Query Critique

But they sell. If you want an agent (not you, of course) you need to go with what sells….
I legit wonder about that-- do they sell? Do the Sarah Maas books sell, or do all books titled like that sell? Book sales are so obfuscated and masked, its a legit question. If Sanderson/King/Ishigawa title a novel X way, does it sell better/worse because they titled it that way? Would I buy another book because they use a similar naming convention? Having spent a preposterous amount of time looking over my reading in the last 2 years, the answer (for me) is objectively no, but, I also don't know if I'm typical or standard--having a single data point isn't helpful and the sites go to great lengths to make data scraping hard.

One thing I've really appreciated from Publishing Rodeo (podcast) is that they talk about ways to estimate book sales relative to Goodreads and Amazon reviews (Goodreads is like 10x buys per review and publishers really look at, On the shelf. Amazon is like 3.33x per review). It is bonkers to me that authors at a Big 5 Publisher do not know their sales until the royalty check shows up.

It's the same argument for, Make another Hallmark/Marvel movie: people will watch it. In publishing terms, it's why Richard Patterson has a horde of ghost authors and Tom Clancy, dead for over a decade, still publishes books: they're a brand, not an author. Would people watch read another thriller/christmas movie/super hero flick without the credentials of the publisher? Maybe?? But engagement is so obfuscated, no one (outside of the publisher) actually knows if they sell/if they could offer something better.
 
It’s like any market - the cream rises. But at the moment yes, booktok books sell in big numbers, including pretty dire ones.

But that type of title only helps if you are writing for a specific market. If it’s not slightly spicey (sometimes very), easy read, then it won’t work.

Publishers are very good at telling readers what kind of book to expect through cover and title (and blurb). You would not believe how many people choose a book based only on that.

If you’re writing a book tok book, putting on the whistles and bells to show readers what it is will help. If you’re not, using that sort of title will harm you by attracting the wrong readers.

Your blurb and query is exactly the same. It has to reflect your book - the feel, the stakes, the style. GRRM’s does exactly that.

If the current ‘rules’ for query aren’t working, rip it up and try something else, maybe? I got my agent from a tongue in cheek query written on the spur of the moment, not the beautifully crafted one I’d subbed for months.
 
When she discovers a seemingly normal infant born to a dying bent, she does the only sensible thing: lies and ditches the baby on her overachieving twin sister Ronna’s doorstep.
I have to disagree with others. This part doesn't seem like backstory to me. To me it looks like the Inciting Incident, the place where the story actually begins. The decision (NOT sensible, but likely to be gut-wrenching and guilt-inducing, whichever way she chose) of whether to euthenize the baby or hide it with her sister, it strikes me as a great way to begin a story. If Eigyr didn't return to the story later, then perhaps this might seem like the Dreaded Prologue (that is, yes, backstory), but since she does return, it doesn't. To me, it looks like Chapter One.*

As for the title, you may not be concerned now whether people will take offense, but if and when there is a big hullabaloo, distracting you from your writing, distracting you from the rest of your life, which I see from your query is an admirable one that you might not want to be unnecessarily disrupted by a name—not just the title of your book, but how your characters designate these "monstrosities"—that you could have easily changed now, you might feel differently then. It's not always the crazy people who wear you down (because it doesn't pay to engage with them), but the polite letters from reasonable, well-meaning people that you might feel obligated to anwer. When people are reading messages into your work that you never intended, and you get tired of explaining that you meant no such thing . . . I mean, honestly, does the short, snappy title really mean that much to you?

Further along in the query, you mention that the mission of the fleet might be imperiled. But since the mission is a search for mythical aliens it doesn't seem that vital. It doesn't seem like something readers will care about, not just stated baldly that way. (In the actual book, of course, it might be different, you might make readers care very much. But in the brevity of a query, no. ) The fleet, well it is ships, of course, inanimate, unsympathetic, but it has proved to be a sanctuary for Ronna and the girl for four years, and it is more than the vessels, more than the mission, it is the people on board, the ships people who Ronna may have learned to care for deeply. So perhaps you might more specifically mention the danger to them if things go sideways.

Finally, I do agree with Jo on one point: if the standard form of query can't be made to work for this book (but I think you need to work on it for a while more before making any decision of that sort), then perhaps it would be a good idea to experiment with other approaches.


