Sunday, December 28, 2014

Query Critique Winner

I hope you all had a great holiday!  I'm posting a bit early again because tomorrow is John's little brother's birthday and he is spending it in New York with us...I predict a lot of sneaker shopping in my immediate future, haha.  

Anyways, I'm excited to present the critique for the contest!  The winner was Daniel DiFranco, and his original query is below:


Dear Carrie,
Rock and roll is a young man’s game, and for Paul, who just joined an up-and-coming indie band, time is running out. This is the best shot he’s ever had. Paul and his band are hurled across the country by a momentum that is part self-made, and part created by arbitrary forces they encounter in pursuit of their dreams. As they tramp across the country to a gig in New York that could be their big break, Paul’s future becomes uncertain when his bandmates threaten to quit, cross paths with a self-serving, arrogant manager, and leave a bag of pot cookies around the wrong people. When Paul runs into an old friend who has been successfully working the scene in L.A., he questions if he has made the most of his life.

PANIC YEARS, in the same spirit as Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad, is a rock and roll road trip novel that gives the reader an insider’s view of a touring indie band. This book would especially appeal to music fans and young people who are trying to find their way in this world, and to those who have felt the deep personal call to adventure.

Some of my short stories have been published in journals like Philadelphia StoriesCrack the Spine, and Wyvern Lit. I have just completed my MFA and am a high school English and music teacher. I have spent the better part of the past two decades in bands.

Thank you for your time.
All the best,

Daniel DiFranco


And now here is the critique:


Dear Carrie,
Rock and roll is a young man’s game, and for Paul, who just joined an up-and-coming indie band, time is running out. [Does this mean that Paul is older?  Why can't he be successful as an older musician - is it because of some kind of physical demand or because fans only like heartthrobs?  Give me a little more here.] This is the best shot he’s ever had. Paul and his band are hurled across the country by a momentum that is part self-made, and part created by arbitrary forces they encounter in pursuit of their dreams. [You don't need to include this.  It only raises questions about the plot that aren't necessary to answer in a short query.] As they tramp across the country to a gig in New York that could be their big break, things start to fall apart instead of getting better like Paul thought they would.  Paul’s future becomes uncertain when His bandmates threaten to quit, they cross paths with a self-serving, arrogant manager [Who does what to them? Give them bad advice? Steal their money?], and leave a bag of pot cookies around the wrong people. When Paul runs into an old friend who has been successfully working the scene in L.A., he questions if he has made the most of his life. [How does meeting this person make him question himself?  Wouldn't it make it believe that it is possible to succeed in the music industry?  And wouldn't his bandmates' antics be the thing that make him wonder if he's made the most of his life?  I'm also left with the question: what does any of this have to do with being older and a rock and roll musician?  Clarify here a bit more for us.  Does he question if he should settle into a more corporate role in the music industry instead of following the avenue he has been pursuing?  Does he think about leaving the band?]
PANIC YEARS, in the same spirit as Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad, is a rock and roll road trip novel that gives the reader an insider’s view of a touring indie band. This book would especially appeal to music fans and young people who are trying to find their way in this world, and to those who have felt the deep personal call to adventure. [When you say young people, this makes me think that this is meant to be a NA novel.  If that is the case, I think there should definitely be a romantic element to the story that should be talked about in the query and Paul's age should be mentioned so that agents don't think that the story is about a forty-year-old rocker and for a different genre and then get confused here.] 
Some of my short stories have been published in journals like Philadelphia StoriesCrack the Spine, and Wyvern Lit. I have just completed my MFA and am a high school English and music teacher. I have spent the better part of the past two decades in bands. 
Thank you for your time.
All the best,

Daniel DiFranco

This is an intriguing concept and a great start.  What do you guys think of my edits to Daniel's letter?  Let him (and me) know.  Also, previously I had said that only the comments made on the day the query critique is posted count towards the eight needed to win the author treatment, but since it is Sunday and 8:00PM, both today and tomorrow (Monday) will count!

The next time you hear from me, I'll be 28 years old!!!  It looks like I am going to be a bit shy of my goal for 2014 deals...I guess my New Year's Resolution is going to be to work even harder and shoot for 8 deals in 2015!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Out of the Office

Posting a little earlier than usual because I am off to Connecticut to enjoy the holidays!  I've been working non-stop lately, so the idea of spending my time sleeping in, wrapping presents, and eating sounds great!  I also can't wait to see my Dad who was in the ER earlier last week.  He was having problems breathing because of a combination of asthma, allergies, and bronchitis, which was very scary.  He's okay now, though--I just really want to see him and give him a hug!

John is going to be working at the restaurant, so I'll be heading home by myself, but I'm sure he will be one of the main topics of conversation, since most of my extended family is going to figure out we're getting married when they see me (and my **GLITTERY RING**).

Hoping to do some reading on the train...maybe also hear about a few deals to make my 2014 goal?  Fingers crossed!

I hope everyone has a great holiday - I'm looking forward to returning to the city well-rested and pumped for 2015!!!!

Art from one of our amazing Prospect illustrators! Click to check out more artwork.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Surprise/s

Hi everyone!  Two important things:

1. Contrary to popular opinion, the query critique is still on...I still am looking for lucky #8. Keep entering your pitches!

2. John and I are going to be planning a wedding!!!!  Get ready for this to shamelessly turn into a publishing/bridal blog :)


Monday, December 8, 2014

Query Critique

Time for Query Critique Contest #2!  When I did this for the first time last month, I realized that there were rules and clarifications missing that I hadn't thought of, so I spent some time over the month figuring out how the contests will go.  If I'm still missing something, feel free to tell me in the comments!

QUERY CRITIQUE GUIDELINES

1. Once a month, I will announce that the contest is open.  Please email me your query with the subject heading LITERARY CARRIE QUERY CRITIQUE - my email is carrie(at)prospectagency(dot)com.  The eighth person to email me will win the query critique!

2. The critique will be posted in a month.  If the critique gets eight real comments that day (and by real, I mean comments about the choices I made when editing, questions about the critique, discussion about the way the author chose to word something, etc.), then the author will win an additional prize: the "author treatment," in which I will critique the first 100 pages of their novel the same way I would for my clients.  Comments by me or by the author do not count.

UPDATE AS OF 5/23/16: Because it has been taking me a very long time to get the "author treatment" winners their 100-page critiques, from now on, the additional prize for having eight meaningful comments on your critique will be critique of your first three chapters!

3. If you've entered a previous query critique, you can still enter following contests!

4. You can enter any query you like, even if it is in a genre that I normally do not represent.  Please be aware that if you submit in a genre I am not interested in, however, it is likely that my comments may not be as useful to you.

Also, this month's contest is now officially open!  May the odds be ever in your favor!


Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving!  John had to work (he has a job as a chef at the restaurant where I work) but I got to go home to see my family for the holiday.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorites: I love all the yummy food and now that I'm living in New York, I think I appreciate the cozy New England setting much more.  I was going to take a picture of the table to post here, but got so swept up in eating that I totally forgot.

No pics, but this is basically what I had :)

I also braved the madness and came back to the city for Black Friday shopping at Macy's AND Best Buy.  Talk about being a glutton for punishment.  John is very excited that I did, though, because we have a new TV for the apartment and all of our collective Christmas shopping done except for his little brother.


I was actually crazy enough to go into Macy's and lived this for an hour.  
There was also a protest going on outside, so it was a madhouse all around.

Now I can focus on reading for the month of December!  I've started in on a few client manuscripts and am REALLY hoping to make headway on those last two deals that I want/need for 2014.  Oh, Santa...


Will you give them to me?  WILL YOU?