Monday, May 28, 2018

Query Critique

Happy Memorial Day and happy query critique time!  For everyone who enters (and those who don't) spread the word so that even if you don't submit a query, you encourage others to read and comment.  Thanks :)



If you're not familiar with how to enter, take a look at my previous post to read the rules.  Good luck!  

Monday, May 21, 2018

Tip Time

It's Tip Time!  This month I thought I would talk about how to nail your genre.  



I see a lot of queries where authors get their genre wrong or in an abundance of caution, classify their manuscripts using the broadest possible strokes, e.g. "I am querying you because you represent fiction."  

This is a mistake because even though you may have a fantastically written manuscript, being too broad or just completely getting your genre wrong shows agents that you don't really know the marketplace, which is essential knowledge to have, since as we all know, promotion efforts will definitely fall on your shoulders when your project publishes, regardless of where you land.

To familiarize yourself with different genres, I strongly suggest taking the time to cruise Publishers Marketplace, to see the kinds of deals that are being done each day and note which projects are similar to yours and how they are being classified (you can either sign up for a subscription or receive a free newsletter).  For instance, you might think that your historical fiction about Highlanders belongs in the historical fiction category, but after scrolling through several pages, you'll probably see that anything about Highlanders pretty much automatically belongs under romance and that labeling it as anything else will be more of an uphill battle, both for you and for a potential agent.

Another easy thing to do is to just park yourself at a Barnes & Noble or your local library one day and walk the shelves.  You might see that instead of calling your book an adventure story, you should really label it as a thriller or that since your protagonist is going off to college, your book is really more New Adult than YA.  Looking at comp titles is also a great way to see where your book fits into the publishing landscape!

Doing this will help give an agent a favorable impression when you query them and help you determine which agents you should send to when looking at what genres an agent does and doesn't represent.  We're always glad to see authors who know what they're talking about and have clearly done their research!

Monday, May 14, 2018

I Ardently Want Your ROMANCE Submissions

As we get closer to summer, I am realizing I am SUPER hungry for romance subs to read on the beach or during those long-haul airplane rides! Since they haven’t been appearing in my inbox as much as I’d like I thought I’d write a blog about exactly what I am looking for! 

damsel in distress feminism GIF 

I am interested in pretty much all romance sub-genres, except for Christian. I love contemporary romances that are adorable without being predictable, sassy, funny characters, LGBTQ, historical, steamy/erotica, paranormal, and anything in between. Romance authors who are savvy and have great platforms already will definitely catch my eye!

More specifically, I am always looking for a romance about baking or food (think GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF!), but if you have a millennial romance about young graduates figuring out life, with diverse characters, or involving technology, that is also on the top of my romance wish list, so please send it to me! I tend to gravitate toward quirky romances with strong, spunky heroines and guys that don’t brood too much! I want plots that aren't purely romance-driven but have a storyline involving transformation for the main character outside of her relationship.


Recent reads:

SILVER trilogy by Kate Valentine

ONCE UPON A TIARA series by Carolyn Hector

THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne

ALL SOULS trilogy by Deborah Harkness

ROYALLY ROMA by Teri Wilson

THE SECRET LIFE OF VIOLET GRANT by Beatrice Williams


I am NOT interested in romances about naive wallflowers who are swept off their feet by domineering (leaning towards abusive) men. In contemporary romance, think more Alexa Martin or Sophia Kinsella, and less Nicholas Sparks. I always wish steampunk would take off in the market, but it just doesn’t seem to sell, so it’s sadly not for me!


Here are some of my romance authors, whose books I LOVE:

Lauren Smith

Suzy K. Quinn

Alana Delacroix

Nicole Trilivas

Suggested by Farin Schlussel on Facebook.

Check out the last post I made about romance books here or take a peek at my Manuscript Wishlist here.


Monday, May 7, 2018

Query Critique Winner

Hello, all!  This month's lucky #8 is Nina!!  Congrats, Nina!  Here is her original query:

Dear Ms. Pestritto,
 Emerging from an unstable childhood, Mick Hardaway creates a life with his own special family. They share their lives, advise him, listen to his woes, and love him unconditionally like nobody ever has. Only problem? They are photographs.

