Query Critique 79

Dear [agent’s name],

[PERSONALISATION] As such, I thought you might enjoy my young adult novel, THE BACKSLIDERS.

Three years ago, Great Britain closed its borders and no-one has entered or left the country since. It’s now 2022 and eighteen year old Eve Mimieux wants one thing: to escape.

As the daughter of foreign born parents who are now banished from Britain’s shores, Eve is a precariat, the lowest class in New Britain. Eve survives on a pitiful wage she earns at the Military Police social club where she’s surrounded by the men who impose the rules she has come to hate. When a new Inquisitor appears and takes an interest in Eve, he gets dangerously close to learning her secret: Eve is a criminal.

Eve manages her hatred for the world she’s stuck in by gorging on the culture New Britain banned. With her twin brother, Jack, they form the Backsliders, who try to keep the books they love alive in the minds of readers. But the Backsliders clandestine existence could be about to come to an abrupt end when they encounter an Elite girl.

An Elite girl named Alice.

Alice Deering has a seemingly ideal existence, but hasn’t felt alive for a single moment of it. Smothered by her over-bearing mother and steered by The British Revival party’s strict morality laws, Alice is yet to make a single decision on her own. Alice hopes that entering the world of courtship will be everything her mother promises and more. When her first assignation is interrupted by an act of vandalism, she finds herself in the company of the criminals who are the focus of a citywide manhunt.

Overall, I would say this query is pretty strong. However, it is missing stakes. I don’t feel as much of a sense of danger as I think I should. Refer to my post on stakes for more information.

Told in a dual point of view, THE BACKSLIDERS is a 100,000 word YA speculative fiction novel. It is stand-alone with series potential and may appeal to readers of LEGEND by Marie Lu or Louise O’Neill’s ONLY EVER YOURS. Leave your title in all caps, but put comp titles in italics to set them apart. Also, this is more a problem with the industry than the query, but this sounds very typical dystopia, which is a hard sale right now. If you have non-dystopic elements, I would try to play those up. Try to categorize your genre as something other than speculative fiction, as that’s not very specific. And it sort of feels like you’re just trying to avoid calling it dystopia.

Thank you for your consideration.

Query Critique 66

If being shy around girls were a serious disease, sixteen-year-old Jason Martyr would be on the terminal list.  It turns out girls are the least of his worries when a secret government agency abducts him, claiming he has a rare genetic ability to travel through time.  I like this opening! Fun spin on the “so and so was a normal teen until…” formula I see a lot. The agency threatens Jason’s family and friends to ensure his cooperation. Something about this sentence seems a little abrupt. I think it may be the wording more than the concept. Important information, though, obviously.

His mission is to go back in time to stop a ruthless secret society called the Masters of Infinity from altering history and taking control of the future.  Their next attack is a 1937 coup attempt aimed at deposing FDR and installing a fascist dictator in his place.  If the Masters succeed, the U.S. may never take part in World War II, setting off a catastrophic domino effect through the rest of the timeline. Good job establishing conflict!

All Jason wants is to return to his normal life and the quest for the perfect girl. Before that can happen he must survive martial arts training from the most dangerous fighter in the world, and then prevent the Masters’ henchmen from carrying out the coup. His enemies know he is coming, and have some lethal surprises in store for him. I don’t know if this is necessary. It’s a little to vague to have a real punch, and you’ve already established a lot of conflict in the letter. Jason will go home when he completes the mission – if he survives.  It’s good that you’re establishing stakes. I think it could have a little bang though. This last sentence isn’t terrible, but it feels a little weaker than the rest of the query. Overall, a very good summary though.

THE DESTINY MATRIX, a work of speculative fiction for the YA market, is complete at 82,000 words. I don’t particularly mind “speculative fiction” as a genre label, but I know some agents prefer something more specific.  It features action sequences similar to the television series Chuck, and light science fiction aspects similar to Roland Smith’s Cryptid Huntersseries.  It is a stand-alone novel with series potential. 

I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism and MBA with emphasis in marketing, both from the University of Missouri. 

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Query Critique 33

I commented in purple cause the main character is very manly… And I was too lazy to change away from purple after I chose it.


Life as a clone of Alexander the Great is just one big Gordian Knot. I started out really excited about this hook, because clone of Alexander the Great is really cool. But then it sort of lost me because I have no idea what a Gordian Knot is. I looked it up, and now I know it’s a thing. Maybe it’s something people should have heard of, but I hadn’t.
In near future England, Alexander 2.0 has been fighting his impulses since a childhood head injury roused his ancient memories. His warrior side wants to eviscerate anyone who crosses him. His domesticated side keeps a tight rein on his urges for the sake of his medical career and family.
But the normalcy Alexander longs for starts to slip away after he protects the son of a dangerous, drug-dealing acquaintance. He threatens to expose the illegal activities, and the dealer tries to silence him. Is he and him in this paragraph referring to Alexander or the drug dealing son? Alexander nearly loses his wife and infant children, and he ends up in the hospital with a bullet in his chest. When he awakens, so does a bloodlust of epic proportions. His fury only deepens when he learns his assailant has evaded police and disappeared.
With his peaceful world spiraling beyond his control, Alexander can no longer suppress the impulses that dominated his ancient life. Now the greatest danger he faces isn’t battling a psychopath. It’s keeping his thirst for revenge from turning him into one.

Complete at 119,000 words, THE SANDS OF HIS EMPIRE is speculative fiction with a historical twist and series potential. Any comparative titles? I read Jasper Fforde’s The Eyer Affair recently, and that has some sort of similar elements. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Awesome Author 2.0

Some sort of general questions I have. I’m not sure how many of them you can address in the query, but decide which might be important to talk about. The more you can compress what you have (without making it confusing of course) the more of this you can address.

Does Alexander know he’s a clone?

Does he know who cloned him? 

Is cloning common?

Are there clones of other famous people?