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*When some of my characters needed to hide a baby, which I thought would do for a (somewhat long) Chapter One, in actually writing the story turned out to be Chapters One through Five, but that's how these things go sometimes.

By the way, I hope, with that sort of beginning, you are prepared for readers to sense messianic vibes, whether or not you intend them.
 
Wormhole bridging technology miscalculations contort parts of ships and souls into Bents: fractal origami monstrosities. Eigyr’s team kills bent people, collapses bent ship parts and sells the clean bits. When she discovers a seemingly normal infant born to a dying bent, she does the only sensible thing: lies and ditches the baby on her overachieving twin sister Ronna’s doorstep.
May I just point out that these sentences are so loaded with adjectives that it is almost unreadable? And it almost sounds like comedy the way you avoid describing the motivations for anything.

Wormhole miscalculations contort ships and souls. The victims are known as Bents. Eigyr and her teammates put the Bents out of their misery and salvage what remains of their ships. When she discovers a seemingly unBent infant in the wreckage, she does the unforgiveable and dumps the baby on her overachieving sister's doorstep.


Also, describing a door (a vertical passage into a building) as turning into a crater (a horizontal defect in the ground) is a confusing allusion. Homes become craters, not walls and doorways.


I would seriously consider going through and tightening up your language so the story and reasons for it come out. Right now the big ideas are camouflaged by difficult language.
 
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It’s like any market - the cream rises. But at the moment yes, booktok books sell in big numbers, including pretty dire ones.

But that type of title only helps if you are writing for a specific market. If it’s not slightly spicey (sometimes very), easy read, then it won’t work.

Publishers are very good at telling readers what kind of book to expect through cover and title (and blurb). You would not believe how many people choose a book based only on that.

If you’re writing a book tok book, putting on the whistles and bells to show readers what it is will help. If you’re not, using that sort of title will harm you by attracting the wrong readers.

Your blurb and query is exactly the same. It has to reflect your book - the feel, the stakes, the style. GRRM’s does exactly that.

If the current ‘rules’ for query aren’t working, rip it up and try something else, maybe? I got my agent from a tongue in cheek query written on the spur of the moment, not the beautifully crafted one I’d subbed for months.
What little spice I had I pulled back because it wasn't very good. I felt like I had it for the reader's titillation (pun intended) not the character.

But yes, your point is well taken and (i think?) I've set my expectation's appropriately: it wasn't written nor is it intended as a box-book, a book club book or a booktok darling. If it finds that audience, hey, awesome, but it's more Sunyi Dean than Emily St. John Mandel (if that analogy makes sense).

And i don't know if the query is working or not because I haven't queried with it yet. I'm not happy with where it is and while I'm far from a perfectionist, I can't send out something I know isn't there yet.
 
I have to disagree with others. This part doesn't seem like backstory to me. To me it looks like the Inciting Incident, the place where the story actually begins. The decision (NOT sensible, but likely to be gut-wrenching and guilt-inducing, whichever way she chose) of whether to euthenize the baby or hide it with her sister, it strikes me as a great way to begin a story. If Eigyr didn't return to the story later, then perhaps this might seem like the Dreaded Prologue (that is, yes, backstory), but since she does return, it doesn't. To me, it looks like Chapter One.*
You got it -- that is the inciting incident. The relationship triangle between the sisters and the child--dealing with the lies, omissions, guilt, misunderstandings, wrapped in variable definitions of parenthood and family and stressed by an active physical threat-- is the core of the story, and it all begins with Eigyr finding a baby, dropping it on her sister's lap and leaving, then wrapping herself in justification.

(There's also a fun later scene where the girl gets to see Eigyr struggle with and make different decisions re: saving/euthanizing the (bent/unbent) infant over and over)

As for the title, you may not be concerned now whether people will take offense, but if and when there is a big hullabaloo, distracting you from your writing, distracting you from the rest of your life, which I see from your query is an admirable one that you might not want to be unnecessarily disrupted by a name—not just the title of your book, but how your characters designate these "monstrosities"—that you could have easily changed now, you might feel differently then. It's not always the crazy people who wear you down (because it doesn't pay to engage with them), but the polite letters from reasonable, well-meaning people that you might feel obligated to anwer. When people are reading messages into your work that you never intended, and you get tired of explaining that you meant no such thing . . . I mean, honestly, does the short, snappy title really mean that much to you?
I've been looking at this--but it isn't just the title: bent is a a central term and slang in the manuscript. It's the boogeyman and the transportation crash and a fact of life, all rolled into one--like if a car or plane crash sometimes created zombies. I've used either bent or bend 241 times in the ms so changing it would be a substantial edit. I'm trying to come up with something else that could work but, so far... still trying to come up with something :)

