Query for 'Hard Rock'- Commercial Fiction

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austincambridge
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Query for 'Hard Rock'- Commercial Fiction

Post by austincambridge » February 11th, 2010, 12:29 am

Thanks for the comments sofar!

Version 2 of this query is 5 posts down.

Dear Ms. Agent:

Smart-mouthed P.I. Guy Morgan doesn't work much; but he does drink half his weight in whisky each day, while exposing the occasional insurance fraud or matrimonial infidelity.

When Guy’s old high school nemesis, rock star, Marc Sloane, reveals he is receiving death threats, Guy, needing some quick cash to repay a poker debt, accepts the job of Sloane's bodyguard. He knows it's going to be a headache because Sloane’s rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle is not one which thrives under close scrutiny. While rifling through Sloane’s private correspondence, Guy discovers clues that lead him to suspect Sloane himself is behind the threats, as some kind of a publicity-grabbing hoax, and begins to believe that Sloane has only hired him as a pretext to settle an old playground score. No sooner is Guy caught up in Sloane’s deception when a real stalker appears and kidnaps the singer.

Balking at paying the million-dollar ransom demand, Sloane’s management insists that Guy fulfill his employment obligation and rescue their missing investment. If he doesn’t he can say goodbye to his promised fee. By his own admission, Guy is singularly ill-equipped to solve the case. Relying on his persuasive skills that lack for nothing except eloquence, Guy is in a race to find Sloane before his kidnapper decides that dead men tell no tales.

HARD ROCK is commercial fiction, complete at 80,000 words. I’d love to send you the full manuscript. Thanks for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
Last edited by austincambridge on April 28th, 2013, 2:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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aspiring_x
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Re: Query for 'Hard Rock'- Commercial Fiction

Post by aspiring_x » February 11th, 2010, 1:05 am

[quote="austincambridge"]Dear Ms. Agent: I LOVE that your default agent is a woman!

Smart-mouthed gumshoe, Guy Morgan doesn't work much; but he does drink half his weight in whisky each day,do you need the comma? It distrupted the flow of the sentence for me, but grammar is grammar. while exposing the occasional insurance fraud or matrimonial infidelity.hee. hee.

When Guy’s old high school nemesis, rock star, cut the commaMarc Sloane, reveals he is receiving death threats, Guy, needing some quick cash to repay a poker debt, I spy someone else with a comma fetish. Maybe we could just move that....accepts the job of Sloane's bodyguard. ... here. Something like, "Afterall, he does need some quick cash to pay off his poker debt.He knows it's going to be a headache because Sloane’s rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle is not one which thrives under close scrutiny.the voice coming across here is pretty funny, can you change the red statement to something that would build on the humor? Otherwise, I would cut the sentence. While rifling through Sloane’s private correspondence, Guy discovers clues that lead him to suspect Sloane himself is behind the threats,. as some kind of a publicity-grabbing hoax, and begins to believe that Sloane has only hired him as a pretext to settle an old playground score.This is good fodder for the story, but I don't think it needs to be included in the query. Guy is no sooner ensnared in Sloane’s web of deceit than a real stalker appears on the scene and kidnaps the singer.

Balking at paying the million-dollar ransom demand, Sloane’s management insists that Guy fulfill his employment obligation and rescue their missing investment. If he doesn’t he can say goodbye to his promised fee. By his own admission, Guy is singularly ill-equipped to solve the case. Relying on his persuasive skills that lack for nothing except eloquence, Guy is in a race to find Sloane before his kidnapper decides that dead men tell no tales.

HARD ROCK is commercial fiction, complete at 80,000 words. I’d love to send you the full manuscript. Thanks for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.[/
quote]
I didn't get a chance to go over the purple part. My hubby is hollering at me for being up too late. I'll go over the last bit in the morning... but I'll probably be a crabpot.

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aspiring_x
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Re: Query for 'Hard Rock'- Commercial Fiction

Post by aspiring_x » February 11th, 2010, 9:30 am

Hmmm, let's see... Where was I? Oh yeah...
austincambridge wrote: Guy is no sooner ensnared in Sloane’s web of deceit I get what you're saying here, but the wording is confusing. Maybe something like, "just when Guy is about to give up on Sloan'es case completely a real stalker appears on the scene and cut kidnaps the singer.

Balking at paying the million-dollar ransom demand, Sloane’s management insists that Guy fulfill his employment obligation and rescue their missing investment. If he doesn’t he can say goodbye to his promised fee.Implied clearly in the prior sentence By his own admission, Guy is singularly ill-equipped to solve the case. I'm not sure if this reads how you want it too. Is Guy a completely incompitent? That's the impression I got.Relying on his persuasive skills that lack for nothing except eloquence,Same impression as the last statement Guy is in a race to find Sloane before his kidnapper decides that dead men tell no tales. Just a personal preference, but whenever I hear this phrase, I imagine a pirate's parrot squaking it.

