Oct 20, 2010

Query: BITCH (working title:)

Dear super agent,


Its what the kids in high school call Lilly Parker. Dumping Keegan Williams earned her the title, but now that he has fled his abusive stepfather and sought refuge at her house, she hopes to shake the label.

But there's a kink in every plan and Lilly's got a whole knot of them.

He mother turns traitor and offers Keegan a permanent place to stay against Lilly's protests.

Keegan's renewed presence ignites old passions, but why shouldn't it? She didn't break up with him because of him. She loved Keegan. It was his stepfather she couldn't handle. So she moved on.

Despite her new boyfriend's frequent disappearances for work, she's falling in love with him. Explaining why her ex is staying with her isn't going to be fun and avoiding it isn't possible. Or so she thinks.

For Lilly, problems don't just evaporate when her boyfriend leaves town and Keegan goes to live with his grandmother, they condense down to one kidnapper waiting for her in her bedroom.

Alone and scared and locked in a cage, she will do anything to get her complicated life back. Even if it means losing both of the boys she loves and tattooing the word BITCH on her forehead. Too bad for her, things are never that easy.

BITCH is a 60,000-word young adult paranormal romance novel and available upon request.

Thank you for you consideration.


this is very rough. Give me what you have to pick about. I appreciate suggestions for fixes. Thanks in advance.


Anonymous Author said...

Well, now, here is a good example of where we could try looking at the query from an agent's point of view. Bear in mind that a small but steady proportion of what arrives in her inbox is abuse from rejected writers.

She hits "open".

She reads:

"Dear Ms. So-and-so,


Does she read another word? You tell me.

Jodi Henry said...


I don't usually comment back to commenters but this one begs for it.

1)typical requested subject lines for queries are usually something like: the word query and the title of the book.

2)said agent will know its a query from the sub line as stated above and will also know that BITCH is the title because it is all caps as per query standard.

3)(working title) should have gotten you past the titling issue and let you focus on the rest of the problems in the query. If not you shouldn't have commented. It isn't helpful to know you soley disapprove of the title and nothing else. And that's the point of this blog. To be helpful, right?

But thanks for letting me respond to you so other people can get past the title.

Happy day


Rick Daley said...

Jodi- Try not to be offended. I think Anonymous Author made a valid point, the way you have this formatted BITCH could easily be misconstrued. As Anon suggested, try to imagine it in the perspecitve of an agent. One reading 50 queries in a row...an agent who has had numerous authors reply to rejections with great animosity.

Using all caps is proper form for a title, but it can also denote yelling. Look at the difference between:



BITCH is a 60,000-word young adult paranormal romance novel..

It's about the context (or lack thereof).

To move beyond that, I have a few questions after reading the query:

- If Keegan's stay at her house will help Lilly get past her moniker, why does she protest her mother's offer? Seems this would serve her well.

- I'm just confused with the kidnapping thing. Is this the heart of the story, and the relationships a sub-plot? If so, focus more on her dilemma and give us some frame of reference for the antagonist.

- You say it's a paranormal romance, but I don't see anything that makes it paranormal.

Queries are tough, and criticism is tougher. Wait until all the feedback is in, then try to find the common threads. You don't have to agree with what everyone says, but try to approach every piece of feedback with an open mind as you evaluate its merits.

Mesmerix said...

I have to say, the formatting of title directly after Dear so-and-so threw me off too. I also read it as insinuating I'm a bitch, even though I logically knew that wasn't the case. It's not the TITLE that's the problem, I'm all for calling a book BITCH, but the formatting of the query itself. And I think that was Anon's point, one I agree with.

Honestly, my biggest concern here is in the plot. The mother invites this runaway to stay with her, something that is illegal. If the step-father wants the kid back, he has to go back. Now if the step-father kicked the kid out, then obviously the kid staying with another family isn't a problem. I think you should clarify that the kid has been kicked out.

I also find it difficult to believe that she loves this boy but doesn't want him to stay. I'm also further amazed that the mother says, "Yes, ex-boyfriend, live here with my teenage daughter."

There has to be something more going on that you could clarify the motivations here.

I see you have genre as paranormal romance, but I don't see anything paranormal. Did I miss it?

Also, the kidnapper thing comes out of left field. Is that the actual plot? Or is her development with Keegan the plot? I'm confused. Pare down and focus on one. If the kidnapper is the plot, drop all the backstory stuff about Keegan and simply sum up her screwed up life in a few sentences. If Keegan is the plot, focus only on the romance.

All in all, the query leaves me feeling confused. Sounds like you have an interesting base, but I think you need to pare down and focus on one character, one conflict, and go from there.

best of luck to you!