#7 Query Corner: ‘Phoenix Falling’

Welcome to:

logo5

Morgan’s Query Corner:

Answering Your Query Quandaries

NOTE: If you submit your query to me (morgan.s.hazelwood@gmail.com), and you are selected for inclusion, I will give you a high-level review, in-line feedback, and my own draft of your query. If this is your query, feel free to use or ignore as much of the advice and suggestions as you wish.

[Disclaimer: Any query selected for the page will be posted on this website for perpetuity. I am an amateur with no actual accepted queries and a good number of form rejections. This does not guarantee an agent or even an amazing query, just a new take by someone who’s read The Query Shark archives twice and enjoys playing with queries.]

 

“PHOENIX FALLING” is a YA contemporary romance featuring an Internet Famous fashion influencing teen returning to her hometown and a student-photographer who despises social-media.

Overall Impression:

Solid query.  Spot on novel length for YA Contemp and timely themes!

The only things I would change are:

  • The language feels a little formal or stiff at times. I know this is a business letter, but you want to use a little voice in your query, to set the tone of the book.
  • Are you sure this is YA? The character seems maybe a little older? If she’s under 20, list that. If not, this might be a good fit for New Adult?
  • The bully isn’t mentioned again. Same with the crush. Unless either of them has something to do with the compromising pics (and I’d imagine it’s someone back in London?), I’d delete that.

Fun fact: mixed-media novels are often called ‘epistolary novels’. If you want, you can call it that in your stats paragraph. And I’d recommend searching mswl.com for “epistolary” because some agents explicitly are looking for them.


The Original:

[my comments are in blue/italics/brackets]
Dear Agent, 

I am seeking representation for PHOENIX FALLING, a YA contemporary romance at 80,000 words. I thought you may enjoy it because _______________________. [I often put this paragraph at the end, with the comps and break out the bio paragraph. Some agents have a stated preference, but otherwise, it’s your call.]

When Phoenix, a former nerd turned Instafamous fashion influencer, leaves London for her hometown in Colorado, she’s ready to show everyone how much she’s changed, especially her middle-school bully. [How old is she? YA typically has teen main characters.] She’s ready to see if her new fame is enough to capture the interest of her old crush. She’s ready to reach her goal of 250,000 followers.[a little repetitive… maybe a stronger verb?] But she’s not ready to share the reason she left London in the first place.[Oh! Now I see the pattern! :-)]

Damien hates social media and everything Phoenix represents [Whoops! I wasn’t paying attention to your main character’s name and thought he hated the city of phoenix! And was maybe moving to CO for a change…]. He’d rather spend his time studying constellations and developing film, but he agrees to take Phoenix’s pictures to earn money for college. He never imagined his focus would shift from capturing Phoenix’s image to capturing Phoenix’s heart. Unless Damien can convince Phoenix to trust him, perhaps even with her shameful secret, he’ll lose his income and any chance at a connection with her. [The last 2 sentences seem a little stilted and cliche. I think we can do better.]

When someone posts compromising photos of Phoenix online, both her reputation and her burgeoning relationship with Damien are threatened. Phoenix races to undo the damage before she loses everything: her lifesavings, her followers, even the people she loves the most. If Phoenix and Damien cannot put the pieces back together, they may be left paying the true price of fame. [This seems a little disjointed. I wanna rearrange it.]

PHOENIX FALLING is a mixed-media novel that includes texts, Instagram posts, emails, newspaper articles, maps, etc. It would appeal to fans of When Dimple Met Rishi and Donna Cooner’s novels. I currently live in California with my family. When I’m not reading, writing, or wrangling three children, you may[very formal] find me mapping out my next trip.

Per your submission guidelines, I have included ____________. [not needed] Thank you for your time and consideration.

FIRST LASTNAME


The Revised Query:

Dear [Agent Name],

When nineteen(?)-year-old Phoenix leaves London for her hometown in Colorado, she’s ready to impress everyone as the Instafamous fashion influencer she becomes, rather than the nerd they all remember. She’s ready to see if her new fame is enough to dazzle her old crush. She’s ready to reach her goal of 250,000 followers. The one thing Phoenix isn’t ready for? Sharing the shameful reason she left London in the first place.

Damien hates social media and everything Phoenix represents, but the photographer can’t turn down her job offer that could pay for his college. As Damien spends more time with Phoenix, his focus begins to shift from capturing her image to capturing her heart.

When compromising photos of Phoenix surface online, both her reputation and her burgeoning relationship with Damien are threatened. Phoenix races to undo the damage before she loses everything: her life savings, her followers, and the respect of the people she loves the most. If Phoenix doesn’t open up and share the truth about what happened to her in London, she’s going to lose Damien–both as the photographer that could make her scandal blow over and as the man who almost loved her, despite her fame.

PHOENIX FALLING is a YA contemporary romance, complete at 80,000 words. I thought you may enjoy it because _______________________. This modern epistolary is told using texts, Instagram posts, emails, and newspaper articles, and should appeal to fans of When Dimple Met Rishi and the Donna Cooner’s novels.

I write from my home in California. When I’m not reading, writing, or wrangling three children, you can find me mapping out my next trip.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 
Sincerely,
Q7
 
[email]
[Twitter]
[phone]

 

With some back and forth, the queryist let me know the story takes place senior year, is more narrative than epistolary, and that the bully and crush are both involved in the compromising pictures. This was Q7’s revision with my suggestions.

 

Dear ———,

When seventeen-year-old Phoenix leaves London for her hometown in Colorado, she’s ready to impress everyone as the Instafamous fashion influencer she’s become, rather than the nerd they all remember. With her newfound fame, everyone from her middle-school tormentor to her old crush will finally notice her. Her return will be glorious, as long as no one finds out the real reason she left London.

Damien hates social media and everything Phoenix represents. He’d rather spend his time studying constellations and developing film, but he agrees to take Phoenix’s pictures to earn money for college. As Damien spends more time with Phoenix, his focus begins to shift from capturing her image to capturing her heart. Unless Damien can convince Phoenix to trust him, he’ll lose his income and any chance at a connection with her.

When someone posts a video of Phoenix criticizing a popular product, her sponsors start canceling their contracts. With Damien by her side, Phoenix races to undo the damage. If she can’t maintain her standing in the fashion world, Phoenix could lose everything: her life savings, her followers, and even her best friend.

PHOENIX FALLING is a YA contemporary romance, complete at 80,000 words. This mixed-media novel includes texts, Instagram posts, emails, newspaper articles, and maps. It should appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park and Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi.

I currently live in California with my family. When I’m not reading, writing, or wrangling three children, you can find me mapping out my next trip.

 
Thank you for your time and consideration.
 
Sincerely,
Q7
 
[email]
[Twitter]
[phone]

As always with editing suggestions, remember that we’re just pointing out spots where things aren’t working. You don’t have to follow our suggestions, but you should consider fixing it your own way. I think Q7 did a great job of taking my feedback and making it their own.

Best of luck to Q7!


And for the rest of you out there?
Best of luck in the query trenches!

 

Advertisements

One thought on “#7 Query Corner: ‘Phoenix Falling’

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s