Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Face-Lift 289

Guess the Plot

Eat, Drink and Be Married

1. Felicia Jordan's matchmaking service for plus-sized people has been hugely successful. But her clients are dying even faster than their doctors expected—and hunky Detective Logan Price, investigating the case, fears that Felicia will be next.

2. After one too many bar fights, an alcoholic lesbian slut falls in love, becomes a parent, and lives happily ever after.

3. After sampling the Faerie feast together, Willie Van Winkle wakes up before his brother Rip, and knocks up his daughter. Can he find the feast table and get back to sleep before Rip wakes up and makes them marry?

4. Sam met Myrna at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. When she showed up again at AA the following week, he found himself taking a second look. Will the stresses of dieting and going cold turkey be too much for the two lovebirds, or will the next twelve steps they take lead to the altar?

5. Patricia, single and her biological clock ticking like a suicide bomber's watch, begins to dabble in love potions. When she accidentally discovers the secret ingredient by spilling her potion into the pomegranate punch at the PTA's dinner-dance, hilarity ensues.

6. Feverish and lost in the Forest of Doom, Jack Harper is saved by a stranger. Little does he know that eating a half-rotten apple and drinking from a leaky bowl completes the local marriage ritual. One sip later, he is married to a being known as the Crazy Zombie Granny With A Bouncy Afro.

Original Version

Dear Mr. or Ms. Agent Person,

What happens when a self-absorbed, self-destructive, young lesbian-about-town with a few addictions on the side inadvertently finds herself in the middle of a perfectly normal, healthy, and happy relationship? [Her fascinating, riveting story morphs into syrupy tripe?] "Eat, Drink and Be Married" is the story of living happily ever after when you weren't sure you were even going to live to be 30.

I recently read "I'm Too Sexy for My Volvo." Great book! It's full of laughable moments. [While "laughable" can mean what you want it to, it more commonly means "inviting ridicule." Definitely not what you want to say here.] Broken for You was also superb. Your appreciation for quirky new voices and true-life comedic-drama memoirs is clear, and you are exactly the kind of agent I am hoping to be represented by. [Don't forget to change the titles of the superb books you recently read when you send this to the other agents on your list.] [Better yet, talk about your book, instead of other authors'.]

"Eat, Drink and Be Married" is a 95,000 word completed memoir that details the hard work involved in not screwing up a good thing. The book is a chronicle of two women who have no business being in the same zip code, much less in love. But the power of the old adage "opposites attract" is alive and strong, [Changing "alive and well" to "alive and strong" doesn't make it less cliché; it makes it look like you got the cliché wrong.] and plays out with equal parts comedy and dramedy [If dramedy is a mix of drama and comedy, it would take a complex mathematical formula to prove a book is equal parts comedy and dramedy. Fortunately, we have Einstein's theory of general genretivity: G = dc2] as the protagonist goes from bar fights and setting the land-speed record for being a complete slut [Slut records are kept in the quantity department, not in speed.] to getting sober, falling in love and, eventually, becoming a parent. Luckily, she doesn't loose [Lose. Loose is what she was when she was a slut.] her edge, her anger, or her internal hysteria along the way.

There is a solid market for good memoirs with a defined niche [No need to tell the agent her business.]­ especially when they offer an irreverent and unique voice on the mundane aspects of real life, love, and survival. This book is ideal for an audience of female readers ages 25-50, both gay and straight, and, of course, for guys who think "lesbian" is code for Girl-on-Girl Action. [That's your "defined niche"? All women under 50 and most men?] [Presumably you're sending this query to agents who handle lesbian books. I find it hard to believe any such agents would want to hear that the book is ideal for guys who think "lesbian" is code for Girl-on-Girl Action. Guys interested in girl-on-girl action don't buy books; they subscribe to lesbian porn sites . . . . or, uh, so I've been told.]

I also have a platform to bring to the marketing table. I was a regular commentator for San Diego's UPDATE,, and from 1997 to 2002 and the co-author of the best-selling game LTrivia. [This sounds more like credits than a platform. Unless you explain how this will lead to big sales.]

I hope you enjoy the pages I have included. Please let me know if you would like to see the complete manuscript. Once again, I would love to work with you and hope you'll decide to represent my book.

All the best,


Do these characters have names? How do they meet? Do they get married, as the title suggests? Can you provide more than one sentence of plot detail? We want to know what happens, not just what the characters are like. Give us their names and tell us the story.

