Saturday, June 22, 2024

Face-Lift 1461

Guess the Plot

I Am Online

1. The harrowing tale of being lured in and then dragged to the surface against your will, as told by a mackerel.

2. The game "I am Online" started as a way to distract Sheila from her dull life. Except now what she thought was an AI in the game has turned out to be something all too real.

3. An anonymous teenager gets sucked into social media, doom scrolling, and sundry other activities, and their parents, siblings, concerned neighbors, and other persons can only watch helplessly as said teenager endures their compulsory education failures, lack of a job or any prospects, and finally no ability to achieve internet.

4. Nigel Werzen is inside the internet in a Philip K. Dick meets Ghost in the Shell sort of way. If he wants to kiss an actual human being before he dies he'll need to find out how, and possibly why, who and what. And his body. He'll need to find his body.

5. A teenager becomes an overnight internet sensation after his erotic encounters are broadcast online without his knowledge. Is this the ultimate humiliation? Or is it the big break he's been waiting for?

Please find my Query below. I hope you can give me feedback as I have not been too successful submitting it. 

Title: I am Online

Lenght: 240,000 words 
[Okay, I think I see your problem. Your book is actually three books. You just haven't figured out where the first two end. If you want to be able to sell a really long book like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, you should first try selling a normal-sized book like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Then make each successive book you write a little longer than the previous one. For instance, your first book could be titled I Am in My Neighborhood. Then you write a book called I Am in Barcelona, followed by I Am in Spain, I Am in Europe, and then this book, I am Online. Eventually you will write I Am in the Universe (Length: 50 billion words).] 

Original Version
Dear Literary Agent,
I am thrilled to present “I am Online,” my debut novel that chronicles the unexpected rise of Sebas, an eighteen-year-old who inadvertently becomes an erotic webcam sensation. [Your title should be italicized. The 2nd half of your first sentence should not.] [Wait, inadvertently? It sounds like he didn't know the erotic stuff he was doing was going out via webcam. If that happened to me, I'd be angry and mortified, but Sebas is apparently thrilled to have finally found purpose in his life.] This narrative explores his journey of self-discovery, the complexities of human relationships, and the dichotomy between virtual fame and real-world anonymity. [That's pretty vague. Work it into paragraph 4 if you must have it, but right now we want to know what happens in your book. Plot specifics.] 
Thirty-eight euros in his pocket, all his life savings, was everything Sebas had on him when he stepped out of the last night train at Barcelona’s central station. Probably Sebas [Maybe he] should have planned his home runaway [getaway] better. But he didn’t. He just could not stand his oppressive home life anymore.  The city, poised to swallow him whole, instead becomes the backdrop for his meteoric rise in the adult industry. 
As the number of his webcam followers grows into the thousands, Sebas grapples with the stark contrast between his online celebrity and his offline struggles.      
“I am Online” weaves through genres, one could say this novel is for “Fifty shades of Grey” what “Pose” is to “Sex and the City”: a kinky story narrated by those whose kinkiness is not mainstream or often understood. It is the antithesis of “Heartstopper,” away from gay-mimicking-straight relationships in a sugar-coated plot, I don’t hold back: Sebas goes through a lot and he gets to see [experiences] the cruelty of human nature and how relationships are often driven by desire and selfishness rather than by love and feelings. Set in the year 2014, this tale also serves as a modern coming-out story, far away from those early-00 cheesy stories, this one reflects a contemporary time when the lines between hetero and homo are more blurred than ever. [2014 was modern and contemporary in 2014. It's now as much ancient history as the early 00's were in 2014.] 
My own experiences as an LGBTQ individual growing up in Barcelona and living across the globe have deeply influenced this work, infusing it with authenticity and a unique perspective.
So far, only few friends have read “I am Online”. [A few have told you they read it. They lied.] Feedback is diverse: “the world is a very f*** up place”, “I am ashamed to admit I wish I had been Sebas” or “this story will make readers disgusted and horny at the same time”. But maybe the best one was “it’s hilarious, it reads itself”. 
I have chosen to query you because your reputation for championing bold, boundary-pushing literature aligns perfectly with the essence of “I am Online.” I believe this novel not only entertains but also opens a dialogue about the evolving landscape of sexuality and identity.

Thank you for considering my submission. I am eager to discuss the potential of “I am Online” and look forward to the possibility of working together.

You must either convert this into a three-book series, or whittle it down to 80,000 words by getting rid of massive amounts of wordiness, repetition, chapters that don't advance the plot, rambling musings about life, etc. Did I say whittle it down? You need an industrial buzz saw.
While I imagine webcams draw far fewer viewers than websites, (Pornhub: 750 million visits per week; Me, Sebas, in my Motel Room: 2000 visits/month), I wouldn't call  a few thousand followers a meteoric rise toward becoming an online celebrity. Maybe you should lie and say he's got half a million followers.
Here's all I know about what happens in your 240,000 words: Guy with oppressive home life catches train to Barcelona, hits the sheets with someone who failed to mention he was broadcasting their activity online, and becomes an overnight sensation. (My version: 29 words.)
Are there any other characters? A close friend, a traitor, a lover, a murderer, a joker, a thief?
What's the most important event in this book? What is Sebas's goal? What's his plan to achieve it? What's standing in his way? What decision must he make to succeed? What if he fails? That's the kind of stuff we want in the query. If you get rid of the red words and my comments, you might have room to answer some of those questions. Even literary fiction needs a story.
On the bright side, it seems like three fourths of all literary agents are desperately looking for books by LGBTQ+ authors, so you have a leg up if you do have a story and characters.


Anonymous said...

Hey author, congratulations on finishing your book.

As EE said, it's way way waaayyyyyy too long. And the redundancy in your description of the book is going to affirm that the book itself has a lot of redundancy as well. i.e. It doesn't need to be as long as it is. Edit it down and possibly break it into multiple books before you continue.

Do not talk about what you think of your book, or what others have told you about your book (Unless you've got comments from a Pulitzer Prize winner whose name can be used as a marketing point, the agent/editor doesn't care).

Don't talk about the book. Talk about the plot with specifics. Try for 10 sentences of ~10 words each. Divide them into three paragraphs. First para, introduction of character and situation. Second, plot progress/development - where's it all seems to be heading. Third para, crisis - an event/situation/decision that has to be dealt with and has big trouble written all over it.

Hope this helps
good luck

Sergio Santamaria said...

Dear Evil Editor
I want to thank you for the review you did on my Query Letter, that made me think about how to present my book in a way that can be better perceived. I am making major changes (rewriting it) and would love to submit it again once it is ready.
Thank you also to the annonymous user who commented, very helpful as well, I am considering those ideas too.