Further along in the query, you mention that the mission of the fleet might be imperiled. But since the mission is a search for mythical aliens it doesn't seem that vital. It doesn't seem like something readers will care about, not just stated baldly that way. (In the actual book, of course, it might be different, you might make readers care very much. But in the brevity of a query, no. ) The fleet, well it is ships, of course, inanimate, unsympathetic, but it has proved to be a sanctuary for Ronna and the girl for four years, and it is more than the vessels, more than the mission, it is the people on board, the ships people who Ronna may have learned to care for deeply. So perhaps you might more specifically mention the danger to them if things go sideways.
That's an excellent point --thank you. Yeah, the mission is laughable to Ronna (You want to pay me to spend 4 years on a luxury ship hunting for Santa Claus? Sure. Oooooh, noooo, we didn't find him? Shuuuuucks--so, about my paycheck) but it provides sanctuary for Maeve and Ronna makes friends she cares about on the ship.

Finally, I do agree with Jo on one point: if the standard form of query can't be made to work for this book (but I think you need to work on it for a while more before making any decision of that sort), then perhaps it would be a good idea to experiment with other approaches.
I haven't tried querying with it yet -- and, agreed, it's because I know it isn't there yet.

____
*When some of my characters needed to hide a baby, which I thought would do for a (somewhat long) Chapter One, in actually writing the story turned out to be Chapters One through Five, but that's how these things go sometimes.
The first draft of the chapter was like 11k words (I know--it's now under 4k, and that still feels long) but, for me, i get the best bits by writing it out and then coming back to edit/reduce after the fact. Pruning what's on the page seems to provide the best results.
By the way, I hope, with that sort of beginning, you are prepared for readers to sense messianic vibes, whether or not you intend them.
There's a little of that, yeah, but it's also clear this isn't the first infant they've found like this and it's not immaculate nor a reincarnation. But yes--lightly intentional, but more to just leave it open if I want to do something with it later, not, Chosen One vibe.

Super helpful feedback -- thank you!
 
Wormhole miscalculations contort ships and souls. The victims are known as Bents. Eigyr and her teammates put the Bents out of their misery and salvage what remains of their ships. When she discovers a seemingly unBent infant in the wreckage, she does the unforgiveable and dumps the baby on her overachieving sister's doorstep.
That's a good call out--but it's a fine line between giving conceit and showing voice while giving conceit. But the point is spot on.

Interesting on crater-- I always understood it as a large hole in a surface, not specifically the ground.
 
v11 Here (the other bits for comps, background, history, etc, remain the same, but I'm not going to bother posting as that seems fine)

Eigyr Bhatia salvages nightmares. It’s lucrative. It’s exhilarating. It’s devouring her sanity.

Wormhole miscalculations cause Bents: fractal origami contortions of ships and souls that draw alien attention. Eigyr and her team kill the Bents and salvage what remains. When she discovers a seemingly healthy infant born to a dying Bent, she does the only sensible thing: ditches the baby on her overachieving twin sister Ronna’s lap.

Seventeen years later, Ronna’s life is in shambles. Divorced, demoted and destitute, the only thing left is Maeve, her teenage daughter corporate polities want to forcibly “recruit”. Standing in the charred ruins of her doorway, Ronna signs on to crew a lavishly outfitted boondoggle searching for mythical aliens and their made-up homeworld. If she can’t deal with her problems, she can wormhole away from them.

They’ve barely settled in when Eigyr reappears, revealing the aliens aren’t mythical, just reclusive and hateful towards wormhole travelers. The trio of women grapple with decades of secrets and lies as fleet obligations slow progress towards safety. Detouring around inhabited systems and stopping to rescue an old scientist and settle debts gives corporate polities time to re-engage. Done with fleeing, Maeve creates safety: ambushed and outnumbered, she unleashes a questionably ethical weapon. When a fleeing ship is Bent, reality tears and summons supernal aliens, upending the terms of survival for the women and all aboard their fleet.
 