Is it an actual memoir, as opposed to fiction in the form of a memoir? Is there really a solid market for memoirs of unknowns? Because converting a memoir into a novel would be an interesting exercise, and could improve your chances.

Given that opposites supposedly attract, I'm not sure why radically different people would have no business in the same zip code.

Adjectives like "unique" and "ideal" are best left to publicists who describe your book on the back cover, usually without having read it. Authors should stick to the facts.


Anonymous said...

Don't try to sell this so much - it's too obvious - and from what I understand it only annoys the agent. Definitely not what you're after.

Explain the plot (a lot more needed here) and let it sell itself.

Anonymous said...

Well, the formula for equal parts comedy and dramady would be:


so D= 2/3C, or the book is 33% drama and 67% comedy.

Anonymous said...

That was all narcissic hype and no substance. Ever notice how a movie trailer in which none of the jokes are funny is death to box office because it proves the film fails as comedy? Same principle applies to queries and books. According to your "niche" boundaries I should be racing to buy this, but all of the guess plots were funnier than you and would be 10x more likely to get my actual $$ in the bookstore.

Evil Editor said...

Well, the formula for equal parts comedy and dramady would be:


so D= 2/3C, or the book is 33% drama and 67% comedy.

No, no, you're assuming that all dramedy is 50% drama and 50% comedy. To truly determine the comedy portion we need to know the makeup of the dramedy portion of the book. Also whether the author is counting the comedic portions of the dramedy twice, i.e. as both the comedy and as a portion of the dramedy. I'm not sure of the formula, but I think it involves the square root of pi.

Robin S. said...

I was never good in math at school. Expecially word problems.
God, I have a headache now.

Anonymous said...

I'm a young bisexual woman, I'm pretty close to what your market should be. I wouldn't buy it. I read the back, if it appeals to me maybe the first couple pages. Unless the back had some really good hook you haven't thought of, or some friend pressed me to read it because they said the writing was good. I don't know enough about your character to connect to her. For me, at least, that's what sells a memoir, real or fictional, a deep connection to the character. Consider that when you rewrite.

In the mean time, somebody write number one! I love it.

Rei said...

What happens when a self-absorbed, self-destructive, young lesbian-about-town with a few addictions on the side inadvertently finds herself in the middle of a perfectly normal, healthy, and happy relationship? [Her fascinating, riveting story morphs into syrupy tripe?]

Thanks a lot, EE. You made me laugh out loud at work.

Author: After getting through your query, I discovered that this novel is *not* like this intro made me think. Unless these two are Massachusetts residents or not American, they can't get married. Which made me think that you were doing a "lesbian finds the error of her ways and becomes straight" story. Your intro ticked me off to no end because of this. "... finds herself in the middle of a perfectly normal, healthy, and happy relationship". You pushed me straight into self-righteous-dyke rant mode. Oh, so I'm *not* happy with my partner? So, I'm not a *normal* person? Oh, so, two women being in a relationship is *unhealthy* (funny, given that we have lower STD transmission rates than straights)? Gee, thanks -- why don't you insult my mother while you're at it?

After getting through your query (which I agree with others -- it comes across as narcissistic), it seems that this isn't the case. There's only one line to suggest that this isn't the case, mind you -- "The book is a chronicle of two women who have no business being in the same zip code, much less in love." Of course, I have to get to the third paragraph before I get to that line.

Oh, and in case you ever forget the usage of "lose" and "loose" again (my biggest spelling pet peeve), check out the website

"You lose your job when you get fired for making silly mistakes.
You don't loose your job unless you release it from a cage.

You let your belt loose after Thanksgiving dinner.
You let your belt lose when it races with your tie."

(another way to think about it, as far as pronunciations go: lose <-> whose; loose <-> goose)

pacatrue said...

As a straight guy, I would like to say that it is possible for us to read a novel with lesbian protagonists that isn't simply because girl on girl action is a turn-on. I've only read a handful of romances in my life, I must admit, but probably my favorite is by Karin Kallmaker, a lesbian romance author and someone who could be a model for all romance authors. While there were 2-3 love scenes in the book I read that were very sexy, I also desparately wanted the two protagonists to fall in love because I thought they belonged together. I.e., I read it just like any other romance reader, only I didn't have to wade through some boring alpha male to enjoy it. The point is just that straight guys who read a lesbian romance read them for the same complex set of reasons that many women read male / male romance.

