Query Critique #10

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jun 06 2007

A published friend of mine, Wendy Warren, has nothing but positive things to say about you. After reading your blog, it’s obvious she’s right. Beyond your humor and candor, your obvious dedication to your clients is undeniable.

Flattery is so brilliant! Wendy is a BookEnds client and it’s smart to use her name. It’s networking 101. And of course you say such nice things that I MUST read on. . . .

I’d like you to consider Relic Defender: Seal of Solomon the first book of an open-ended (Open-ended implies that the books don’t stand alone. Don’t use that word) paranormal series set in Chicago. The manuscript is complete at 95,000 words and features fallen angels, demons and a shape-shifting rock.

Cool. I’m still interested.

Though she denies it, Lexie Harrison is a lost soul desperately seeking something, and someone, to believe in. Without family, without faith, she hides behind a shell of calculated disdain allowing no one the opportunity to breach her defenses. To make her feel. To make her care. Until a battering ram in the form of a fallen angel, and a destiny she doesn’t want, shatters that shell.

On the path to his own redemption, fallen angel Simon St. John challenges Lexie to feel, to care while destiny forces her to take up the mantle of defender for a world she despises. A world which offers nothing but pain.

The previous two paragraphs are great and definitely capture my attention. Now I need one more paragraph that shows a little more about their conflicts. What is going to keep them apart/together and what they are battling. By showing some of that you’ll also (hopefully) give me a better idea of how the paranormal elements, and that cool shape-shifting rock, fit in.

I’m also not sure how this is going to be a series. Since you pitch it that way you’re going to have to tell me how that’s going to work.

If your conflict holds I would definitely request this.

I am an active member of my local RWA chapter and recently signed a contract with New Concepts Publishing, LLC for an action/adventure romance set in Earth’s future. If you are interested, I have sample pages of Relic Defender and other works in progress on my web site, under my pen name (www.cassielknight.com).


As one spoiled pet owner to another, I’m excited at the possibility of working with you. Thank you very much for your valuable time and consideration.

My time is no more valuable than yours. You could skip this sentence altogether.

Kimberly Wollenburg (If you write under a pen name it’s who you’ve become. Only use that name from here on out.)
Writing as Cassiel Knight
HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT, New Concepts, 2007

7 responses to “Query Critique #10”

  1. Avatar Kate says:

    Interesting about the pseudonym. Should an author query only with their pseudonym, or only drop the real name after the query? If it’s the former, does an author’s real name come into place at all?

  2. These are so great to learn from Jessica. How many more are you going to do?


  3. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I don’t know if this is the right place to ask a question, but regardless, I do have a question.
    I love your blog but see that you and other agents also write books.
    How does that happen and why?

    I think that you have the right to also be authors but what happens when you have an author who is as qualified as you to write a book, a publisher is looking for an author, and you get the job? Is this an agent perk? I write this with all the most respect. Seems you are always saying you are busy, so why writing books and not agenting?
    I have never been published but trying to understand the business.

  4. I love how you take apart queries. Thank you! Queries are the hardest part of writing and your blog helps me understand what to include and what to scrap.
    Question; Would it be ok to say something like “I’ve been studying your career for a few years and I am very impressed.”
    Or will I sound like a stalker? There are a few agents I’d love to work with because I’ve seen what they’ve been selling and how their authors have grown professionally. I watch agents in the news. What you’re selling, new agents who come on board or when someone moves to a different firm. It helps me know who might be interested in my work.

  5. I thought it wasn’t a good idea to say that sample pages could be found on your web site?

  6. I waited with baited breath hoping you would do mine. Thank you for the comments and the suggestion about conflict. I can certainly see what I’m missing. If you return to this blog entry, I, along with a couple posters, am curious about when an author would reveal his/her legal name. Would you possibly elaborate a little?

    I also found the post by JDuncan interesting. Your comments seem to reflect Ms. Faust’s comments about my query not showing the conflict. And important thing to miss, definitely, and it looks like I did. Of course, I am remedying that. Thanks for your comments as well as they also helped me see what I’m missing.

    And I’m very grateful that even without the conflict, Ms. Faust liked my query. Left me walking on air!


  7. Avatar JDuncan says:

    Admittedly, I’m at a loss as to why this query captured you so much. There’s redemption and destiny, and a very generalized feel to it. I’m not sure what the conflict/story is. There’s the mc who has to defend a world she doesn’t like. How? Why? What’s up with the angel’s redemption? Why does he want to challenge Lexie to come out of her shell? Is there an attraction between them? Jessica, you have harped on getting that conflict in there at all costs and what makes the story unique. What are you seeing here that is going totally over my head? This could be a great story, it might not, but I don’t see anything that tells me really what’s going on. Curious.