That's a good call out--but it's a fine line between giving conceit and showing voice while giving conceit. But the point is spot on.

Interesting on crater-- I always understood it as a large hole in a surface, not specifically the ground.
You could have a vertical crater - but a crater is not a hole - it is a dent with a bottom. A blown out door is a hole.

We could certainly argue about craters, but the way you wrote that makes it sound like there is a crater in the ground under where the door used to be.
 
Anyone have thoughts on the latest version?

Eigyr Bhatia salvages nightmares. It’s lucrative. It’s exhilarating. It’s devouring her sanity.

Wormhole miscalculations cause Bents: fractal origami contortions of ships and souls that draw alien attention. Eigyr and her team kill the Bents then salvage what remains. When she discovers a seemingly healthy infant born to a dying Bent, she does the only sensible thing: ditches the baby on her overachieving twin sister Ronna’s lap.

Seventeen years later, Ronna’s life is in shambles. Divorced, demoted and nearly destitute, she's sacrificed for her daughter, Maeve. Because that's what a good mother does. The first physics prodigy in a generation, corporate polities have targeted Maeve for "enhanced recruitment" since she was twelve. When the latest attempt leaves her front door a charred ruin, Ronna signs on to crew a lavishly outfitted boondoggle searching for mythical aliens and their made-up homeworld. If she can’t deal with her problems, she can wormhole away from them.

They’ve barely settled in when Eigyr reappears, revealing the aliens aren’t mythical, just reclusive and hateful towards wormhole travelers. The trio of women grapple with decades of secrets and lies as fleet obligations slow progress towards the safety of deep space. Detouring around inhabited systems, stopping to rescue an old scientist and settling debts gives corporate polities one last chance to re-engage. Done with fleeing, Maeve chooses to create safety: ambushed and outnumbered, she unleashes a questionably ethical weapon. When a fleeing ship is Bent, reality tears and summons supernal aliens, upending the terms of survival for the women and all aboard their fleet.
 
Eigyr Bhatia salvages nightmares. It’s lucrative. It’s exhilarating. It’s devouring her sanity.
Nightmare shipwrecks? Or nightmares, like Freddy Kruger? The first line draws me in, but then I'm disappointed because it is not a story about lucid dreaming but something completely different.

They’ve barely settled in when Eigyr reappears, revealing the aliens aren’t mythical, just reclusive and hateful towards wormhole travelers. The trio of women grapple with decades of secrets and lies as fleet obligations slow progress towards the safety of deep space. Detouring around inhabited systems, stopping to rescue an old scientist and settling debts gives corporate polities one last chance to re-engage. Done with fleeing, Maeve chooses to create safety: ambushed and outnumbered, she unleashes a questionably ethical weapon. When a fleeing ship is Bent, reality tears and summons supernal aliens, upending the terms of survival for the women and all aboard their fleet.
"hateful toward" is weak. "are the enemies of" or "pledged to destroy".

"fleet obligations slow progress toward the safety of deep space". Safety from charred front doors? Are the ships "corporate polities"? Who are they engaging? Who are they fleeing?

"Done with fleeing" and "create safety". Awkward language. "Tired of fleeing, Mauve goes on the offensive, unleashing an ethically questionable weapon." Did she Bend the ship and tear reality? Did she do so on purpose?


A bit of jargon is good. All jargon is bad, because the letter reader is not yet the book reader. Cut them a break and paint the dramatic events in more straightforward language so all that action isn't lost in the nomenclature. And clean up who does what to whom for what reason. I can't tell who they are fighting, since the aliens don't show up until the last line.

You also have three characters that are supposed to be at the breaking point, but for three largely unrelated reasons. That is either too much, or a unifying theme. Either way, what is happening to them individually is unexplained and creates more messy ambiguity.


Forget that you wrote this story. Write it like it is a book report of a Larry Niven book for your English teacher that doesn't care about SF (or at least split the difference). It can't all be mysterious.
 
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Nightmare shipwrecks? Or nightmares, like Freddy Kruger? The first line draws me in, but then I'm disappointed because it is not a story about lucid dreaming but something completely different.
Can I ask why you assume it is either or? Yes, it's "salvage" but it's also, "fractal origami monstrosities". Neither option fits in a neat box-- at least in my mind?

