I am the lucky gold star recipient for the QL you analysed in your 17th January blog (QL #11, "A Heat Of The Moment Thing"). I was absolutely thrilled that it had passed muster, but have just received feedback from RWAmerica's Great Expectations contest that pretty much slammed the identical QL! This is what was said:
'Query is nicely written but I am not seeing a hint of a story, goal, motivation, major conflict, hurdles. This seems more like a description of two or so chapters. What does Becky want to achieve? What’s her goal? How is it impeded? What are some of the psychological reasons Becky doesn’t do relationships, or even a hint of one, e.g., "burned by boys in high school, young..."'
Now, I understand that judges are generally not agents or editors! And I understand that one person's idea of a great QL isn't necessarily another's. But I thought I'd hinted at enough to whet an agent/editor's appetite. Now I'm left wondering if this is something I should be trying to address in a more specific way - or whether it's a US vs Downunder thing - or whether it's just one of those best-ignored quirky judges' comments.
Any thoughts you have on this would be greatly appreciated.
This a perfect example of why it's so hard for authors to be able to guess what's right for the agent, publisher or competition they're submitting to: everyone's different, and you can't please all of the people all of the time. All any of us 'industry professionals' can do is try to provide some general guidelines, but in the end it all comes down to the expectations and taste of the person who's reading your query.
For me, your query letter was pretty much perfect. I loved your tone; the amount of detail you gave was great, and the hook was great too. I don't know what the RWAmerica guidelines were but it seems as though these judges had certain expectations that weren't met. The amount of detail requested by the judges - the detail they're saying you didn't provide - is probably more detail than agents/publishers would want. I don't need you to tell me about the character's psychological background in the query letter - I expect to find that out when I read the manuscript.
So perhaps this is just a matter of different submission guidelines and different expectations, and romance is quite specific about what's expected (I'm not an expert in it). Perhaps the lesson out of it is: read the submission guidelines carefully.
However, I thought you wrote a great query letter. So why not test it 'in the wild' - send it out, see what happens? If you're concerned, only send it to a couple of agents and see what the response is. If you're getting rejected, then look at tweaking it and maybe consult with some members of the romance writing community - it's very vibrant and, from what I've seen, collegial.