HARD ROCK is commercial fiction, complete at 80,000 words. I’d love to send you the full manuscript. Thanks for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
You have a really fun idea here!

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Re: Query for 'Hard Rock'- Commercial Fiction

Post by Nicole Zoltack » February 11th, 2010, 7:28 pm

Dear Ms. Agent:

Smart-mouthed gumshoe, Delete comma Guy Morgan doesn't work much; comma not semicolon but he does drink half his weight in whisky whiskey each day, while exposing the occasional insurance fraud or matrimonial infidelity.

When Guy’s old high school nemesis, rock star, Marc Sloane, delete comma reveals he is receiving death threats, Guy, needing some quick cash to repay a poker debt, accepts the job of Sloane's bodyguard. Possible rewrite to condense and tighten: Rock star Marc Sloane, Guy's old high school nemesis, is receiving death threats. Guy, needing some quick cash to repay a poker debt, accepts the job of bodyguard. He knows it's going to be a headache because Sloane’s rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle is not one which thrives under close scrutiny. While rifling through Sloane’s private correspondence, Guy discovers clues that lead him to suspect Sloane himself is behind the threats, as some kind of a publicity-grabbing hoax, and begins to believe that Sloane has only hired him as a pretext to settle an old playground score. Guy is no sooner ensnared in Sloane’s web of deceit than a real stalker appears on the scene and kidnaps the singer.

Balking at paying the million-dollar ransom demand, Sloane’s management insists that Guy fulfill his employment obligation and rescue their missing investment. If he doesn’t insert comma he can say goodbye to his promised fee. By his own admission, Guy is singularly ill-equipped to solve the case. Relying on his persuasive skills that lack for nothing except eloquence, Guy is in a race to find Sloane before his kidnapper decides that dead men tell no tales.

HARD ROCK is commercial fiction, complete at 80,000 words. I’d love to send you the full manuscript. Thanks for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

NicoleLee
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Re: Query for 'Hard Rock'- Commercial Fiction

Post by NicoleLee » February 11th, 2010, 7:46 pm

Dear Ms. Agent:

Smart-mouthed gumshoe, Guy Morgan doesn't work much; (Comma) but he does drink half his weight in whisky each day,(no comma) while exposing the occasional insurance fraud or matrimonial infidelity. (Too many comma's breaks the flow of the sentence)

When Guy’s old (Delete the word "old" we get he's not in high school anymore from the previous description) high school nemesis, rock star, Marc Sloane, reveals he is receiving death threats, (Replace comma with period) Guy, needing some quick cash to repay a poker debt, (delete comma) accepts the job of Sloane's bodyguard. He knows it's going to be a headache because Sloane’s rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle is not one which thrives under close scrutiny. While rifling through Sloane’s private correspondence, Guy discovers clues that lead him to suspect Sloane himself is behind the threats, as some kind of a publicity-grabbing hoax, and begins to believe that Sloane has only hired him as a pretext to settle an old playground score. (Sentence is too long, try and break into two sentences) Guy is no sooner ensnared (No sooner is Guy ensnared) in Sloane’s web of deceit than a real stalker appears on the scene and kidnaps the singer.

Balking at paying the million-dollar ransom demand, Sloane’s management insists that Guy fulfill his employment obligation and rescue their missing investment. If he doesn’t he can say goodbye to his promised fee. By his own admission, Guy is singularly ill-equipped to solve the case. Relying on his persuasive skills that lack for nothing except eloquence (Re-word), Guy is in a race to find Sloane before his kidnapper decides that dead men tell no tales.

HARD ROCK is commercial fiction, complete at 80,000 words. I’d love to send you the full manuscript. Thanks for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you. (Why did you write it? Why are you querying this agent? Delete: I'd love to send you the full manuscript, that's the whole reason for querying)

I hope my comments were helpful :) Overall I personally think the summary part of the letter is too long, try and narrow it down to one strong paragraph with an opening hook. Describe more of who you are and why you chose to query the agent you chose to query. If you have credentials list them.

austincambridge
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Re: Query for 'Hard Rock'- Commercial Fiction

Post by austincambridge » February 11th, 2010, 10:18 pm

Here's version 2.

Dear Ms. Agent:

Guy Morgan, private investigator, receives a surprise visit from his high school nemesis, rock star, Marc Sloane, on the eve of a comeback tour. Sloane reveals he is receiving death threats and hires Guy as his bodyguard. Guy needs quick cash to repay a poker debt from a rigged game, and accepts the job even though he knows it's going to be a headache.