"hateful toward" is weak. "are the enemies of" or "pledged to destroy".
It's more nuance than kill/no kill and I'm trying to avoid pure hyperbole. It's more like... the US and N. Korea, and the aliens are the US? Like, hey, you wanna mess around, starve your people and talk about how amazing you are? Cool, go nuts. Oh, wait, you want to build an ICBM? Well now we have a problem. What's a better term for that? Paternalistic? Paternizing?

A bit of jargon is good. All jargon is bad
I don't know what you're referring to? The only jargon is "bent" (and I'm not counting wormhole because it's scifi being pitched to scifi literate agents). Polity is a normal word. There's a bunch of alliteration? I'm not sure what you're referring to with jargon?

I can't tell who they are fighting, since the aliens don't show up until the last line.
Is it the inclusion of the aliens that's throwing it off? Because, tldr, the book is 95% corporate state antagonist, 5% alien antagonist--and that 5% is driven by the nature of the 95% conflict. To kick the analogy from above, the aliens sit on the sidelines going, Blow yourselves up, see if we care--hey, wait, you're dropping nukes?!? <rolls up sleeves>. In my mind, they should only enter the at the end as an escalation because they aren't the main event--that's the people hunting the 17yo, that blew up the doorway, that regrouped and continued pursuing.
 
I do have a question. How can observers detect a contorted "soul"? Reading this, up until just now I took this to be a poetic way of saying humans (I quite liked the alliteration), but it occurs to me that others who read your query might be a bit confused. Is it just the bents inner beings (literally their souls) that are contorted (what would this even look like and who would be capable of detecting it, since souls are incorporeal?), or are you saying, as I assumed at the beginning that the bodies, too, have been contorted into monstrosities. Otherwise, well, how would the apparent health of the infant be significant?

Although, the oftener I read the beginning of your query, the more I'm uncomfortable with the thought of Eigyr, presumably a co-protagonist, killing bents simply because they are hideously deformed. Are they suffering? Have they somehow proved themselves to be dangerous to ordinary humans? Others have called you out for too much backstory, so I don't like to suggest that you add more, but in order to understand the situation and Eigyr, I think it is necessary — and often in such cases a careful choice of words can say a lot without adding much in the way of excess verbiage.

I realize that this is a complex book dealing with complex concepts, which can be enormously difficult to boil down and still explain with clarity . . . but that is the challenge you have set for yourself. For what I have seen, I am confident that you are up to that challenge, but it may take you quite a lot of time and many more attempts at writing a query before you are there.
 
Can I ask why you assume it is either or? Yes, it's "salvage" but it's also, "fractal origami monstrosities". Neither option fits in a neat box-- at least in my mind?
You said before that they were salvaging the unBent parts. I now have no idea what your character does for a living. You just need to decide if the agent you're sending this to enjoys a huge amount of ambiguity.

It's more nuance than kill/no kill and I'm trying to avoid pure hyperbole. It's more like... the US and N. Korea, and the aliens are the US? Like, hey, you wanna mess around, starve your people and talk about how amazing you are? Cool, go nuts. Oh, wait, you want to build an ICBM? Well now we have a problem. What's a better term for that? Paternalistic? Paternizing?
Don't use my suggestions. I was mainly trying to say that "hateful toward" sounds like the kind of terminology found in a sensitivity workshop. Consider "hate".

I don't know what you're referring to? The only jargon is "bent" (and I'm not counting wormhole because it's scifi being pitched to scifi literate agents). Polity is a normal word. There's a bunch of alliteration? I'm not sure what you're referring to with jargon?
"Fractal origami contortions". "Corporate polities re-engage". "Supernal beings". Jargon isn't an invented word, it is using words in an unfamiliar way to outsiders.
Is it the inclusion of the aliens that's throwing it off? Because, tldr, the book is 95% corporate state antagonist, 5% alien antagonist--and that 5% is driven by the nature of the 95% conflict. To kick the analogy from above, the aliens sit on the sidelines going, Blow yourselves up, see if we care--hey, wait, you're dropping nukes?!? <rolls up sleeves>. In my mind, they should only enter the at the end as an escalation because they aren't the main event--that's the people hunting the 17yo, that blew up the doorway, that regrouped and continued pursuing.
I am not "thrown off". I'm telling you what is unclear and confusing about your summary that will almost certainly disorient any reader not well invested in parsing your meanings. Like an agent with a tall stack of letters to go through. Do you want to catch their attention or confuse them?


