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  1. #1
    Lisa Werth

    Because there is a craft in writing queries.

    So it did cross my mind that the agents may have been on overloaded over at the other forum these past few days. Before work this morning when I couldn't get on , I was blaming myself. So knowing tht they don't lurk here and Haymish made some suggestion about easing up on them. I won't take chances and post this here.

    I have played around with paragraph order for quite a bit tonight, and hope I got the sequence to flow smoothly.
    It's the last one I'll post on Committed. promise Haymish.

    Dear XXX,

    There are hundreds of in-home child-care providers in the United States, and it is a difficult employment environment to monitor. Just as no guarantees exist for the children, parents, and their home, there are no assurances that the nanny won't be placed in a distressing position.

    Leah Westin finds herself raising three children after their drug addicted doctor mother dies. The challenges this live-in nanny endures are chronicled in COMMITTED FOR A YEAR.

    There's a code of silence in the medical community. Statistics suggest that between ten to fifteen percent of all U.S. doctors have a problem with drugs and/or alcohol. In this story, Leah is caught between former patients phoning for medical files and other information she can't provide them and keeping quiet for the sake of the children so that further public legal action is avoided.

    Leah's journal entries expose struggles with boundaries. The children want a stable "mom" and their father needs a "pseudo-wife" to manage the house and family. In her writing, Leah also attempts to reconcile her guilt over her responses to people in a variety of situations that nearly send her over the edge.

    Based on my own true-life experience, COMMITTED FOR A YEAR, explores the precarious relationships between the wealthy, and the people who live with and work for them. Changes of names, locations, and some other things were made. Plus, the people in the real life situation have moved out of the area where this took place.

    Would you like to see the synopsis and complete manuscript?
    Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Lisa J. Werth

  2. #2
    Matt H

    Re: Because there is a craft in writing queries.


    I haven't commented up to this point, knowing how difficult it is to get this right, but I'm sorry I think you have completely missed the mark here.

    Did you read what that agent wrote? Based on what I see here I doubt you did, or that you took her seriously.

    As I recall she said boil your book down to one sentence, and make it compelling.

    You've put a lead in for the six o'clock news. Snooze.

    Go back and read what that agent, that person with YEARS of experience, said.....then do it.


  3. #3

    Re: Not PLUS

    And do not use the word "plus." Ever. It absolutely screams "amateur."

    (one of my peeves)

    Keep trying, Lisa. You'll get it. Pretend it's someone else's book completely for some perspective. Don't get discouraged!

  4. #4
    P. Rajaswal

    No Harm Intended

    Lisa, I mean you now harm, dear, but my question to ask of you would be this.
    With the successful publication of The Nanny Diaries, what makes you think the world is hungry for another plate of the same dish? Might one book about this topic satisfy the marketplace for the foreseeable future?
    Surely writing is about satisfying what readers want to read--and not what you, no matter how boldly, want to write?


  5. #5
    Lisa Werth

    Re: No Harm Intended

    I did read what the agent wrote, books, and wha tother people posted. While she said boil it down to one sentence, to hook her and others. She did mean that it was to only be a one sentence query. If that were the case many people on these boards and other places have missed the boat.

    Liz, I am trying to keep in mind that is somebody else's story. Removed the plus, I'm getting to the point that I've gotten enough help on it, tried to take it and write, and am now getting more mixed suggestions, and on advice overload. I leave for ework soon, will not think about it all day. And come back to it tonight.

    Over the last several posts, witht the helpof others came to the conclusion that this isn't a copy cat, th etopics are very differnet. It was a coincidence that the two had similiar titles. I've altered mine and will make no reference to ND in my query.
    Similiar genre books are on the market constantly whethter fiction or nonfiction.
    Correction- Successful publishing is about satisfying what readers want to read--and not what we, no matter how boldly, want to write. (There are a lot of books in print that make money that aren't what readers want to read.)
    Do I have a hundred percent guarantee that this book will be successful? No! Can anybody here offer that about their manuscripts? If they did, I'd be skeptical.
    Have I researched the market to see if there is a story similiar to this? Yes, and there doesn't appear to be any that address the personal side of drug addiction of doctors. I do have a unique story with strong themes that collide.
    If all of us doubted our work, as much as you perhaps were attempting to get me to do with mine, we wouldn't try to get published.

  6. #6
    Matt H

    Re: No Harm Intended


    One last shot. We all know how painful this is. In order to help you I went back to NorCal's original response to your query. It's easy when we receive criticism to attack the critic.

    Now, listen. She said boil your book down to one sentence. Of course she didn't mean write a one sentence query...stop being so defensive. She said you need to boil your book down to a central premise that makes her sit up and say "Oh, I want to know more!"

    What you've written here reads like the narrator of a documentary. No one cares in the fiction market if the book is based on your own experiences. It's supposed to be fiction. Throw out all the crap about doctors and statistics and all that B.S. and give them something compelling.

    This query, as written, doesn't meet the high standard NorCal put out in her response.


  7. #7

    Re: No Harm Intended

    I can only add that by opening the way you do, and continually talking about statistics, your query seems to be about a work of non-fiction. I personally don't think statistics are necessary in a query letter about a work of fiction. And it doesn't help to mention that this is based on your personal experiences - again, makes it seem like non-fiction.

  8. #8
    Cathy Kaplan

    Re: No Harm Intended

    I don't get to frequent this page often, so I know little about your book aside from this post. That may be good in the sense that maybe I can offer an 'outsider' point of view.

    I am not an expert on queries by any means. So, I'll just offer one thing I observed.

    I actually thought that your book was nonfiction. I didn't realize it until the end of the letter that it wasn't. I agree with a couple other people in the thread about the statistics. Since you threw out all of those numbers, I took it that your work was related to those numbers in a factual book.

    I wish you luck and hope it works out for you!

  9. #9
    k andrews

    Re: No Harm Intended

    I second both Matt's points - I too have avoided commenting up to now. I believe, from reading your posts when yout alk about your book (but not your queries) that you have a strong and marketable book written from a real desire to tell a story. None of this comes across in your query letter which is too dry, too dull and - dare i say - too drafted.

    Writing a query letter - as I've said before - should not be this much work. Leave it for a week and then come at it again with some passion. Don't even use what youpost above as a guide - start fresh and imagine you're talking to a friend.

    I have a friend who has recently got two requests for full ms from top agencies - and i later found outhis query letter said "Dear Agent, I enclose three chapters of a novel."

    So don't turn this into such a battle!

  10. #10
    nate lewis

    Re: No Harm Intended

    My completed, 87,000 word novel, COMMITTED FOR A YEAR, explores the precarious relationships between the wealthy, and the people who live with and work for them.

    Hired to care for the children of a drug-addicted physician, Leah Westin (same initials as yours? Is this a good idea since it's based on your experience?)finds herself held to her contract when the woman dies. Leah tries to provide a stable mother figure figure for the children and slowly realizes she is becoming a pseudo wife to the children's father.

    Blah blah blah, a short paragraph or sentence aboutyou and then a requset to send a sample.

    the end.


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