Meet the BBC Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description RC Lewis
and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.
Art by Lynn Phillips Nelson
We all know the first line of a query is your “hook.” I call the last line the “sinker.” You want it to punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.
Also, for my brave Saturday Slash volunteers I will gladly do follow-up slashes (each more kindly than the next) on your query if you post them on the Query Critique board over on AgentQuery Connect
. You’ll get advice from me, and also people who are smarter than me. If you do post on AQ, be sure to follow the guidelines and let me know you posted so that I can follow up!
And now for the next brave volunteer. For clarity, my comments are in yellow.
Pizza, Juice Box, Lemon Chiffon, Waffle and Cupcake (Cake for short) spring to life with the promise of a warm summer day, the excitement of the first day of school, and the anticipation of a snow day that’s just begging for sledding. I like the voice here, and the peppy tone. The only thing that’s throwing me off here is the mention of summer, the jump to school, and then we’re in winter. It feels a little all over the place. The offer to be a best friend in exchange for winning a race, fashion criticism on the first day of school and Cake’s boisterous arrival nearly destroying a lemonade stand, are just some of the adventures Pizza and his band and face together. This here seems like a much better attention-getter. Any kid’s book is going to feature first-day-of school excitement, but fashion criticism tells us exactly where yours is coming from, the same is true with the lemonade stand comment giving us more insight other than just – YAY! Summer is fun!! that we get in the first line. Summer s fun in all kid’s books – the second line does the job of telling us what happens in yours, specifically.
Always present in a child’s world, these favorite kid foods of pizzas, juice boxes, waffles and cupcakes become more than just food. Although typically thought of as delicious and tasty, my characters must learn to face and overcome the challenges of friendship on the playground and in the neighborhood, just as their young readers do. NIce, this is good. I don’t know a lot about writing chapter book queries, but I’m sure that you need to communicate what the lesson is here, and you’ve done that well.
For nearly three years, I have written for MyVeronaNJ.com, an online media site where I publish weekly food stories with recipes, book reviews, new business features, and day trips for families. Additionally, I have contributed to the NY Times Motherlode, NJ Family magazine and Ploughshares literary magazine. Good – great bio that shows why you’re the person to write the book.
I think the 2nd para and your bio is really solid, what you need to get polished is the first, book-specific one. Your second line is great, but it’s really just giving you the specifics that the first one provided the generalities for. Why don’t you aim for sharing what quality or trait each character represents instead, and use the 2nd line as your opening hook?