I am your target audience, because I can read 30 pages into a book without being bothered by the way nothing is explained. So if a reader like me thinks your summary comes off as disjointed, it is probably quite a bit of work for more typical SF readers. Take the advice, don't take the advice; solve the problem any way you like. But I'm not confused, so this isn't a debate. Either your letter does what it is supposed to or it doesn't.
 
I do have a question. How can observers detect a contorted "soul"? Reading this, up until just now I took this to be a poetic way of saying humans (I quite liked the alliteration), but it occurs to me that others who read your query might be a bit confused. Is it just the bents inner beings (literally their souls) that are contorted (what would this even look like and who would be capable of detecting it, since souls are incorporeal?), or are you saying, as I assumed at the beginning that the bodies, too, have been contorted into monstrosities. Otherwise, well, how would the apparent health of the infant be significant?

Although, the oftener I read the beginning of your query, the more I'm uncomfortable with the thought of Eigyr, presumably a co-protagonist, killing bents simply because they are hideously deformed. Are they suffering? Have they somehow proved themselves to be dangerous to ordinary humans? Others have called you out for too much backstory, so I don't like to suggest that you add more, but in order to understand the situation and Eigyr, I think it is necessary — and often in such cases a careful choice of words can say a lot without adding much in the way of excess verbiage.

I realize that this is a complex book dealing with complex concepts, which can be enormously difficult to boil down and still explain with clarity . . . but that is the challenge you have set for yourself. For what I have seen, I am confident that you are up to that challenge, but it may take you quite a lot of time and many more attempts at writing a query before you are there.
To pull back the plot curtain (and i'm not sure this is actually helpful bc it's worldbuilding that is revealed slowly through the ms, but would drown someone in a query or blurb):

Wormholes exist behind any particular dimension. They're based on Einstein Rosen bridges. In a wormhole, time flows bi-directionally -- it initially flows forward, then when you reach the halfway point, it reverses, until you exit at approximately the same moment in time as when you entered. Being awake in a bridge and experiencing time backwards made people go insane, so they sedate during a bridge. But if someone dies or is born mid-wormhole, they can't undie or be unborn: the creation or destruction of consciousness results in causal irregularities with the flow of time, which results in bents.

In my mind, this creates all sort of fun and interesting effects (birth control isn't optional, age standards for travel are rigid, ftl travel is possible but risky, etc.)

A lot of the late-reveal plot deals with multi-dimensionality and there being infinite versions of everyone -- when a person goes to a crossroads, there's a dimension where they go left, another where they go right, another where they stop, another where they turn around, etc. When a bent event occurs, it collapses multiple dimensional versions of a person into a single dimension. The version of that person who turned left, right, stopped, etc, is now forced into one form, resulting in a physical form with multiple arms, legs, heads, brains, etc. If Version1 stands HERE and Version2 is a centimeter to the left, and VersionX is half a meter away but 3cm higher, those get collapsed together. They all fully exist but in a combined form. This is true for people and objects. Often, bent people are fused into objects, as one version of them was in one location and another version a meter away, etc. In short, it's physically obvious that someone is bent.

The story explores whether a bent person could be saved/healed/repaired and, as of this book they cannot. There's an entire ethical plotline of the role of science and choosing between an immoral victory or a moral death.

Sorry for vomiting worldbuilding over your question and helpful comments! :)
 
You said before that they were salvaging the unBent parts. I now have no idea what your character does for a living. You just need to decide if the agent you're sending this to enjoys a huge amount of ambiguity.


Don't use my suggestions. I was mainly trying to say that "hateful toward" sounds like the kind of terminology found in a sensitivity workshop. Consider "hate".


"Fractal origami contortions". "Corporate polities re-engage". "Supernal beings". Jargon isn't an invented word, it is using words in an unfamiliar way to outsiders.

I am not "thrown off". I'm telling you what is unclear and confusing about your summary that will almost certainly disorient any reader not well invested in parsing your meanings. Like an agent with a tall stack of letters to go through. Do you want to catch their attention or confuse them?


