Nathan Bransford, Author

Monday, January 26, 2009

Feedback Week

Happy Year of the Ox, everyone!

Readers have been requesting some more query feedback and a venue for asking questions that have not yet been answered on the blog.


Here's the lineup for this week:

Today: If you'd like to have your query critiqued publicly on the blog, please enter your query in the comments section of this post. The first three people will get a critique.
Tomorrow: I'll open the comments section up to 5 questions (maybe more if time permits), which I'll answer later in the day.
Wednesday: Your regularly scheduled You Tell Me
Thursday: Um.... well, I haven't decided what to do on Thursday.
Friday: This Week in Publishing

There you have it. Please enter your query if you'd like it critiqued!


RW said...

I don't have a query ready for a critique, but this subject reminds me of a question for you. Suppose a writer has some credible testimony in support of their manuscript--in my case a formal critique by a friend who is a writer and an MFA teacher. (I've posted it on my blog.) Is there an acceptable way to use that to help persuade an agent? Blurb it in the letter? Include it in the letter? Like I say, my manuscript has a ways to go, so I'm talking about a hypothetical situation in the future.

Nathan Bransford said...


Please see this post.

Jake Seliger said...

If you'd like to have your query critiqued publicly on the blog, please enter your query in the comments section of this post.

I wrote the second draft of my query to you this weekend—your timing couldn't be better. See below (and note that the formatting got cut out):

January 26, 2009

(Sent via e-mail)

Dear Mr. Bransford:

Anders Davis and Shannon Niles, two University of Washington student reporters for The Daily, decide to explore the Greek System following what appears to be a rape at a fraternity house. Over the course of their investigation, the two become so enraptured with the object of their study that they become increasingly implicated in the events and crimes they are supposed to be covering.

I learned about you through your blog and am writing to offer A Winter-Seeming Summer’s Night, an 80,000-word novel, largely because of it. One post in particular stands out, in which you wrote, “Around the publishing industry there has long been a hankering for a certain type of book that is both literary and yet commercial, familiar and yet exotic, well-written but not too dense, accessible but with some depth. They are books that are kind of tough to categorize, because they don't exactly fit into any one genre. I'd often hear people calling them either literary commercial fiction or commercial literary fiction.” I like to think that A Winter-Seeming Summer’s Night fits the hybrid category you describe: it’s fueled by a powerful plot but is also concerned with language and expression, especially because its protagonists are self-aware writers.

The title refers a couplet from the Donne poem “Loves Alchymie:” “So, lovers dreame a rich and long delight / But get a winter-seeming summers night.” The couplet implies that what one so ardently seeks might, once it is acquired, seem quite different than how it is anticipated, and in that respect reflects the novel’s arc.

By way of background, I began the Ph.D. in English Literature program at the University of Arizona this fall, and I graduated from Clark University in 2006, where I earned a B.A., Magna Cum Laude, in English, with a specialization in creative writing. In addition, I write an independent literary blog, “The Story’s Story,” at, as well as “Grant Writing Confidential” with my father, Isaac, at Although I have never been a fraternity member, A Winter-Seeming Summer’s Night draws on more than a dozen interviews conducted with current and former members as well as numerous books and articles about Greek life.

Thank you in advance for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.


Jake Seliger

1745 East Glenn Street, Apt. 239
Tucson, AZ 85719
[phone number]

Rick Daley said...

Attn: Mr. Bransford,

Gil Jacobs must die in order to save his soul. After living dozens of lives over hundreds of years, the events of Gil's past are catching up with him, and he is powerless to prevent it.

Gil is supposed to die in a car crash, it's his fate, but a ghost who knew Gil in a past life is trying to keep him alive as payback for a lost love. If Gil lives past today, he will not be able to cross over when death eventually claims him, and his soul will be ripe for the taking. If Gil dies, he will escape to his next life and the ghost's chance at vengeance will be lost.

Fortunately, Gil is not alone in his struggle. The soul of a friend watches over him, and she alone has the capacity to keep the antagonist at bay long enough for Gil to die. Even if it means sacrificing her own soul.

FATE'S GUARDIAN is complete at 120,000 words. It is a supernatural thriller directed toward a commercial fiction audience, and first in a series titled DESTINY'S WILL.

I have been writing professionally for the past eight years, although admittedly not in my preferred style or market. I welcome the opportunity to embark on a career as a novelist. Writing is in my blood and I want my stories to be read.

I am a longtime reader of your blog, and I chose to query you because I trust that you have the talent and contacts needed to sell FATE'S GUARDIAN to a respected publisher. I also think that we could work well together, after all, people do business with people.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Rick Daley
Columbus, OH
(I would also include my phone number and email address)

Anonymous said...

The Realm of Elin might look like 18th century anywhere, but it isn’t. Not even close. It’s the world where Joanna Messina wakes up, after she drowns herself. At least, that’s where Ruarc Trevelian, the man who saved her life and calls himself the king of wherever she’s landed, tells her she is. She thinks she’s delusional and hearing Ruarc describe visions that he’s had of her since she was five years old only confirms that assumption to her. Joanna tries as best she can to cope with being the honored guest of a king that rules over a land of wizards and feuding barons, some of whom would like nothing better than to see Ruarc abdicate and are on the verge of rebellion, and then, of the blue, Ruarc forces her to marry him. Since she’s less than thrilled at the idea, he agrees to keep it a marriage in name only, until she decides otherwise. But that turns out to take much longer than Ruarc ever imagines. Joanna doesn’t want to be a wife or, even more inconceivably, a queen. She wants to go home, especially after she begins having prophetic visions, herself, one of which is of her own death.
As Joanna’s new crown teeters very ineptly upon her head, Ruarc’s long dead cousin, Asric, returns to Elin, hell-bent on revenge for his own execution. To settle the score, he strikes at the two things Ruarc loves most and has sworn to protect. The kingdom he rules and his wife.


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