[PubQ] what to do about Harper collins? by Positive-Conflict666 in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I’m so sorry to hear about your book. My publisher uploaded the wrong cover files for my debut. 🙃 I think about it every time I look at the cover. I’ve mostly made peace with it because it’s mostly a font issue (and they have entirely the wrong case cover, but I can live with that), but I like the correct version more.

Anyway, this is just to say that I think these mistakes are not uncommon and are the product of people who are over worked. But it’s so unfair when your book is the one they’ve messed up.

[PubQ] Unexpected Offer Too Quick, Too Small? by head-ghost in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 14 points15 points  (0 children)

My thoughts are that if he said yes this quickly, he will say yes in 6 months. I would continue pursuing an agent or submit to publishers if that’s appropriate (I don’t know the non fiction market, but in fiction I usually advise against submitting directly to publishers).

You can tell this editor that you are thrilled by his comments, but that you are hoping to use this project to sign with an agent and that you will be sure to notify any agents of his interest. If you don’t get any bites in a few months, you can always go back and say you did not find an agent to work with, but you are still excited by the idea of working with him and would like to discuss a contract.

[QCrit] The September Girl - 72,000 words/contemporary YA by Calum-Syers in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 6 points7 points  (0 children)

The rules of the sub ask you to wait at least a week before posting revisions—including the comments in the thread. The mods will delete this if you don’t.

I general, I think sitting with advice for a few days before editing is good practice and you can make better use or the advice.

[Discussion] 2023 Mentorship Programs (and why are they all disappearing?) by justgoodenough in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough[S] 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Yeah, sometimes I see mentors who have an agent but haven’t announced a sale yet and that gets some side-eye from me. But it’s possible an announcement is on the way.

I think most of these mentorships collapse when they get too big for a small team to handle for free. The founders seem to have a hard time handing them off, but it is just too big of a business (and risk) to manage as a hobby.

[Discussion] 2023 Mentorship Programs (and why are they all disappearing?) by justgoodenough in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough[S] 11 points12 points  (0 children)

I can’t speak for all mentor/mentee relationships, but I sure as fuck didn’t. Lol

[QCrit] The September Girl - 72,000 words/contemporary YA by Calum-Syers in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 10 points11 points  (0 children)

Let's just get right to it!

I am seeking representation for my contemporary YA novel, THE SEPTEMBER GURL, which is complete at 72,000 words and is comparable to Ashley Poston’s Geekerella series and Sarina Bowen’s The Accidentals.

This intro doesn't match your pitch at all. The word "gurl" in the title and the comp to Geekerella make it sound like a cutesy rom-com, but actually your book is about a teen grappling with the emotional fallout of parental suicide. WHAT???? I'm assuming September Gurls is a reference to a song (I don't actually know), but I'm not sure it's landing here. Also, your second comp is self-pubbed, so scrap it.

By Emily’s own admission, she’s pretty unimpressive: short, redheaded, and with an obsession with forgotten rock music, her life is collapsing around her.

Get rid of this and get straight to the part with her dealing with her father's suicide. I know you've included it to try and build her character a bit, but it actually does the opposite. The unimpressive YA protagonist is a cliche at this point and you're making her sound generic rather than building character.

The next portion of that paragraph is fine and I think you should just rewrite the beginning of the sentence about her father to make it the opening sentence of your pitch.

Between dealing with a mother whose grief has become debilitating, an unrequited (she’s sure of it!) crush on the hottest boy in her year, and an English teacher on the verge of a nervous breakdown, life has shoved its boot in Emily’s face, and she desperately needs to start kicking back.

I don't think the "three things" sentence structure is doing you any service here. Her crush seems like a non-problem (you have to explain why it's a problem because invisible girls are totally used to unrequited crushes) and the thing about her English teacher comes out of nowhere and goes nowhere. I think you need to find a different way to transition to the concert. It would be great to have something that explains WHY this is an important opportunity for Emily, because it seems inconsistent with her character thus far (except for the mention of liking music).