The singer seems untroubled by the threats, perhaps with reason. While rifling through Sloane’s private correspondence, Guy discovers clues that lead him to suspect that Sloane himself is behind the threats, as some kind of a publicity-grabbing scheme, and begins to believe that Sloane has only hired him precisely because he didn’t think him up to the job of uncovering the hoax. No sooner is Guy caught in Sloane’s deception when a real stalker appears and kidnaps the singer.

Balking at paying the million-dollar demand, Sloane’s management insists that Guy rescue their missing investment. If he doesn’t, he can say goodbye to his promised fee. Relying on his persuasive skills that lack for nothing except eloquence, Guy races to find Sloane before his kidnapper concludes that dead men tell no tales.

Hard Rock is commercial fiction, complete at 80,000 words. The first five pages are included below. I’d love to send you the full manuscript. Thanks for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
Last edited by austincambridge on April 28th, 2013, 2:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Elizabeth Poole
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Re: Query for 'Hard Rock'- Commercial Fiction

Post by Elizabeth Poole » February 12th, 2010, 12:21 am

And here we go!

It’s late and I am tired, so the gloves are off. Just saying. I want to help you hook an agent, so better us tell you than the agent reject you because we went easy on you, right? Right.

So, your newer version looks a 100 times better than the first one. Like plastic surgery for your query. The other kind posters picked up the really glaring issues, so it’s my job to get to the nitty gritty.

Remember though, with the nitty gritty, this is highly subjective, and a healthy dose of opinion so feel free to disregard my comments.

Dear Ms. Agent:

I am assuming you are going to include a personalize bit for each agent here, right? Good man.

Smart-mouthed gumshoe Guy Morgan doesn't work much, but he does drink half his weight in whiskey each day while exposing the occasional insurance fraud or matrimonial infidelity. LOVE, love this sentance.

When Guy’s high school nemesis, rock star Marc Sloane, reveals Reveals? Really? Marc Sloane "unveils" that he's receiving death threats? *when uncertain about a word, sometimes you can use a synonym for it to see if that's the word you really want. What about "admits"? Or "discloses"? Also, I would include something about Sloane seeking him out, but that is just my opinion. I am having a hard time picturing someone walking up to a guy and "revealing" a secret. he is receiving death threats, Guy, needing some quick cash to repay a poker debt, accepts the job of Sloane's bodyguard. Okay, I understand that Guy is going to be Sloane bodyguard, but you didn't mention the P.I. work. I know you mention that Guy IS a P.I., but when you stated Guy scrutinizing Sloane's life, I wondered why. Again, this is a nit picky thing, but maybe mention that Guy is ALSO hired to figure out who is stalking him. He knows it's going to be a headache because Sloane’s rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle is not one which thrives under close scrutiny. While rifling I love this word, bonus points for you. through Sloane’s private correspondence, Guy discovers clues that lead him to suspect Sloane himself is behind the threats, as some kind of a publicity-grabbing hoax. He begins to believe that Sloane has only hired him as a pretext to settle an old playground score. No sooner is Guy caught in Sloane’s web of deceit than a real stalker appears on the scene and kidnaps the singer.

Balking at paying the million-dollar ransom demand, Sloane’s management insists that Guy fulfill his employment obligation and rescue their missing investment. If he doesn’t, he can say goodbye to his promised fee. I agree with another poster, this sentance is redundant. By his own admission, Guy is ill-equipped to solve the case. Relying on his persuasive skills that lack for nothing except eloquence, Guy is in a race to find Sloane before his kidnapper decides that dead men tell no tales.

Hard Rock is commercial fiction, complete at 80,000 words. I’d love to send you the full manuscript. Thanks for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

The last nitpicky item I have is this: why do I care about Guy?

Please don't take that the wrong way. And it's not that I don't LOVE a good anti-hero, so please don't chalk my comment up to someone who just prefers happy heros. But while you have done a beautiful job succintely stating the conflict, and setting up the plot, I still walk away from it feel *meh*. I don't feel like I HAVE to know about what happens to Guy. It took me a few read-throughs to pin point the problem, because your query is so well written, but I still would like to see if you could put a tidbit of something about Guy into this query.

Your voice is excellent through the query, and you do characterize Guy in the begining, what with all those whiskey bottles he drinks, but maybe put something else in that paragraph, something that will force the reader to emotionally bond with the detective. He can be as gritty and hard core as they come, but the reader still needs to emotionally bond with the character.

Maybe you could write back with a little more info on Guy, and we can figure out what, if anything, to add.