I am your target audience, because I can read 30 pages into a book without being bothered by the way nothing is explained. So if a reader like me thinks your summary comes off as disjointed, it is probably quite a bit of work for more typical SF readers. Take the advice, don't take the advice; solve the problem any way you like. But I'm not confused, so this isn't a debate. Either your letter does what it is supposed to or it doesn't.
I appreciate the thoughts -- If I'm coming across as defensive/attacking, that's not my intent: I'm seeking clarity. I understood "jargon" to be made up terms of art (e.g. bent), not 10-cent English words. But, yeah, words like, supernal, and, polity, aren't everyday words and using too many is off-putting.

Is the content of the query confusing, or is it the discussion around it? Because i think (?) people understood the opening line: Eigyr goes into ships that have been mangled in a cosmic accident, kills some kind of monster, and then salvages the rest.

"Creates peace" is a (poorly) veiled reference to Tacitus and Arkady Martine's, A Desolation Called Peace, (To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire, and where they make a desert, they call it peace) with Wayne Dyer's quote ("Peace is not merely a distant goal, but a journey we continue to create, moment by moment"). Maeve unleashes a highly destructive weapon in the name of creating peace (because the other side is dead.)

I played with the closing paragraph. Is this clearer?

They’ve barely settled in when Eigyr reappears, unveiling the aliens' reality—not mythical but reclusive, and resolutely opposed to humanity's progress. The trio confront years of secrets and lies while fleet obligations hinder their journey to safety. Detours and rescues provide corporate states the chance to re-engage. Ambushed and outnumbered, Maeve spurns Ronna’s escape plan, choosing to be feared over fleeing yet again. Unleashing a morally ambiguous weapon, a fleeing ship is Bent. Reality tears and the paternalistic aliens appear, upending the terms of survival for the women and all aboard their fleet.
 
I appreciate the thoughts -- If I'm coming across as defensive/attacking, that's not my intent: I'm seeking clarity. I understood "jargon" to be made up terms of art (e.g. bent), not 10-cent English words. But, yeah, words like, supernal, and, polity, aren't everyday words and using too many is off-putting.
"Jargon: special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand."
E.g. "tolerance stacking".

Is the content of the query confusing, or is it the discussion around it? Because i think (?) people understood the opening line: Eigyr goes into ships that have been mangled in a cosmic accident, kills some kind of monster, and then salvages the rest.
It isn't "confusing", it is unclear. But comparing an earlier version to this one makes it sound like what the MC does has changed between versions. Which I think is probably just that you're being cagey.

But the discussion isn't the place to address a lack of clarity, unless you are going to mail yourself along with your queries. The letter needs to answer the questions raised, or not raise them. Any mysteries in your summary should be intriguing, not confusing.

I played with the closing paragraph. Is this clearer?
Yes, but you still haven't addressed who is being re-engaged. Saying "re-engaged" makes the reader feel like they should know who was already engaged.
 
I don't know what a query letter should contain. All I know is that is should get the agent to request more pages from you. What I am missing here is the basic driver of a story: What does someone want and what is stopping them from getting it?

You have a very interesting idea. When you mention plot, I'm excited, but when you mention people I'm missing information. Here are some random thoughts/questions. None of them are meant to discourage: I'm just trying to understand better.
  1. Three characters are named. Who is important? The most important?
  2. Why is Ronna's life in shambles? Is it because she's trying to keep Maeve safe?
  3. Is Maeve a "chosen one" type of character? Is this YA or teen?
  4. Does the book cover 17 years? Or does it start when Maeve is 17?
  5. Both Eigyr and Ronna sound like they run from problems. Is this intentional?
As an experiment I tried to write a summary from the picture I have in my head, filling in with fake information what I think is missing.

Maeve has just bent a whole ship full of baddies with her mind and she is scared and exhilarated. Her stuffy "mother" Ronna is of course furious at her. But,as Maeve has recently found out, Ronna isn't her real mother. Figures. But her much funner and more adventurous aunt Eigyr is also mad at her. Says she's summoned demons from another dimension or something. Why's Eigyr acting stuffy all of a sudden? All this makes Maeve want to run off by her self. Find her real mother. But she can't just leave Ronna behind. She did take care of her for 17 years. Lost her cushy job in the process too, saving her from those mysterious men in black chasing them. And aunt Eigyr knows something about the msyterious fractal wormholes of the bent. And the bent is where her real mother is.

Factually, this is all nonsense of course, it's definitely not the story you have written, but it's the information I had to fill in from the summary, that might be nice to have too: Why are people doing things? And what is stopping them?
 
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