkward Varun.

When he and his friends transfer to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the fourth best engineering college in the U.S. [This can be shorter and cleaner; every word counts in a query.], Yash struggles to meet University’s exacting academic standards and Varun is taken aback by America’s sexual effervescence. Aayush thinks he has a chance to redeem himself in his family's eyes, but the grave economic meltdown forces Aayush to confront his most pronounced fear – the fear of failure. [I think you can better explain the economic meltdown too. See rewrite below.]

When Auyush and his friends transfer to the fourth best engineering college in the U.S., they all confront their deepest fears. Yash struggles to meet the university’s exacting academic standards, and Varun is taken aback by America’s sexual looseness. And as Auyush's studies finish and not a single job appears on the horizon, he fears he will return to his family with the greatest failure yet.

Make sure you include the page count, type of novel (commercial), and title in your miscellaneous info. If you attended Manipal and U of I, I would mention that too.

I think The Wallflower is a little harsh, but I do agree that the English is not perfect. The word choice and small mistakes in your query suggest that the novel will be similar. Is the target market India or the USA? It would be hard to succeed in the US without a heavily involved editor or translator. Also, the concept is not entirely unique, basically a man trying to succeed with his two side kicks in tow, but if you tell the story in a fresh way, I can see this novel making it.

Good luck!

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