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  1. #1
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    Query Letter- GOODBYE HUMBLE PENNY (formerly The Ten Thousand Steps to Goodbye)

    Well I took all your good advice to heart and rewrote my query letter about a dozen times and re-titled my book too. I am submitting it your chopping block. Please hack away!

    Dear Agent,

    After the sudden death of 31-year-old Delilah Brown's fiance, Humble, she attempts to overcome grief the only way she knows how: one foot in front of the other. On highways and back roads Delilah follows the trails of her former wanderlust life, but finds she canít reenter it. Along with her backpack and her grief Delilah carries within herself a spiral of guilt from her last night spent at home in the arms of Humble's best friend Pete.

    Delilah tries to bring her troubles into perspective against the enormity of the American West. Zigzagging across a map she had so often traveled alone Delilah comes to understand the solitude that brought her clarity in the past now gives rise to questions she canít answer alone. When she discovers that sheís pregnant Delilah begins, for the first time, to turn to others for guidance. Some are friendships that last only the length of a car ride and some span the distance back to the rough road of her childhood. Livestock haulers, ex-boyfriends, rock climbers, a long lost sister, they all help Delilahís wondering shoes onto a new path. But can she find the strenght go down this new road? A road that leads back to the only place she has ever called home and to the man she walked away from. A man who has come to embody everything Delilah has lost and everything she might again hope for.

    GOODBYE HUMBLE PENNY is contemporary fiction, complete at 63,000 words. This is my first novel.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Sincerely,

    Marika Guthrie



  2. #2
    Rogue Mutt
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    First you want to correct the typo in this sentence, "the strenght go down this new road"

    And "all help Delilah’s wondering shoes onto a new path." I assume you mean WANDERING shoes

    You also don't need to say it's your first novel.

    I don't see anything in here that really paints an interesting picture. It's a bunch of vague talk that sounds like navel gazing. These people she meets are they funny or tragic or crazy? I mean the agent in question probably gets 1000 queries a day so why should they be interested in your story?

  3. #3
    Member Lawrence Tabak's Avatar
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    I picked up those two errors as well. Also strength is misspelled. Have you really spent time on these few hundred words? Does your manuscript have this many errors per paragraph? If so, you should not be considering submission. That said, this version has considerably more information about the story than the original, but I agree with Rogue that some telling details would up the ante.

  4. #4
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    I apologize for the typos and no my manuscript does not have that many typos per paragraph. I finished my manuscript before I found out that I was SURPRISE pregnant with #3 and so would be raising three kids under three instead of finally getting to focus on my writing. Trying to write a query letter while caring for a 3 year old, a 15 month old, and a six week old is pretty challenging. A lot of the time I am typing with one hand. I can see now that it is too vague and in need of some more telling details. Back to work. Thank you for your honesty. Hopefully i will have something better for you soon.

  5. #5
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    Marika,

    I like the premise of your tale. You can do all kinds of things with it.

    I'll offer comments. Keep in mind they're worth what you paid for 'em.

    My thoughts are in CAPS. Not yelling at you, just making 'em easier to see.

    After the sudden death of 31-year-old Delilah Brown's fiance, Humble, she attempts to overcome grief the only way she knows how: one foot in front of the other. On highways and back roads Delilah follows the trails of her former wanderlust life, but finds she canít reenter it. Along with her backpack and her grief Delilah carries within herself a spiral of guilt from her last night spent at home in the arms of Humble's best friend Pete.

    OKAY, LET'S MESS WITH THE ABOVE PARAGRAPH AND SEE WHAT WE CAN DO.

    WHEN DELILAH BROWN'S FIANCE DIES SUDDENLY, SHE HITS THE ROAD THE HARD WAY. ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER, REDISCOVERING HER FORMER WANDERLUST. EXCEPT SHE CAN'T RE-ENTER IT. HER BACKPACK AND GRIEF ARE HEAVY. BUT THE REAL WEIGHT IS HER GUILT ABOUT HER LAST NIGHT WITH HER FIANCE'S BEST FRIEND.

    OKAY, CAPS off. I'll quit here. Your next paragraph is a laundry list. There's nothing to get this reader interested in any of them except in a very general way. Remember, this is precious real estate. Mess with the last paragraph. See what you can come up with.

    I'll read again. If your have sufficient courage, and you must have as a mother of three under three, post the first couple pages of your tale in the appropriate forum.

    Again, I like your premise.

    Cur

  6. #6
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    63K is pretty short. You might want to think up some more story.

    I don't buy that she feels guilty about sleeping with her fiance's best friend. Her fiance died for crying out loud. She's in pain, vulnerable, looking for comfort in the storm...any number of rationalizations she could use to quell any supposed guilt. Heck, I could more see them being a couple for a time until she starts to heal emotionally from her fiance's death, then she decides to break it off. Maybe some pain, but not much guilt. Now if her fiance were alive, and she slept with his best friend, then yep - hefty guilt.

    Yeah, pretty vague. So winning this former lover is the end game for her? I think you need to reveal a lot more conflict. Maybe he hates her guts because of how she hurt him AND has a new girlfriend now, but Delilah really wants him back. Can she make him see how much she's really changed? That sort of thing.

  7. #7
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    I wouldn't worry too much about having a short word count. While longer books tend to be more popular, agents aren't likely to take first-time authors with huge manuscripts either. I don't understand why agents always asks for shorter books because most readers I know like longer books. Oh well.

    Obviously the typos have been pointed out, and I think you have some pretty good lines in here, but I want to know the stakes. What does she stand to lose? to win? I know she is going on a journey, but aside from traveling from place to place, what's the plot? I see the ideas, now I need to know what's stringing them together.

    I agree with Oberon about the guilt thing too. Sleeping with her finace best while the finace is alive should induce a lot more it.

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