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!