Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday Query Hop Critique 10

Another wonderful agent has donated her time. Today we're helped out from Clelia Gore from Martin Literary Management
Keep in mind that feedback is subjective by nature. What does and does not catch the eye is going to vary by person. Each writer must weigh the comments they get against their own judgement and make the changes that resonate with them.

The Holiday Query hop is closed. Please make sure you get your 10 critiques done.  
The random number generator picks 12!
Dear Blog Hoppers,

If Phoebe has to hear her friends squeal over one more fictional vampire, she’s going to write another expose about it, preferably one that gets more notice than…. So when she’s attacked by a vampire one night, she’s shaken but vindicated (I don’t think vindicated it quite the right word—how about “thrilled”); she has the story of the century and proof that vampires really do suck. Unfortunately, it’s the one story she can’t tell according to Benjy, the cute vampire hunter that saved her life.

Phoebe is determined to fight back (against? For what?), and she’s willing to do it with or without Benjy’s help. Luckily, he agrees to give her the full Buffy experience. Balancing vampire hunting lessons, cross-country practice and her campaign to snag the prime fall article for the paper are hard enough. It becomes almost impossible when Emlen, the vampire that attacked her, reappears.

When he Emlen? entangles himself romantically with her best friend, Phoebe is terrified that her friend will become his next victim. With Phoebe under hunter protection, Emlen turns his attention to the people Phoebe loves, smashing cars and locking them in coffins. Phoebe and Benjy work together to smoke him out and reduce him to dust, all while attempting to keep her friends in the dark about her newest extracurricular.

But secrets don’t always work out so well, and vampires are crafty bastards. Phoebe must make her moves carefully, or risk sacrificing everything and everyone she loves, including her own existence.

HIGH-STAKES, a YA paranormal novel, is complete at 85,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

This was good query. It was told in a pitch-y style that kept me interested as I read through. The tone and style were appropriate for the book and the book’s audience. I could tell this query was diligently crafted by a writer exhibiting professionalism. As I point out above, there are a couple of little holes that prevent the query-reader from getting a full understanding of the plot, but that is resolved with some easy fixes.

Vampire novels have a sort of stigma to them in the post-Twilight and its progeny world. I think you should address that stigma head on, and explain why this particular novel will resonate with today’s YA readers, who may be suffering from vampire fatigue. 

Unfortunately, there is a high burden of proof on the writer of vampire novels these days to show that vampire books are still relevant in today’s YA market. I think it’s actually pretty funny that this book plays with the cultural phenomenon of vampire books and pokes fun at it – I think that’s your angle and you should lead with that. Agents are reading queries quickly and don’t assume that they will infer things from your query – lay it all out there for them and address things head on.

I would top this query off with a few lines re: the author’s writing credentials and any kind of publishing history and you have yourself a solid query!


Clelia Gore is an agent specializing in children's and young adult books at Martin Literary Management. She doles out observations, industry news, and writer tips on Twitter at @MadmoiselleClel. You can read more about her and the agency at www.martinliterarymanagement.com

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