All that said, my understanding is that the lesbian romance market is, perhaps unfortunately, mostly lesbian and bisexual women, so make sure your query makes it clear how you know this market and can sell to them. Your credits indicate to me that you do and can. You and your agent can later figure out if you can expand beyond the core market.

By the way, does anyone know if my guess is correct about the market for lesbian genre fic? I know that lots of women read and buy m/m romance, such that that group might be bigger than actual gay men, but I don't get the impression that they read lesbian stuff to the same degree at all and that EE is right that most men who want girl/girl action are staring at pics, not reading novels. I think I'm an exception for knowing who Karin Kallmaker is and appreciating her as a writer.

Stacia said...

Paca, the Smart Bitches just dd a post last week about how women buy m/m or m/f/m but not f/f or f/f/m. Shame, really. I think f/f scenes are hot...but apparently I'm in the minority of straight women who do.

Blogless Troll said...

I get the drinking and getting married, but what's with eating? Is she obese, or is that part of her sex addiction? And if it is, shouldn't it be drink first, then eat and get married?

Anonymous said...

Is a "dramedy" a camel who's had his second hump removed?

Based on "dramedy" and the misusage of laughable, I hope you're going to find an editorial reader for your partial before you send it anywhere. When in doubt, look it up.

word ver is "gqwmddbf"--a really bizarre acronym in a singles mag?

Dave Fragments said...

I've tried to read Lesbian Fiction and although it was good, well plotted and the characters 3-dimensional, it bored me. But then, the lesbians told me they loved the stuff.

This is a scattered mess. It's nothing like those books. You're novel might be good but this query is a disaster area looking for the superfund cleanup crew.

As for the premise of the book, I guess that it is possible for a lesbian to live with a straight man to raise her kids. But living happily ever after? Now that doesn't sound reasonable. It's much easier for two women to live together with a bunch of kids.

Dave Fragments said...

Oh Dave,
you mispelled "you're" instead of the proper "your" ...
Shame! Shame! Bad! Bad!
Get the sack cloth and ashes and do penance!

Anonymous said...

Ok, this?

"[Her fascinating, riveting story morphs into syrupy tripe?]"

...made me laugh out loud :D.

pacatrue said...

I don't get anywhere in the query that the protagonist ends up spending any time with a man in a relationship at all. Is it purely because of the word "married" in the title that people are getting this? Being married means a lot more than legal marriage - it can also be a personal, social, and religious vow as well. I feel like I know several lesbian or gay couples who consider themselves married and use that term as well as the terms "wife" "husband" and "spouse"**, despite the legal limitations.

But that's just my experience. It sounds like rei and Dave have a different one such that "marriage" instantly made them think of a legal relationship. I guess, the author will have to figure out how that term is used among the people buying her book, mostly lesbian women we seem to think, and make the call. The author's credits indicate to me that she should know how the words are used much more intelligently than me. Of course, following EE's suggestion of giving all the appropriate names (unless they are Chris and Sam of course) and the actual plot, instead of just the theme or setting, should make this misunderstanding less likely.

**The quotes around these words are citation quotes, not scare quotes.

none said...

I don't think I've ever read an m/m romance--I don't read much romance, fullstop--but I picked up Sarah Waters' Fingersmith cheap last year without even realising it was an f/f romance (how dumb am I?) and enjoyed it so much that I ensured someone bought me Affinity for Christmas. Which I enjoyed ten times more. Oh, and I'm straight, so I guess I don't fit the demographic. Or any demographic! lol

Even though I am a woman between 25 and 50 (and no, I'm not narrowing it down any further than that), a book that refers to its subject as a slut is not one I'm going to pick up off the shelf. I hate that term.

Anonymous said...

I really liked the voice that came across in this query; it was lively and engaging. If the whole book is written this way, that would be a big plus. When you rewrite the query, please keep the fun voice!

But I will nod in agreement to some of the other comments made.

I was also worried at first that the book had this wildass lesbian slut marrying a man and getting "straightened" out just the way the religious right would like her to be. This is obviously opposite of what you were trying to imply about the book.

However, my impression was mostly formed by the Guess-the-Plot. In the query, it isn't much of a problem, although there'd be no room for confusion if the partner's gender was known sooner.

And if you're sending this query to agents that mostly handle lesbian literature, I don't think the way things are currently worded would be a problem at all.

The hard-sell stuff didn't bother me too much, especially if you're marketing this as non-fiction memoir. My understanding is that non-fiction pretty much requires that the author has done a bit of market research. If it's being marketed as fiction, however, then yeah - the hard-sell should be toned down.

