Thanks to all of your contributions, Workshop Wednesday has been a success. We’re going to continue on with it for as long as we have entries and the energy to comment on them. If you haven’t yet submitted but are still interested, don’t be afraid to participate as per the guidelines in our original post.
For anyone wanting to comment, we ask that you comment in a polite and respectful manner, and we ask that you be as constructive as possible. If you can be useful to the brave souls who submitted their query and comment on the query, that’s great. Please keep any anonymous tirades on publishing or other snarky comments to yourself. This is and should remain an open and safe forum for people to put themselves and their queries out there so that everyone can learn. I’m leaving comments open and open to anonymous posters, as I always have; don’t make me feel the need to change that policy.
And for those who have never “met” Query Shark, get over there and do that. She’s the originator of the query critique, the queen, if you will.
Dear Ms. Editor
I would like you to consider working with me on the following manuscript.
We have agents here, not editors. And nobody here has the last name Editor. This makes me think you haven’t done your research. Also, and this is just my personal opinion, but something about your first sentence makes me feel a bit condescended to, as though you’re commanding me to do something in a nice way. “Please consider . . .” might be more effective.
Landing in New York in 1910, Martin Crain fell in love with the American Dream and reached out for it with both hands. Determination, hard work and his own inate loyalty, made him rise from chauffeur to the personal assistant of a wealthy industrialist.
Misspellings and errors in grammar and punctuation in a query are a pet peeve of mine. In a 100,000-word manuscript, errors are more forgivable, but you only had to write half a page and you’ve misspelled something any email program or word processor would highlight. Now you look lazy.
We meet his employer,whom Martin calls “the Mister”; the Mister’s great love – Miss Ellie, his wife, his brother; Martin’s son, Mo and Mo’s cousin – DoeDoe (through whose eyes and memories the story is told).
If DoeDoe (whoever he or she is) is the narrator, why don’t we know more about him or her? What gives this person the authority to tell the story?
We’re halfway through the query and I know all the characters’ names, which mean nothing to me, but have no idea what they do (or even what the narrator’s gender is) or what conflict is presented.
This story follows Martins life, and those of his family in the Irish neighborhoods of mid-Manhattan, and through the homes and lives of his wealthy employers.
This might be interesting. But I’m thinking, “And?” Are there comparisons between the extreme poverty and social stigmas the Irish suffered in 1910 and the comfort of the wealthy? Because it sounds like there might be, and this is fascinating to me. But you haven’t given me a chance to see it.
When tragedy struck and Martin’s grip on his dream slipped, his loyalty never faltered.
Aha! I see a glimmer of conflict. I can tell it is there, but you haven’t told me what it is. What tragedy struck Martin and his grip on his dream? Indeed, what is his dream? The American Dream is relative—it could mean a picket fence and a golden retriever, or it could mean ownership of a filthy deli in Hell’s Kitchen.
Through betrayal, deaths, murder, persecution, failures and personal misery, Martin was never known to speak a word of blame for his beloved “Mister”.
Why would he blame Mister? This is the problem here. I get a vague sense of what this book is about, but in order to want to read more, I need specificity. What happened and how was it rectified, if it was?
They say ‘no good deed goes unpunished’, but perhaps in the end, Martin’s devotion would be rewarded?
Well, is it or isn’t it? And in what way? Because my opinion of the story hinges upon knowing what happens, I do not like having the ending dangled in front of me like a carrot. I feel like you’re saying to me, “If you really want to know the answer and can’t stand the suspense, you’ll request my proposal.” And that feels sneaky and tricky. If you had confidence in your own plotting and the ending of your own story, you would have been too willing to tell me all about it. And I honestly wanted to hear it.
Thank you for taking time to read this.
I like this closing. Simple and respectful.
I would reject this because even though I like stories that show the polarity of American socioeconomics, and I like stories about turn-of-the-twentieth-century New York City, I can’t tell from your query what the meat of the story is.