 
When the twenty-three year old has a shot at a genuine relationship with a sweet intelligent coworker, he tries to ditch the photo family. They refuse to let him go. He fights back by writing them off as imaginary, each a metaphor of his own life, while his ties to the real world grow stronger. When he reaches out and seeks help, the social worker who comes to his aid is a man from of one of his photos. Then a new photo enters into his life, a school picture of a small child. Her stories of escalating violence between the adults in her life sound too much like his own past. And if she is real, he is the only adult who knows she needs to be rescued.
PICTURES OF US is a 78,000 word adult magic realism novel. told from two POVs. Mick’s is the dominant one. Kaitlin, the child in danger, is the other. This novel would appeal to fans of Alice Hoffman and Erin Morgenstern.

 
I’m both a longtime volunteer with Killer Nashville Writers Conference and a contest reader for the Claymore Dagger Award. I am also an active member of Nashville Writers Meetup. An award winning short story writer, my work has appeared in Nashville Noir, Everyday Fiction, Origami Journal, Rose Red Review and 101 Words. I have an upcoming piece in an anthology by Anchala Studios. I currently live in the hills around Nashville, TN with my husband, a slightly odd dog and a passel of scenic chickens.

Thank you for taking the time to consider Pictures of Us.


And here is my critique:




Dear Ms. Pestritto,
 Emerging from an unstable childhood, Mick Hardaway creates a life with his own special family. They share their lives, advise him, listen to his woes, and love him unconditionally like nobody ever has. Only problem? They are photographs. [I feel like you can have a more dynamic start here.  Something like what I added to really draw the reader in...]  Every day, Mick Hardaway wakes up and has coffee with noted chatterbox Lucy.  As he gets dressed, he talks with his stylish friend Tom, and on the bus, he and Professor Kimble share earbuds to listen to their favorite podcasts.  It would be a very fulfilling life if any of these people were real.
PICTURES OF US is a 78,000 word adult magic realism novel told from two POVs: Mick's and a young girl named Kaitlin's. Mick’s is the dominant one. Kaitlin, the child in danger, is the other. This novel would appeal to fans of Alice Hoffman and Erin Morgenstern.[We need clarification about who these photo people are/their origins right from the start so I moved this paragraph.  The reader needs to understand right away whether these are random pictures that Mick imagines into life and if he talks to them in a magical realism sense or in a schizophrenic sense.]
  Riddled with social anxiety, Mick has never been able to talk with people in real life, and instead finds comfort by taking photographs of interesting-looking men and women who cross his path and bringing them to life in his mind. But Wwhen the twenty-three-year old finally has a shot at a genuine relationship with a sweet, intelligent coworker, he tries to ditch the photo family. They refuse to let him go his photo family refuses to let him go. He fights back by writing them off as imaginary, each a metaphor of his own life, while his ties to the real world grow stronger. When, but when he reaches out and seeks help, the social worker who comes to his aid is a man from of one of his photos pictures. Then he meets Kaitlin, a young girl in a school photo a new photo enters into his life, a school picture of a small child. Her stories of escalating violence between the adults in her life sound too much like his own past. And if she is real, he is the only adult who knows she needs to be rescued. 
PICTURES OF US is a 78,000 word adult magic realism novel told from two POVs. Mick’s is the dominant one. Kaitlin, the child in danger, is the other. This novel would appeal to fans of Alice Hoffman and Erin Morgenstern.


 I’m both a longtime volunteer with Killer Nashville Writers Conference and a contest reader for the Claymore Dagger Award. I am also an active member of Nashville Writers Meetup. An award winning short story writer, my work has appeared in Nashville Noir, Everyday Fiction, Origami Journal, Rose Red Review and 101 Words. I have an upcoming piece in an anthology by Anchala Studios. I currently live in the hills around Nashville, TN with my husband, a slightly odd dog and a passel of scenic chickens.

This is definitely an interesting premise.  I like the unique idea behind this story, but felt like the way the query was originally set up brought up too many confusing questions.  As you can see, I did some reorganizing and clarification to make these read more smoothly and comprehensively.  I hope this is helpful, Nina--you have a good start!

Chime in with comments and questions below!