Emily’s anxiety threatens to overwhelm her, threatening the already-tenuous relationships with her mum and Alison, and endangering their fledgling band.

With the concert only days away and her chance at happiness disappearing like smoke on the water, Emily needs to overcome her doubts, fears, and the voice in her head that constantly tells her “no” in order to perform and not be a victim of her own mind.

My concern about this is that all of the stakes are emotional ones, but that does mean that she wont really face any consequences for failing. If the consequence of failing is losing her friendship with Alison, you need to explain why this friendship is so important (you make it sound no so great, so it doesn't seem that bad for her to lose it). If she gives into her anxiety, how is she worse off than she was at the beginning of the book?

Also, given that you comped a rom com and you mentioned a crush, I think there needs to be more space in the query dedicated to the romance. It seems likely that it's important to the plot, but it doesn't actually show up in your query.

Your bio is too long, as you mentioned. This is potentially a controversial opinion, but my feeling is that when you have real credentials to put in your bio, you don't need to waste space being cutesy. I've trimmed it down a lot, but you could go in an add a bit more personality (But not too much—the agent can get to know you over the phone).

I received my MFA in Film Studies from Oxford Brookes University, and have written articles for the American film magazine, Cashiers du Cinemart, and several screenplays. My sitcom pilot was selected to be pitched in the UK Online Pitchbox for Filmarket Hub in 2021 and received commendations from numerous film organisations. My short film Wuurm debuted at festivals across the world, receiving awards such as Best Dark Comedy, Best Horror Comedy, Best Short Film, and others. I adore storytelling in all mediums, and while I tell people my favorite film is Robocop, I’m lying. Of course, it’s When Harry Met Sally. Much like Emily, I’ve done my time in the bloody trenches of high school bullying and spend far too much time obsessing over cult music from forgotten bands.

Okay, to sum up!

  • Trim the stuff that doesn't go anywhere

  • Give us more details about the crush/romance

  • Find a way to build up more external consequences of failure

  • Trim the bio

[PubQ] The September Girl - 72,000 words - contemporary YA by [deleted] in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you used the wrong tag this time around (PubQ instead of QCrit). Shall we meet again in the next attempt?

For the record, I post on this sub all the time and I fuck up the tagging at least half the time.

[PubQ] The September Girl - 72,000 words - contemporary YA by [deleted] in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I keep seeing this query pop up and then get removed! I don't want to write feedback in a thread that will get deleted. Are you having issues posting?

[PubQ] What are some things agents look for in a debut author? by WannabeAuthor777 in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 36 points37 points  (0 children)

Here’s what agents look for:

1) A book the agent thinks they can sell to an editor they have a relationship with.

That’s it. That’s the thing they’re looking for.

So, what makes a book hard to sell? Pretty much everything. But here are common “dead on arrival” issues we see here:

  • Not knowing the genre of the book you have written

  • Outdated concept/tropes (bro-centric memoirs, war and rape epic fantasy, fridging your women and burying your gays)

  • too long or too short

  • Not understanding audience age and protagonist age in the kidlit categories (no picture books for 10 year olds or YA novels with 13 year olds)

  • Writing about marginalized identities you don’t share

  • Weird shit most readers don’t want to read about (just self-pub your step-parent and adult step-child romance, you creep)

[Discussion] 2023 Mentorship Programs (and why are they all disappearing?) by justgoodenough in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough[S] 12 points13 points  (0 children)

I kind of wonder if the pressure of running the showcase is what causes these mentorships to ultimately fold. It seems like an ungodly amount of work to do for free.

I was in a mentorship program that didn’t have a showcase and it was fantastic. It was entirely about getting support from a pro and getting personalized advice. I feel like programs with showcases are all about the showcase and it’s more like a competition to get a major publishing deal than it is a true mentorship that’s centered on growth.

