Looking for Honest Feedback

Share your blood sweat tears query for feedback and lend your hard-won expertise to others
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Kristina
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Looking for Honest Feedback

Post by Kristina » March 21st, 2013, 8:26 pm

I have worked very hard on my book. I have polished and re-polished. I am finally ready to start sending out my query letters. However, I want that to be as well written as possible. I am struggling with the debate as to how much information about my life I should include. I want to express just how vast the experiences I have had are; but I don't want to overwhelm the reader. Please give me honest feedback. I take criticism well and I attempt to use it as a means to progress my work.


Dear Mr. Ginsberg,

I am excited to be submitting my novel to you because it is similar to
Po Bronson’s WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY LIFE? Since you represented this
brilliant book,I am hoping you will love my book, entitled MY STORY WITH
COMPLETE HONESTY.

Just as the title suggests; this book is a completely honest and uncensored
account of my life. These 80,000 words tell the compelling, slightly humorous and
emotional journey that I have personally gone through in order to better understand
who I am and ultimate find peace. My life has proven to be “stranger than fiction”
and no part of my story has been embellished or diminished. There was no need to
do more than tell the truth.

I was born into poverty. My mother was from a family of religious extremists and she married
an abusive, alcoholic man. She eventually left my father and married a wealthy man. We ascended
from extreme poverty to wealth. My new father was a workaholic and moved our family all across
the USA. I observed many contrasting worlds and found inconsistency in each society. At one of the
Catholic schools we attended, my older brother was molested by the priest.

I managed to become close with a girl (in one of my passing schools) named Sara. She confided in
me that her older brother had molested her. I was a child, but I helped her as best I could. I found
myself in Europe. When I returned to Ohio, I fell in love. Meanwhile, my older brother got addicted to
drugs. Before I got married, Sara confessed to me that she was gay and in love with me. I got married
anyways. My husband and I had a son. I started college and became bulimic. My husband and I had another
son, and I came to grips with my bulimia. My parents got divorced and my father remarried an extremely
young girl. My mother married a transgender man. We had a third son and he was diagnosed with
Leukemia. While our whole world was falling apart, my older brother came to us because he was running
from the cops. I made the very emotional choice to turn my brother over to the police. (And inhale)

Most people’s lives slowly evolve and transcend into different shades. Mine is blocked
into contrasting colors; like a Piet Mondrian painting. I feel as though I have lived many
different lives inside my own. Each wedge contributes to different parts of my personality.
I have worked hard to accomplish the dexterity to be honest with myself and about my life. The ability to
look at my world and improve upon my own flaws has helped me to find inner peace even though there is
obviously much that I cannot control outside of myself. I have included a small excerpt from my novel and
I hope to have the ability to share the full journey with you.

Thank You,
Kristina

( I plan on providing the first five pages of my book along with this query)

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Shipple
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Re: Looking for Honest Feedback

Post by Shipple » March 28th, 2013, 1:07 pm

It does sound like you've had a very interesting life, Kristina. I think you could quite a few stories. However, I did have a few problems with your query letter.

I think the first paragraph is good. You show you know who the agent is and explain why you're querying him.

But the second paragraph is not compelling enough. You say
These 80,000 words tell the compelling, slightly humorous and
emotional journey that I have personally gone through in order to better understand
who I am and ultimate find peace. My life has proven to be “stranger than fiction”
and no part of my story has been embellished or diminished. There was no need to
do more than tell the truth.
This is very generic and could apply to any one of a million stories. You need to lead right off the bat with what is unique about YOU and YOUR story. That is, after all, what you're pitching.

Then you start getting into the specifics. I think a lot of these things sound very interesting and book worthy, however you just list facts. You don't convey your voice or your sense of humor. The crappy thing about a query letter is that you need to convey the plot and your voice in one small letter. You need to show that you are interesting to listen to and that you will do a great job of conveying your story with humor and emotion.

I would maybe pick out a few of the most interesting parts of the story and tell about them in greater depth to convey the emotions you felt when you went through these times. The one that stands out to me is the fact you had to turn your brother over to the police. That sounds horrible and like it'd be a truly traumatic event for you. Something else that stood out to me is that you mention your brother was molested. That makes it sound more like your brother has a story to tell than you (in that particular example). I'm sure it affected you, but were you his confident? Did you play an active role? It doesn't sound like you're just chronicling his story b/c this book is about you, not him, so you need to make it about you.

