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Major Query help needed
AmberABardan
Posted: Friday, August 24, 2012 10:03 AM
Joined: 8/20/2012
Posts: 10


I need big help! A friend put me onto an acquisitions editor who had a look at my Query - Only for feedback. Her comments were brutal!!! Basically, her words were that no Agent or Publisher would consider my Query because it was soooo bad. She pointed me to a few websites that gave me a little more info on Query writing. I can see a few areas where I went wrong. So I have now completely re-written my Query but I am so PETRIFIED that it is terrible I am too scared to even think about sending it out to agents! Can anyone give me some pointers or let me know if I am at least on the right track now? I have enjoyed every minute of writing but the whole Query, Synopsis scenario makes me want to vomit...   
After learning more, I have now included my personal reasons for being the right person to write an abduction story (not something I would prefer to do) But I think it may be necassary. Now I think it's TMI??

Dear

When you have spent most of your life as twin to a terminally ill sibling, it is easy to go unnoticed. Not so easy is making the painfully transition to only child, and all why trying to process your own desperate grief. When you are also a little too round and a little too short, self confidence becomes virtually nonexistent. So when a gorgeous older man suddenly sets his magnetic gaze on you, do you jump head long into his arms? Or, do you race for the hills as fast as your little legs can carry you? Well Angelina ran. Problem is he found her. 

Now abducted, Angelina finds herself in real danger, and the only one who can save her? The very same man who is holding her captive. What is she to do, love or hate him? Can you learn to love someone who hurts everyone you care for? How can you trust someone who makes you question everything you believe to be right and wrong?

when I was 13, during my parents bitter divorce, my mother absconded with my sister and I to a friend's remote bush property in Kinglake. For a month we were kept with no contact with the outside world, no telephone, no computers not even live TV.  All the while we were constantly led to believe our lives were in danger. The knowledge of the grief and worry caused to my family during that time, still pains me today. This is not your typical man kidnaps woman, they fall in love anyway, and she is miraculously unaffected romance. These things are not so simple.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my submission. I am seeking representation for my novel "Haithem" under pen name Amber A Bardan, which is the first instalment in a three part series. The completed novel is approximately 95,000 words, and targeted to a 18+ Female readership who are seeking contemporary romance with erotic elements. I am an active member of Romance Writers Australia.

Thank you again for your time and consideration.

With sincere regards,


Timothy Maguire
Posted: Monday, August 27, 2012 4:00 PM
Joined: 8/13/2011
Posts: 272


Ok, word of warning: I'm not experienced in this, but here's my two (hundred) cents.

Firstly, you're starting at the wrong point with the synopsis here. From glancing at Haithem, I know that the central conflict is the 'kidnapping/unwilling relationship/ forced intimacy' part of it, yet this is entirely sidelined in some character discussion for the first paragraph. I'd have started with the kidnapping and let little hints of Angelina's personality and circumstances creep in from the sides instead. You're selling this as a romance, not as a character study.

Secondly, I'd consider reducing the size of this. The third paragraph (your personal saga and notes on the tropes of this) feels very unnecessary, while having two paragraphs for the plot feels excessive. Don't forget that a lot of agents ask for a separate synopsis, so your description of the novel's plot only needs to be short and to the point. In addition, your mentioning of your membership of the RWA doesn't feel particularly relevant, as it doesn't really say anything extra about your writing.

Finally, this does need some editing. Your second sentence has a confusing spelling mistake in it, which seems to only have slipped by because you haven't had a proper read through. Never trust Spellcheck to catch them all. In addition, you should probably indent your paragraphs so that it's a lot more clear when the reader's skimming it (as I'd assume your potential agents will do).

I hope this helps.
AmberABardan
Posted: Monday, August 27, 2012 9:16 PM
Joined: 8/20/2012
Posts: 10


Thanks for the feedback! Yes I would definately recheck and check and check again, spelling etc before sending to agents. I will have another go at it. Thank you.
AmberABardan
Posted: Monday, August 27, 2012 9:25 PM
Joined: 8/20/2012
Posts: 10


Is this a bit better for the synopsis portion?

Angelina has become an expert in the fine art of avoidance. When she is abducted by a gorgeous foreign stranger who kisses her in an elevator, everything changes. In the close confines of a yacht there is nowhere to run and no way to avoid. Somehow it is Haithem, the enigmatic tycoon who holds her captive, who becomes the one who can reach through her defences and draw her back into life.

But, Angelina's abduction has placed her life at peril, forcing her to remain his captive.  To make matters worse, another of Angelina's secrets prevent Haithem from giving into their desire, making for a veritable hotbed of sizzling sexual tension that begs for completion.


Jay Greenstein
Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 12:54 AM

Given the trauma you’ve already suffered at the hands of that editor, I hate to do this, but…

I am seeking representation for my novel "Haithem" under pen name Amber A Bardan, which is the first instalment in a three part series.
 