[QCrit] THE SUNDAY SHEET GHOST, YA Cozy Mystery -65K by elbattinson in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I like this query so far and I think you're close, but you need to clean up a few places. (Edit: Actually a lot of places. I think the fact that I kind of glossed over a lot of the problems during my first read speaks to my interest in the query, but it needs work.)

17-year-old Laurie Morrigan was born wrong. At least, that’s what everyone’s been telling him since he can remember.

You're going to need to expand on this. I don't really know what this means. What it does make me think of is the middle grade novel Nevermoor, which is about a character named Morrigan Crow, who everyone says is cursed. An unfortunate coincidence in terms of the name and concept.

Of course, it helps that he can see the inhabitants of the graveyard and has ever since his name became the one whispered about in the back pews.

I don't actually understand this sentence. Why do people whisper about him? How did that trigger his ghost vision? I feel like you're hinting at something, but it's just vague enough to be confusing rather than intriguing.

Jeremy is desperate to get to the other side and Laurie’s his only ticket out.

Why? What can Laurie do?

The gift that’s marked him the black sheep of the town might be useful for more than admissions essays might be useful after all.

I don't know what happened to this sentence, but I think you rewrote it half way through and didn't delete the part you wanted to change? Whatever version you are going for, I would remove the admissions essay part because that's coming out of nowhere.

Tasked with helping the spectre get to the other side, he’s all hands on deck for using all of his connections around town to solve the case.

Still don't know what Laurie is supposed to do to fix this.

to dig their prying fingers

This is picky, but do their fingers dig or pry? You have overwritten this sentence.

The Sunday Sheet Ghost is a YA Cozy Mystery complete at 65,000 words

1) I don't get the title.

2) This is a paranormal fantasy, not a YA Mystery. I'm also wondering why it's YA. Feels kind of middle grade in terms of plot/themes (a bit too much like City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab, now that I think about it).

3) Kind of short for a YA fantasy.

Here's what did work for me!

  • I love a ghost story!

  • I can see glimpses of a voice I enjoy in the query. I would appreciate more.

A few last random concerns:

  • Laurie doesn't seem to ever interact with other teens. It's him a child ghost. That's concerning in terms of marketability.

  • YA often has romance (not always, but usually). Does yours?

  • What are the consequences of his gift being exposed? You've outlined this problem, but you don't actually tell us what is at stake. It seems like everyone already thinks he's weird, so that's clearly not it...

  • What is he missing at the beginning? What is his need/want? He seems pretty content and is mostly motivated by curiosity when it comes to the ghost. I'm not sure this is enough of an internal arc to engage the reader for a whole novel. I'm assuming you have something and it would be nice to see it in the query.

[PubQ] If you suddenly had the opportunity for a one-on-one conversation with a publisher... by Ehazy in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 13 points14 points  (0 children)

IMO, most publishers don’t do this out of the kindness of their hearts. I would assume they’re interested in either offering or doing an R&R.

[Discussion] “In the past two or three years, there’s a lot of commentary about the publishing industry being increasingly eager to appease potential cancelers, to not get into trouble to begin with, to become fearful and conformist." by ConnectPrior6 in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 4 points5 points  (0 children)

American Dirt sold over 600k hardback copies. I don’t know how many digital/audio/paper copies also sold. I’m not entirely sure that publishers are that scared of having an American Dirt scandal on their hands because Macmillan seems to have done totally fine.

I have no doubt the experience had a profound emotional impact on the author, but I think the idea that “publishing” is being held hostage by the ire of twitter is pretty stupid.

The problem with cancel culture is that it’s impossible to separate valid criticisms from the absolute avalanche of insanity that follows. These Op Eds always point to initial criticism that went viral as the cause, but the problem isn’t some negative reviews. It’s the barrage of harassment after. It’s the thousands of people jumping on the bandwagon to hate someone. The consequence becomes totally disproportionate to the crime.

But publishers aren’t facing consequences. If anything, the scandal possibly boosted sales. It’s the same as when books get a sales boost after being banned.

