Apr 26, 2010

Query- The History of the Tie Dye Bra and Other Lessons in Me (Revised)

Click here to read the original query.

Dear Agent:

Jaclyn Witt is going to live the rest of her life with the man of her dreams. If only he’d ask her out and her karma would cooperate. The History of the Tie Dye Bra and Other Lessons in Me chronicles the coming-of-age of quirky heroine Jackie Witt, who navigates adolescence with off-beat humor and three unlikely best friends.

There is a reason that Chelsea’s mom nicknamed Jackie, Chelsea, Frankie and Joe
“a strange little family.” They are inseparable, committed to each other despite their differences. Their friendship provides something each of them craves.

For Jackie, it’s an appreciation of her unique outlook on life, from her obsession with game shows, to her infamous drunk dancing episodes, and even for her quest to find the perfect man through an ever-growing list of boyfriend rules. For Frankie, it means protection from the hippie parents who see her love of beef and opposition to marijuana use as a sign of their failure. For Chelsea, it’s an understanding of the vulnerability behind the flirt who declares premarital sex as her college major to finagle free drinks in bars. But what about Joe? Is it about getting attention that was missing in a household focused on his brother’s drug addiction? Or is there something more to Joe’s dedication to his strange little family?

The story takes us from childhood exploits to the end of college, where Jackie finally meets her soul mate. When her friends’ meddling jeopardizes their budding romance, Jackie makes a decision that threatens to destroy her strange little family. So, will the funny foursome go their separate ways, or prevail to protect each other’s frailties and friendship?

I am seeking representation for my first novel, a 50,000-word, humorous YA romance that uses Rachel’s witty narrative to tear at the heart and mend the soul. I read that you were an agent with an interest in YA and romance novels who welcomes first-time authors with a unique voice and humorous perspective, which would make you the perfect fit for this book.

Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work. I look forward to hearing from you.


Thanks to all the great comments I got yesterday, I was able to improve my query. Here's revision #1. Any thoughts?
PS Thanks everyone and especially Rick Daley for this great site!


Suzan Harden said...


First of all this version clocks in at 357 words, i.e wa-a-y to long.

Shorten the title. You've got a great, quirky title in The History of the Tie Dye Bra. The rest sounds like filler.

Scrap the entire third paragraph. You need to focus on one protagonist. Example: Main protagonist in Sex & the City is Carrie Bradshaw, even though her three friends are important characters.

In the first paragraph, again you're telling me this story has off-beat humor, but there's no humor in the query. Also, you start off calling Jackie Jaclyn. Stick with one form of her name all the way through the query.

What specific things do Jackie's friends do to sabtage her relationship and why? What does Jackie do in retaliation? What choice does Jackie have to make?

Paragraph 5 uses way too many words. You want to keep this short and sweet. Use those extra words for the plot. Ex: The History of the Tie Dye Bra is a 50,000-word YA. I read in (name the article, blog, whatever) you
represent YA. PLEASE, PLEASE don't say 'make you the perfect fit for this book.' That phrasing comes across as rather arrogant.

And honestly, if Jackie and company are in college before the end of the book, I don't think it's considered YA, but more women's fiction.

Cut, cut, cut. If you've written a short, pithy book, you want a short, pithy query to reflect that.

Take your time with writing a query. I don't mean agonizing for months. But take the feedback you get, sit back and mull over it a couple of days before trying the next draft.

I strongly suggest reading Janet Reid's Query Shark blog for some examples of query writing.


Genevieve Wilson said...

I agree you should trim about 100 words off, but I think there's quite a bit of humor in this, and I think it's in the third paragraph. Yes, Sex and the City is about Carrie Bradshaw, but her life wouldn't be as interesting if her friends weren't in it. All I know is if there's a story with a woman who claims pre-martial sex as her college major, then I'd like to know about her. And if the friends aren't introduced, then why should we care about Jackie's dilemma regarding them?

I think you could trim the third paragraph, but I think the writing in it shows us the humor, the off-beat and the quirky so that you don't have to tell us about it. I would remove all the adjectives and most of the last paragraph and trim the first three paragraphs.

But that's just me. LOL