Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Query Revision 64

Face-Lift 826: Lightning Strike
(Renamed from Hypes: The Last Legacy)

Dear (Agent),

In the world of superheroes, Nick Lawton is a rising star. As Cobalt, the 'Lightning Lawman', he's built a reputation defeating supervillains, rescuing citizens, and protecting his city from natural disasters. When Cobalt action figures-- with 'realistic sparking action'-- hit toy stores, Nick knows he's made it to the big leagues. Not bad for a guy who just turned 18.

A promotion to team leader means that Nick has to mentor rookie hero Alexa Franklyn. She's impetuous, beautiful, and, worst of all, more powerful than he is. He's also been saddled with a rival crime fighter disgruntled about being second-in-command, two bickering junior sidekicks, and a pushy public relations manager insistent on televising their every move. Nick's got to turn this collection of misfits into a team that will battle the forces of evil, instead of each other. He also has to deal with his attraction to Alexa, who might just have the same feelings-- for his rival.

Alexa is being stalked by Doctor Skorpios, a criminal mastermind with plans of his own for her. With a high-tech private army at his disposal, Skorpios isn't about to let his schemes be thwarted by a bunch of reality-show heroes. But if there's one thing the Lightning Lawman is good at, it's giving supervillains a shock.

LIGHTNING STRIKE is a YA science fiction novel, complete at 87,000 words. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.



Ding-Ding-Ding for the win!

I think this query is a great example of what the publishing world clamors for: the same thing but different. How do you make a *yawn* misfit superhero team battling a *yawn* criminal mastermind stand out from every serial comic book or superhero paperback out there? Through voice. I read this query and I automatically trust this author. I trust him to write well and I trust him to deliver the goods: a fun, rollicking good read for people who WANT more bickering superheroes.

It's up to the pages now to deliver. For the agent/editor to be predisposed to taking on a superhero novel. For the agent/editor to have not just signed on someone else with a fun, rollicking superhero read. For bookstores to be around in 2013.

There are so many things out of the writer's control. But writing a winning query (or having someone else write it for you!) isn't one of them. This one's a win in my book.

So is there anything I would change about it? Well, since you ask, the "promotion to team leader" comes as a bit of surprise since the first paragraph seems to set Nick up as an individual player. I was also a little torn over the stereotypical "beautiful" for Alexa. I played with "She's more impetuous, better looking, and worst of all, more powerful than he is," which adds a shade more snark. But really, you can play with something to death. I think it's fine as is with minor grammar tweaks to make it a pristine presentation:

  • Double quotes around "Lightning Lawman," and the comma goes inside the quote mark if this a US query
  • Add a space before all your m-dashes (--)
  • Delete the comma after "evil"
Great job (and a much better title)!


Sylvia said...

Wow. Has that ever happened before?

Phoenix said...

What, Sylvia -- that someone's written a good query or that Phoenix thinks a query is good? :o) Both have actually occurred before right here -- and on Evil Editor's site!

Note, too, that because of all that much-bally-hooed subjectivity business, while I may think a query needs more work, an agent may see something in it that I don't. And if it gets requests from people that matter, then it's a good query no matter what I think. So a good query and a query I like can indeed be mutually exclusive.

All-Stars said...

Fantastic job, author! I feel inspired to revise my query now.
May you receive many requests from this well-written letter. This sounds like a book I'd enjoy. The new title works great. Best of luck.

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Great job author.
Phoenix, you brought up a point I never thought about - trusting the writer.

Some queries I read (and I am not an expert here) I get a mental "oh no" and suck air through my teeth backward, hold my breath and kind of ride an up and down a 'coaster as I read through some letters.

This letter was easy to read I didn't get the above. So another lesson learned, if the letter makes the reader queasy, there is something wrong.

Add building trust/confidence in the reader to the query list of must do's.

The query should have that overall goal as well as everything else.

Sounds soo easy. There was a writer control in this I liked very much.