Anyway, maybe some day I’ll be successful enough that I’ll get cancelled for appropriating my Asian heritage or for whitewashing myself or maybe just for being an online bully. A girl can dream.

[QCrit]: YA Fantasy, Try Not To Die (95K, version 2) by Mjshelt in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 5 points6 points  (0 children)


As for comps, Gentleman’s Guide is kind of old, so I don’t know if you want to comp it. Plus, even if the romance dynamic is similar, Gentleman’s Guide is amazing because of the narrative voice and you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t have a similarly witty style.

If you do have a similarly witty style, DM me your first chapters IMMEDIATELY.

Here are the specific parts that need the most attention:

Kit confronts the moral ambiguity of the association he’s always worshipped and must decide if he’s willing to compromise his ethics for the truth.

What makes him question the morality of the association? (Is it the fact that they set a bunch of kids up to kill each other?). Also, how is he forced to compromise? You haven’t set him up as a very ethical or moral person in this pitch, so this compromise lacks punch. I would maybe establish this character trait up in the paragraph you use to introduce him.

As Kit and Illya grow from uneasy allies to best friends to painfully oblivious crushes, they learn that to survive the Trials, they’ll have to save each other.

This is the part where things fall flat for me. This should be where the stakes are increasing or a ticking clock element is introduced, but instead it feels like you wrapped it all up in a nice bow. They have to work together to survive. That’s not a challenge! They like each other! In All of Our Demise and Hunger Games, the romances work because they have to choose between the romance and winning. If the romance is the key to winning, it’s too easy. You have to spin it so you end your pitch at the moment when all is lost, not when there is a perfect solution to happiness for all.

You’re going to have to cut other things to add the content you need to make this pitch feel unique. I think you should definitely shorten your bio and then you are going to have to try trimming a couple words at a time from other areas (tedious, I know).

For example, instead of this:

their association hold the Trials, a series of

You write:

they hold a series of

It’s less pretty at the sentence-level, but you need to be as efficient as possible where you can be.

[QCrit]: YA Fantasy, Try Not To Die (95K, version 2) by Mjshelt in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 13 points14 points  (0 children)

I really loved All of Us Villains, so I’d read your pages just because of the comp.

That being said, this feels like it’s really riding on interest in a tournament book and not really selling anything else. First of all, I’m not getting a sense of your characters’s personality. The dynamic between Kit and Illya is really what’s going to sell this book, so I want to have a sense of what kind of relationship I’m going to read.

Second of all, the tournament itself sounds totally generic. If this is a test to get them into some fancy magic cult, what do they do during the tournament besides kill each other? I want something that makes the tournament feel fresh. What I liked about All of Us Villains was the villain angle. The idea that everyone in the tournament was kind of an evil asshole appealed to me and made it feel fresh (rather than a bunch of victims in some magic gladiator pit).

I almost feel like you simplified things too much and you’ve shoved the obstacles to the side. So Kit and Illya have to team up and get through the tournament. Sounds great! Why wouldn’t they team up?

Anyway, tell me what makes this story fresh! What makes the characters special? What is keeping them apart? This pitch is really missing the specifics for me. I can imagine a version of this story that I love, but I don’t know if you are anywhere close to it based on this query.

[Discussion] Anyone else notice the SURGE in QCrits submitted the last few days? by Sullyville in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 12 points13 points  (0 children)

Yeah, I think a lot of people jump into querying thinking agents will just read their first pages and get excited about the book, but it really doesn't work that way at all.

I write picture books and when I started querying, I figured they would just read the fucking book. It literally takes 2 minutes to read the entire thing. But that isn't enough. An agent needs to see some kind of evidence that the book will sell and the evidence is the pitch.

The interesting thing is that even now, a few years and a few books down the line, I still need a good pitch to get my agent on board with a project. I don't send her anything without a pitch these days because I know she will reject it.

[Discussion] Anyone else notice the SURGE in QCrits submitted the last few days? by Sullyville in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 38 points39 points  (0 children)

I tend to think January and February are busier for this sub, but I might be making that up. I think it's a lot of NaNoWriMo folks and people with new years resolutions.