December Quinn: I'll have to read that Smart Bitches post. I can get into m/m romance liek woah - even faster than I can get into a m/f romance, in fact - but f/f doesn't do a thing for me. I have no idea why.

Then again...twice the yummy boys and no annoying busoms blocking my view? Maybe it isn't such a mystery after all. :-)

GutterBall said...

I want to read GTP#4. Quick, someone write it!

Since I don't know much about the plot of this book from the query, I'll just say that the book is probably quirky and fun, but the query is not. If it's a true memoir -- as in, about you -- then I'd probably pass. If it's a fictionalized memoir, it might be lots of fun...but I can't tell.

I know it's hard to fit a lot of information into two or three paragraphs, but you'll help yourself a lot by following Mr. Evil's advice and axing the commentary on other books. If you want to compliment the agent's taste, maybe just a quick "I've read several novels on your list and loved them all, and I think my memoir/novel is right up your alley" or some such.

That leaves you so much more room to talk about the book. And, unless this really is a memoir, not so much about you. You're trying to sell your book, not yourself. Even a memoir has to have plot and character arc and...I dunno...names. Give us those, and I'm sure we'll have a lot more helpful things to say.

Word ver: buchpis - the Old High German spelling of "book piss".

Anonymous said...

I'm the target audience for this one, too, but just because I'm a gay girl (of the lipstick variety) doesn't mean that I'd like an angry hysterical former slut/alcoholic dyke any more than I'd like a straight gal with all those wonderful qualities. Sorry. Don't mean to bash you, but anyone STILL carrying around all that angry/edgy baggage would not be my friend nor find much sympathy from me.

Do memoirs really need a platform? I thought they were pretty much treated like fiction. Your query seems like it's trying to be an abbreviated non-fiction proposal rather than a fiction/memoir-type hook.

You DO have a good voice here, and butchier ladies may enjoy this protag more than I, so one of the gay presses might be interested. I'm not sure a mainstream publisher would be, though.

Wonderwood said...

Although I'm not a lesbian (though if I was female, I imagine I would be) I am a recovering alcoholic. I can tell you from my experience that one of the primary objectives of getting sober is losing that edgy, angry, internal hysteria. If this is a memoir, I'd suggest working on the sixth and seventh steps of the AA program. You'll be amazed at the results.

As far as the query, there isn't much I can add to what's already been said. It needs tightening and focus. You've listed some obstacles, and suggested that the protagonist has overcome them, but that's all you've done.

Concerning the math, assuming dramedy is 50% drama and 50% comedy, and comedy and dramedy are equal parts, that would make it 75% comedy, 25% drama.

Evil Editor said...

Concerning the math, assuming dramedy is 50% drama and 50% comedy

A ridiculous assumption. How many dramedies would exist if the criteria insisted that they be precisely 50:50? Very few. Let's say an author will refer to a book as a dramedy if its ratio of comedy to drama is anywhere from 25:75 to 75:25. Then there are 50 possible ratios of comedy to drama, only one of which is 50:50. And each dramedy must have its ratio determined so that we can then move on to determining the ratio of pure comedy to dramedy. Clear now?

Wonderwood said...

EE, you have spoken a mathematical truth; however, consider this:

dramedy = 7 letters

dra = 3 letters

the "m" is shared

edy = 3 letters

thus the word "dramedy" is composed of equal parts "drama" and "comedy", thus my 50:50 assumption.

E.S. Tesla said...

Technodyke? wow. lovin the url. reminds me of this guy that tried to sell me a pair of dyke pants once....

Ryoryo said...

Well, the formula for equal parts comedy and dramady would be:


so D= 2/3C, or the book is 33% drama and 67% comedy.

There is probably no point in doing this, since the only people who will see this are the ones who, like myself, are reading through the whole blog from the beginning but...

Using the formula stated, you end up with 75% comedy and 25% drama. Also, C+(C+D)/2 should add to 200% (to average comedy and dramedy, you'd need to dived the whole thing by 2 again).

(C+(C+D)/2)/2 = (2C/2+(C+D)/2)/2 = ((3C+D)/2)/2 = (3C+D)/4 = 1

Yes, I am a mathematician.


December Quinn said...

Luckily, she doesn't loose her edge, her anger, or her internal hysteria along the way.

That is lucky that she didn't lose those things! Because the world needs more edgy, angry, hysterical people raising children!

I'm not saying the book or character doesn't have its appeal; just that you want to make sure you're expressing it.