This is just my opinion though. I hope this helped!
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http://writerelizabethpoole.blogspot.com/

austincambridge
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Re: Query for 'Hard Rock'- Commercial Fiction

Post by austincambridge » February 20th, 2010, 3:37 pm

Thanks to those that read and to those that replied. Elizabeth,I will work on adding something to help the reader connect with Guy.

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Re: Query for 'Hard Rock'- Commercial Fiction

Post by jordynface » February 20th, 2010, 6:55 pm

Not a line-by-line, simply some thoughts & suggestions for you to take (or not):

1. "he does drink half his weight in whiskey each day" OBVIOUSLY this is hyperbole, but for some reason it strikes me as a bit over-the-top, almost like you want it to be taken literally since you say "each day." Though I might be the only one who had issue with that.
2. What do you mean about Sloane's lifestyle not thriving under close scrutiny? Why would a bodyguard need to scrutinize his lifestyle? Might want to add something about the P.I. work in here.
3. My main issue with this is the stakes --- Guy is willing to essentially risk his life for the money he's been promised (right?) because he's just THAT HARD UP FOR MONEY, but I feel like we need to have more of an insight into Guy's character to really understand and sympathize with this. Because otherwise it's kind of like, "well, if you hadn't gambled all your money away you wouldn't be in this position..." You really want the reader/agent on board with what Guy has to do.

Hope I've helped.

Limari
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Re: Query for 'Hard Rock'- Commercial Fiction

Post by Limari » February 21st, 2010, 11:38 am

Woohoo! I'm on fire posting in this forum. My only addition to this already awesome critique group is to emphasize on personalizing queries. Agents are people too. They want to feel you are the right match for them, as much as you want them to be a right match for you. Why do you want that agent in particular? Is it because you read a fantastic book he/she represented? Or is it because you like his/her blog? Remember, you ARE selling your novel ;)

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Re: Query for 'Hard Rock'- Commercial Fiction

Post by KaylingR » February 21st, 2010, 12:50 pm

Austin- sounds like a good book. Honest comentary and nitpicks below in the hopes of making your query as strong as possible. Take what's useful, and ignore the rest as the idiosyncratic ticks of a neophyte who obviously doesn't know what she's talking about. ;)
Smart-mouthed P.I. Guy Morgan doesn't work much, but he does drink half his weight in whiskey each day while exposing the occasional insurance fraud or matrimonial infidelity.
I like this hook, but brevity is the stuff of wit, and the 'while clause' is dragging you down. Prune down to what you can't do without. "P.I. Guy Morgan doesn't work much, but he does drink half his weight in whiskey each day and expose the occaisionl insurance fraud or matrimonial infidelity." (Not even sure you even need the 'expose' bit since that's what I assume a P.I. does.)
Sloane’s rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle is not one which thrives under close scrutiny
Not sure any lifestyle thrives under close scrutiny. Maybe you mean 'survives close scrutiny'? Why is his bodyguard scrutinizing his life anyway?
Guy discovers clues that lead him to suspect Sloane himself is behind the threats, as some kind of a publicity-grabbing hoax. He begins to believe that Sloane has only hired him as a pretext to settle an old playground score.
Overwritten and passive. Don't 'discover clues that lead him to suspect' (suspect)or 'begin to believe' (believe, or just more suspecting) "Guy suspects Sloane is writing the threats himself as a publicity stunt and only hired him to settle an old playground score."
No sooner is Guy caught in Sloane’s web of deceit than a real stalker appears on the scene and kidnaps the singer.
'web of deceit' and 'appears on the scene' are a bit cliche. Is the real stalker the antagonist? Marc doesn't sound like such a bad guy...
Balking at paying the million-dollar ransom demand, Sloane’s management insists that Guy fulfill his employment obligation and rescue their missing investment. If he doesn’t, he can say goodbye to his promised fee.
Not sure you need to involve management in your query. "If Guy doesn't rescue the missing rockstar, he can say goodbye to his promised fee."
By his own admission, Guy is ill-equipped to solve the case.
cut 'by his own admission'
Relying on his persuasive skills that lack for nothing except eloquence
This is a cute idea, but it needs to be tightened up.
Guy is in a race
Guy races

Overall, I think this just needs to be pruned. I know its hard when you've already condensed 80K words to 250, but I think you could cut out another hundred of verbage. You've got great voice and an interesting story.

Hope some of this helps!
-K

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Re: Query for 'Hard Rock'- Commercial Fiction

Post by jessicatudor » February 21st, 2010, 2:51 pm

Pretty much what's been said - we need something more about Guy to root for him. Also, and this is me - I'm curious why Sloane wants to settle some playground debt. That seems kind of petty - but I like that it brings in their history and adds another layer to the plot, I'm just not sure it's explained as best it could be, but again, this might just be me. The story sounds solid otherwise.
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