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  1. #1
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    QUERY for YA Novel

    I already queried at least one hundred agents about this novel and most sent back rejection emails. I figured there was a problem with the query so I completely rewrote it. How does my revamped query sound?

    Dear [agent name],

    Ask anyone about 16 year-old Krista Beakly and they will tell you that she is the most sex-crazed girl in Aspen, CO. But they’ll also mention that she is the most popular girl because of her gorgeous looks, the teen clothing store that her parents own, and because she throws the best parties. Unfortunately for Krista she must pack up her Louis Vuitton handbags, Gucci shades, and her closet full of clothes and move to Orlando, FL with her parents; after she is brought home by a police officer after midnight when he catches her naked in the car with a guy.

    At her new school Krista can’t keep her eyes off of Bolton Stone. He is a pretty boy, drives an Aston Martin, and is the heir to a chain of fashion outlets––-sounds like the perfect guy for Krista right? Wrong. Matt Jacobs offers something to Krista that she can’t get anywhere else; good sex. That good sex however leads to a lot of problems for Krista.

    She is blackmailed by the school’s two head cheerleaders after they overhear her and Matt having sex in the student parking lot. Then Bonnie, Matt’s super hot ex-girlfriend moves back to town. But he likes Krista so that’s not a problem right? Wrong. Bonnie is a Protégé, and she has the power to read and control people’s minds; which she uses to manipulate and embarrass Krista.

    Krista soon finds out about Bonnie’s powers and that she using them to make Matt fall in love with her, and have her baby so that he will never leave her. With help from Bolton, Krista sets out to stop Bonnie while she is in the act of trying to conceive a child with Matt and things get ugly.

    THE WORLD ACCORDING TO KRISTA is a complete 41,000-word young adult novel with a cocktail of fashion, sex, and partying. It truly reads through the eyes of a popular teenage girl from Aspen, Colorado and incorporates text messaging and other teen lingo. It will engage YA readers of novels such as The Twilight Saga and Gossip Girls. THE WORLD ACCORDING TO KRISTA has series potential and could very easily be adapted into a film.

    Thank you for taking the time to consider THE WORLD ACCORDING TO KRISTA.


    Sincerely,

    MY NAME



  2. #2
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    Hey Dustin, I am just another writer, not an agent or book editor, but based on my experience, there are a few things that need fixing.

    Queries need to be short and sweet. Just a paragraph-long hook and a few technical specifics of the book (word count, title, genre). That's it. Below is what I envision your story is about and how the query might look. The key to the hook is introducing conflict (Krista moves away from Aspen) and a new goal (she wants to go back to Aspen). I took some liberties to make it fit together.

    Dear Agent,

    Krista loses her throne as Aspen's town slut when her parents' fashion store goes bankrupt, forcing them to move from Colorado to shack up with family living Florida. Determined to find a way back to Aspen, Krista rebuilds her sex-crazed reputation to make rich allies at Orlando High School. Her antics stir up the ire of Bonnie, a Protege with powerful telepathic abilities, who makes evil plans for Krista's favorite bed mate, Matt. Will Krista save Matt and keep the best S-E-X she's ever had? Or will she flee back to Aspen with her wealthiest boy toy, Bolton Stone? Find out in THE WORLD ACCORDING TO KRISTA, a (word count)-word YA novel written for fans of YA fiction like The Twilight Saga and Gossip Girls.

    A full manuscript is available for your review. Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Sincerely,


    Things that jumped out at me: Your original query was way too long. Think about your title, too. There are quite a few media with THE WORLD ACCORDING TO... in the title. Consider trying something different. Also, I spotted at least one punctuation error. The query will communicate to an agent the quality of your actual manuscript, so there should be NO errors in the query or ms. You will also need to write a synopsis of the entire, finished manuscript - the synopsis should be no more than 4,000 words in length.

    Also, novels are literary works of 50,000 words or longer. I'm pretty sure a 40k word ms would be considered novella material. You will need to beef up your word count, or they'll flat out reject you based on length. I was rejected many times on my first ms, a 120k-word (what I thought was at the time was a well-edited-it-wasn't) novel, and one rejecting agent made a note, telling me that if I'm a first-time author looking to get published, I ought to be shooting for 70k-75k words.

    Hope this helps.

    --Andrew

  3. #3
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    Dustin,

    You've got some great elements in here and a lot happens, but I get done reading this Q and ask, "What's the plot?" You've written, "...novel with a cocktail or fashion, sex, and partying," and that's all I'm getting from this Q. I don't see a character arc for Krista. I thought you were setting one up with K being shallow and starved for male attention, but that didn't go anywhere. At the end of the Q, she's just moved and is shallow and sex obsessed in a new place with new people. Character arc? This is sort of the basis of most stories and you didn't show us one here.

    I could go into smaller issues, but I think it would be better for you to come up with a draft that nails the plot/character arc before worrying about the little stuff. I'm in no way saying that the Q should read like a plot summary, but we do need to get a sense of what's important, what's wrong with Krista, what change she has to deal with, what she risks if she fail, and gains if she suceeds.

    Hope this helps.

  4. #4
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    The first half of your query reads like your average suburban teenage sex romp--super-hot babes, cool dudes driving Aston Martins, porking in the parking lot, blackmail. Who needs story with all that happening, right? Then, plot twist of plot twists, you bring in a mind-reading, mind-bending Protégé? Dude! Forget the novel, take this straight to Fox TV! Truly!

    Or you could scrap the whole thing and follow CK's advice. That's if your story contains anything remotely resembling a character arc, which from what you've posted, I fear it does not.

  5. #5
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    Thank you all for your advice. As far as the Character arc i admit that the character does not go through a change in the story, but the other male characters Bolton and Matt do. She changes them and makes them both better people.

    I now see that the query was too long and that I have some more revising to do. But is it true that a YA novel has to be 50,000 words? I was told it has to be 40,000, and no agent has told me no based on the word count.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Avonne Writer's Avatar
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    Dustin, actually, 50k is on the short side. 50k would be about right for MG. A lot of the YA novels I read are about 85-90k. Some longer, and a few of the Younger Adult (as in MG crossover) are around the 55-60k range.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Diane Theron's Avatar
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    Andrew - great rewrite there!

  8. #8
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    Thank you, Diane.

    --Andrew

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