Like I said, it sounds like you've led a really interesting life. I think this could be a fascinating story, but you need to show that you can tell your story in a heartwrenching way. There's certainly enough that's heartwrenching about it.
"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." - J.K. Rowling (an awesome opening line)
Me: http://sarahhipple.blogspot.com/ and http://shipple.tumblr.com/

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Kristina
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Re: Looking for Honest Feedback

Post by Kristina » March 28th, 2013, 3:39 pm

Thank you so much for your feedback! I really appreciate you taking the time to give me your opinion. I knew that the querie didn't flow as well as I would like. Sometimes it really helps to have different perspective to point out the things that should have been obvious. I think you made a lot of good points and they will definitely help me to represent my book better.

COFFEE@3AM
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Re: Looking for Honest Feedback

Post by COFFEE@3AM » March 29th, 2013, 12:18 am

I don't have any feedback besides what was already said but I would totally read your book!!

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Kristina
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Re: Looking for Honest Feedback

Post by Kristina » March 29th, 2013, 7:49 am

Thank You! I truly hope that some day you will be able to.

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Shipple
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Re: Looking for Honest Feedback

Post by Shipple » March 30th, 2013, 11:47 am

Thanks for the nice message on my query. Good luck revising yours. I'm glad you found my suggestions to be helpful. I know that I had sooooo many different versions of my query that just did not convey the tone of the book and were, therefore, quite boring (or at least not interesting enough). I know exactly how difficult it can be to pull together a query that does everything you need it to do. It's so hard with such a limited space.

Good luck!
"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." - J.K. Rowling (an awesome opening line)
Me: http://sarahhipple.blogspot.com/ and http://shipple.tumblr.com/

priya g.
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Re: Looking for Honest Feedback

Post by priya g. » August 9th, 2013, 11:57 am

Kristina wrote: Dear Mr. Ginsberg,

I am excited to be submitting my novel to you because it is similar to
Po Bronson’s WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY LIFE? Since you represented this
brilliant book,I am hoping you will love my book, entitled MY STORY WITH
COMPLETE HONESTY.
Just as the title suggests; this book is a completely honest and uncensored
account of my life. These 80,000 words tell the compelling, slightly humorous and
emotional journey that I have personally gone through in order to better understand
who I am and ultimate find peace. My life has proven to be “stranger than fiction”
and no part of my story has been embellished or diminished. There was no need to
do more than tell the truth.

Show- do not tell
I was born into poverty. My mother was from a family of religious extremists and she married
an abusive, alcoholic man. She eventually left my father and married a wealthy man. We ascended
from extreme poverty to wealth. My new father was a workaholic and moved our family all across
the USA. I observed many contrasting worlds and found inconsistency in each society. At one of the
Catholic schools we attended, my older brother was molested by the priest.

I managed to become close with a girl (in one of my passing schools) named Sara. She confided in
me that her older brother had molested her. I was a child, but I helped her as best I could.Sudden jump from the story of Sara left me a little disoriented. It would be a good idea to either tell how you helped her so that it seems complete or leave it out altogether. I understand that you are trying to give an example of what you went through but it is too short to spark intrigue. I found
myself in Europe. When I returned to Ohio, I fell in love. Meanwhile, my older brother got addicted to
drugs. Before I got married, Sara confessed to me that she was gay and in love with me. I got married
anyways. My husband and I had a son. I started college and became bulimic. My husband and I had another
son, and I came to grips with my bulimia. My parents got divorced and my father remarried an extremely
young girl. My mother married a transgender man. We had a third son and he was diagnosed with
Leukemia. While our whole world was falling apart, my older brother came to us because he was running
from the cops. I made the very emotional choice to turn my brother over to the police. (And inhale)
There is waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much in one paragraph, please break it up.
Most people’s lives slowly evolve and transcend into different shades. Mine is blocked
into contrasting colors; like a Piet Mondrian painting. I feel as though I have lived many
different lives inside my own. Each wedge contributes to different parts of my personality.
I have worked hard to accomplish the dexterity to be honest with myself and about my life. The ability to
look at my world and improve upon my own flaws has helped me to find inner peace even though there is
obviously much that I cannot control outside of myself. I have included a small excerpt from my novel and
I hope to have the ability to share the full journey with you.

Thank You,
Kristina

( I plan on providing the first five pages of my book along with this query)
Hi! I get the gist of your book- which is an amazing account of your life. However, the query letter seems to be jumping around too much. My advice would be to stick to narrating one side of your story through the query- e.g. focusing on how you moved around so much and could not make permanent friends (or that is what I read between the lines anyways) and continue on to Sara and your future decisions.

Hope I helped and all the best!

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