This data goes first, along with the word count. Leave out the pen name, though. It has nothing to do with the story you’re trying to sell. And, to simplify:

I am seeking representation for Haithem, a 95,000 word contemporary erotic romance.

1. I dropped completed. It’s assumed you know enough not to submit incomplete stories.

2. I left out the 18+ female designation because it’s erotic and romance. Obviously the intended audience is adult and female. (if by erotic elements you mean two or three sex scenes, though, leave out the “erotic,” designation). The person looking at this will be is in a hurry, so don’t waste a second of their time.

3.  You might want to mention that it’s the first of a trilogy later, as part of a, “Should Haithem be of interest, it’s the first of a planned trilogy.”

I am an active member of Romance Writers Australia.

Has nothing to do with the story or your qualifications, so it slows the reading while contributing nothing.

When you have spent most of your life as twin to a terminally ill sibling, it is easy to go unnoticed.

Doesn’t work I’m afraid. It’s generalities that I, as someone who knows nothing about the story, cannot parse into meaningful context. I don’t know who’s talking. I don’t know the time-frame or what “unnoticed” means in terms of the story or its effect on the, as yet, ungendered person involved. You have the pictures and the background in your mind. I don’t have that.

You talk about the difficulties with a dying sibling, but then, without amplifying/clarifying that, talk about a time after that unknown sibling dies of unknown causes at an unknown age. So what’s the important part, and what percentage of the novel is focused on before and after? No way to tell.

• So when a gorgeous older man suddenly sets his magnetic gaze on you, do you jump head long into his arms?

Rhetorical questions are not a good bet, because the reader don’t know the people or the events leading to the decision. Remember, at this point, based on what you’ve provided, this could be the story of a gay man.

• when I was 13, during my parents bitter divorce, my mother absconded with my sister and I to a friend's remote bush property in Kinglake.

A reader, based on what you’ve provided to this point, has no way to relate what you say in this section to the novel.

You need to approach this kind of thing from the viewpoint of an easily confused reader who knows only what your words mean to them.

Hang in there. It’s frustrating, but it does come.




AmberABardan
Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 2:08 AM
Joined: 8/20/2012
Posts: 10


Thanks Jay. I appreciate the feedback, that's why I posted this here. What do you think of the re-worked synopsis section?


Michael R Hagan
Posted: Saturday, November 17, 2012 4:35 AM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


Hi Amber
Where do I find the reworked synop, the previous comments have covered much of what I might say on this one, so no point repeating if you've already redrafted.
Beware the typos, they're unlikely to be forgiven in a synop or at any time before the hook has well and truly gone in. Also, I think you could elude to your having personel experience of the theme, without having to offer detail.
It's a bit mercenary, but the agent may imagine what they like, be curious and therefore wish to discuss further, or think to have already found a useful marketing strategum.
Best of Luck!

Michael R Hagan
Posted: Saturday, November 17, 2012 4:40 AM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229


P.S. I've a similar abdominal reaction when working on my own synop.
Condensing years of complex and painstaking work to one page, ready for judgement and possible dismissal................. the pressure, the pressure.Maybe we should abduct an agent, and make them read the entire work.

P.P.S. I'll add, if you do abduct an agent, this comment cannot be used to name me as an accomplice..... t'was not an offer or meaningful suggestion...... oh lord, delete, delete! 

Jay Greenstein
Posted: Monday, December 17, 2012 9:28 PM

I truly hate doing this. But you need to know.

When you have spent most of your life as twin to a terminally ill sibling, it is easy to go unnoticed.

What I got from this is that they’re only a few years old, because how long can you be terminally ill? And that’s not what you’re trying to say.

But that aside, you’re explaining. You’re talking to the reader about philosophical issues. But readers they want to know why they should read the story. You spent sixty words telling the reader,  “Angelina has little self confidence.” Do I give a damn why that’s true? No. As a reader I want to know what her self confidence has to do with the story. you mentioned it so it must, but I don't know how.

• So when a gorgeous older man suddenly sets his magnetic gaze on you, do you jump head long into his arms? Or, do you race for the hills as fast as your little legs can carry you?

I truly wish there was some easier way to say this, but the problem with this query is that we don’t learn the things needed to understand your words. You imply that the character finds the man attractive sexually and thinks him “gorgeous.” But we don’t know how old either she or the man are. We don’t know what  his staring at her means. And we don’t know why she decided to run, or even what that means so far as where she ran to or how she traveled. So the statement has no context. And when you ask what she should do—run or stay—can’t answer because I’m wondering why an apparently sexually mature “girl” has little legs.

I know you’re frustrated. You’ve worked damn hard on this story and want to please your reader. You’ve demonstrated the necessary interest, dedication and perseverance. But at the moment it appears that you need a better background in story presentation and composition, to improve both the story, and your understanding of what a reader needs to know.



 

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