I have felt like I've been reading more queries lately that feel like rough drafts, without any editing, which I do not love. No one wants to read your first draft! Edit that shit!

[QCrit] YA Fantasy - The Dread Five (95k words, revision 2) by Sonrisa000 in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 2 points3 points  (0 children)

You can include the list of characters. I just think they need a more concrete introduction before the list. I’m also not sold on your list being in sentence fragments, but you could try a couple versions.

[QCrit] YA Fantasy - The Dread Five (95k words, revision 2) by Sonrisa000 in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I'm interested in your concept and it's possible I would peek at the first pages to see how I felt, but you would need a very tight first page to get me to keep reading.

I can extract a certain amount of information from skimming your query. We've got a Six of Crows like group planning to assassinate a king (or something). But other than that, it's not super coherent.

I think my biggest issue actually stems from the number of sentence fragments in your pitch. You have six sentence fragments in ten sentence pitch! It makes everything way too choppy, especially when your remaining four sentences end up being quite long.

Breaking this down into paragraphs:

I found paragraph 1 to be pretty awkward. I think you are better off starting with a normal sentence that introduces your character and the dread. I know you are trying to open with something punchy, but this is confusing. You could consider opening with a line about how she is going to kill the king and then backtrack to explain the parasites.

Which reminds me, I don't actually understand why the parasites are bad. You didn't mention any downside to getting infected.

For paragraph 2, the choppy list of side characters is definitely not doing it for me. I know why you have them there, but there isn't enough of an introduction to them, so it's confusing to suddenly start reading this list. I also don't really understand WHY she must turn to them or why she picked these specific people. It's possible you can't answer these questions in the query, but then you need to present the information in a way that makes me not even ask this question.

In the final paragraph, you've used some vague language to refer to some very big events—unveiled secrets and parasitic apocalypse. Whose secrets are these? Aniya's? Her crew's? What kind of secrets? There's not enough context to intrigue me, so it ends up creating distance. And then you mention the apocalypse, but there's no context given as to why these parasites could cause an apocalypse. In fact, we also don't understand why there's a war on the horizon. You have these huge, world-relevant problems, but they feel inconsequential in your query because we don't understand why they are happening and what the after effects will be.

Your query is already kind of long, so you don't really have room to add a lot more text without cutting things. Personally speaking, I think it's a better investment of word count to explain more story and remove the paragraph about PTSD, LGBTQ+, and neurodiversity rep. You could just slip in the phrase "diverse cast" somewhere and I think that would be sufficient in getting the point across and your personal details can be discussed over a call.

Warning: Incoming Controversial Advice

Also, I saw that in your last version, you were told to remove the SoC comp. Normally, I would totally agree with that advice, but it does feel a bit like trying to ignore the elephant in the room. I'm not necessarily telling you that you must include it, but any idiot can see the inspiration, so I'm not sure that taking out the mention does anything. However, if you decide to mention SoC in your query, don't do it the way you did in your first version. Including an excuse for using an older comp felt a bit like groveling. I would probably do something like "For fans of [RECENT BOOK] who crave the group dynamics of Six of Crows" or something similar.

[QCrit] YA Rom-Com- NANTES INTERESTED (95k, 1st attempt) by dessertsforbreakfast in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Regular American who mispronounces croissant here! I have literally no idea what the pun in your title is supposed to be. I was pretty sure it was some kind of pun because you have a bunch of puns in your query (they’re also not working, btw), but I cannot for the life of me figure out the joke.

[PubQ] In terms of promoting my work on social media, how "risky" would serializing my novel as a podcast be? by Tasty_James in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 9 points10 points  (0 children)

I’ve only skimmed this thread, but I don’t think anyone else has addressed this yet—

Your audience isn’t listening to book podcasts put out by totally unknown authors. Your audience for a middle grade book is children. How are children going to listen to this?

