Query Roundup 9/7 + An Opportunity

It's 12:31 and all the queries are finished.

I only had 89 queries this week!

I requested 5 manuscripts. (This is a little atypical--more than usual especially for the amount of queries!)

A YA Time Travel Thriller with a really great hook in the first few sentences of the query and good writing
An adult mystery romance with GREAT voice.
YA urban fantasy with a solid query and a really great opening. Finaled in the Amazon breakthrough novel contest.
Adult loose fable retelling. Great opening pages.
Adult historical romance. Love the concept. Pages are very promising.

I regretfully passed on 2 manuscripts.

A speculative YA. The concept was really interesting, but I didn't connect to the voice in the pages.
YA sci fi thriller that would probably get lumped into dystopian. The writing was good, but it I don't think it will stand out. I invited the writer to send me their next project if this one doesn't get them an agent.

What kind of queries did I see?

I say that I'm "not grabbed" a lot, but what does that mean really. Well here's my breakdown of why I passed on queries this week.

Not grabbed by the concept: It's just not for me. If this was a book in a store, I just wouldn't be the typical reader. (passed on 18 queries)

Not grabbed by the characters: They just feel flat. Nothing about them makes me want to read more. (passed on 20 queries)

Not grabbed because I feel like I've read this before: This is the dead genre category. The vampires, werewolves, dystopians, and mermaids. If the story feels done before, I'm usually not grabbed. (passed on 9 queries)

Not grabbed because this concept just doesn't seem right for today's market: This the opposite of the dead genre category. These are the queries that I pass because I don't think the project could sell because I don't know who would buy this book. Sometimes these queries also show that the writer might not reader commercial fiction or know what's marketable. (passed on 10 queries)

I also passed on queries because:

The project sounds too "message heavy": 2

The writing isn't quite up to publishing standards: 2

I have no idea what this book is about: 10

This query is too confusing so I don't know what this book is about: 7

This is too long (over 200K words): 2

This is too similar to a client project: 2

Starting NOW until I sit down to do my queries next Friday, you can query me and instead of a form rejection I will tell you exactly why I'm passing.

This will not be a critique of your query. It will most likely be one or two lines, similar to what I've said in this post.

This will also not be an opportunity to engage me in a conversation about what you can do to make your query better. By participating in this, you're promising not to reply to the email and ask me more questions or even send thanks and praise. I'll be working hard to get my queries down to zero and more emails and replies will be counter productive.

All you have to do is follow the submission guidelines. Send the query and your pages to QUERY(at)newleafliterary(dot)com and put QUERY--SUZIE--I CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH in the subject line.

You may also like


Unknown said...

Er, awkward question: Will you tell us the truth even if we've just been rejected... in this current batch of 89?

Unknown said...

Sure. I don't remember what I had for lunch yesterday. I'm not going to remember what queries I read.

Eric Steinberg said...

Cool opportunity...if only my manuscript were ready. Maybe next time.

I'm wondering how you feel about strong MALE protagonists (YA sci fi boy book)...

Ashley K said...

Suzie gives great feedback, y'all. DEFINITELY take advantage of this opportunity! Her rejection of my full was the best rejection I've ever gotten :)

Stephanie Garber said...

Thanks so much doing this, Suzie! I've really appreciated the query updates you give in your blog posts, and this is even better! Thanks!

Stephsco said...

Wow, this is a cool opportunity. I haven't queried a single agent, I keep telling myself I'm working up to it. My MS is done (is it ever?) and I've had a bunch of readers. I don't know when I'll ever feel like I'm ready to go.

Let me think on this...

Katharina Gerlach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katharina Gerlach said...

If I have two projects finished, could I send two queries? Or would that disqualify me?

Authoress Anonymous said...

You rejected me a few months back but since then I've revised my query. Looking forward to those few sentences of helpful feed back!

Leslie S. Rose said...

Wow, what a great opportunity. I will be taking you up on it.

Reader said...

Newbie question (sorry):
- do you always read query + first 5 pages?
- or only just read query and MAYBE first few pages?

Just curious what you read and when you pull the plug on each (those fist five pages thus would be ultra important).

I'm no where near querying. I'm also uncertain that my type of book would not be of your interest because on your submission guidelines and recent sells. So hard to know really...but out of curiosity, do you consider lower end MG (I mean MG in the realm of 20-30,000 words, humorous...something in the realm of Roald Dahl, or David Walliams? ...obviously not them, because I am NOT a genuis...just trying to give a "kind of " idea.


Unknown said...

@Cat--Just one query per person.

@Reader--I stop reading when I've lost interest. (Most agents are probably the same). Some queries I don't get to the pages. Some queries, I don't even finish the query (this is why you should start with what's important). Sometimes I get to the pages and read a few lines and stop and know it's a pass. Sometimes I get to the pages, know within a few lines this is something I want to request and stop reading and just request it. Other times I read all the pages and then decide.

The pages are important, because I don't request a full manuscript without knowing I like the pages.

And unfortunately no, that type of middle grade probably isn't what I'm looking for. When you finish you're still welcome to query--the worst that can happen is that I can say not for me--but I tend to like literary middle grade and upper middle grade.

Jay Bendt said...

Will you also be posting your answers on here, Suzie? I will not be sending in an email (still years away from being able to do that!), but would love to see what the responses are to some of these.

P.S: I can't ever remember what I had for food the day before, either. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering what I had for breakfast that same day! Sometimes it makes me wonder if I have some serious memory issues.

Anonymous said...

May you be as happy at the end of this process as you have already made us, Suzie Townsend!

mary said...

Thank you for taking the time to do this.
I keep pushing you back, afraid to query you yet. But I'm going to go back over my query a few more hundred times and send it to you soon.

Lynn(e) Schmidt said...

Sent, and thanks. This is awesome!

Mart Ramirez said...

Thank you so much for the opportunity, Suzie! You gave some AWESOME feedback last time and I very much appreciate it.

Teagan Marie said...

I pity your what your query box will look like this week but I'm game :) Good luck everyone!!

Daniel Kenney said...


Continued thanks for doing the Query Roundup as a regular feature in your blog. It's a great way to learn.

Dag said...
This comment has been removed by the author.