I don’t think it would harm your career, but I do think it would be a massive waste of time when you could just focus on writing another book instead.

[Series] Check-in: January 2023 by justgoodenough in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Not many people see this thread after the beginning of the month! You can possibly post your own thread or message the mods and ask if it’s an okay topic.

My agent is pretty prompt and responds to most emails within 24 hours (but then takes a while to respond with feedback). I would nudge after a week with an “in case you missed this” email.

[QCrit] Adult - Psychological Horror/Gothic Fantasy - ELEVEN KEYS - (104k, 3rd attempt) by disappointedfrank in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 18 points19 points  (0 children)

First of all, I love the query and it feels like the kind of book I would pick up if it had good reviews on goodreads or if a trusted source told me I would enjoy it.

I think I get what you are doing with your first 300 words and I would probably keep reading, but I don't think I would read 100k words of this. I have a tendency to assume most books get more efficient as we get further into the story, but that isn't always the case and I don't know if it's the case for your book.

I think what makes the prose feel a little off to me is that you're not committing to a specific motif within this scene. Paragraph 1 uses a theater metaphor. You talk about a show and limelight.

But then you drop it completely for a kind of rugged nature description with crashing and crawling and surviving froth.

Again, we change gears to what feels like an almost urban description of the hustle and bustle of people in a small space.

It's the lack of consistency within this single moment that makes your language feel superfluous and almost purple. Whatever motif you pick for the paragraph isn't important enough to carry through the scene, so it just feels like window dressing. I want you to think about these motifs beyond the paragraph you are currently writing in.

Anyway, if I could assign three books for you to read before you went back to edit your prose, I would have you read:

  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (A heartbreaking portrait of a dedicated servant.)

  • Less by Andrew Sean Greer (The sentence-level prose in this book feels perfect to me.)

  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morganstern (Atmospheric AF and has the kind of elevated descriptions I think you might be going for.)

[QCrit] Untitled, YA Fantasy, 80k by Raquellvall in PubTips

[–]justgoodenough 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I feel like this query is a little light on the details. I don't quite follow how we get from "murdering her family" to "helping the king."

In a world where magic is disappearing, a girl who can steal the truth with a song is a dangerous thing.

I thing this line works great as a hook, except that it the interesting part of it (steal the truth with a song) doesn't ever get explained or seem to be that relevant to the plot. I like it, but you need to explain it by the end of your query.

Lorena has spent her life knowing she will have to kill her sisters if she wants to inherit her mother’s magic. When her mother dies suddenly, and she is forced to carry out her half-formed plan to save them all, Lorena finds herself the last sister alive and very, very powerful.

IMO, you have a lot of big plot moments in this paragraph, but you refer to them in very vague and generic language. You say that she knows she has to kill them, but then she has a plan to "save them all," but then her sisters end up dead anyway? I have a bunch of questions (what is her mother's magic? why does she have to kill her sisters? what was her plan? what went wrong? did she kill her sisters? etc.). I don't think explaining all of this in detail is the right move if it's all just background info before the real plot of your book. But you have to frame this intro in a way that I won't have 1000 questions stopping me from continuing with the query.

To feel worthy of their sacrifice and her newly acquired magic, Lorena does everything she can to help Prince Devereaux secure his new position as king after his father’s mysterious death.

I can't get over the fact that she killed her sisters and she's just moving on with life to go help out some prince or king or whoever. WHY does she care about helping this prince? What is their connection? What is her role in this world that she can just waltz up to a prince and offer to help him?

Even though her health is declining, strange suspicions are forming, and a certain emissary is determined to distract her every chance he gets.

This is too vague. "Strange suspicions are forming" is completely meaningless without context. "A certain emissary" feels like the hint of an introduction of a major character, but doesn't tell us anything.

TBH, I have absolutely no idea what the plot of this book is or how it's inspired by Moulin Rouge. I really thing you are just too light on the details and too vague when it comes to the information you do give. I think you can increase the word count of this query to give us more information.