Successful Queries: Agent Elisabeth Weed and ‘The Department of Lost & Found’

This new series is called “Successful Queries”and I’m posting actual query letters that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents.  In addition to posting the actual query letter, we will also get to hear thoughts from the agent as to why the letter worked. 

The 12th installment in this series is with agent Elisabeth Weed (Weed Literary) and her author, Allison Winn Scotch, for her women’s fiction book, The Department of Lost & Found.



Dear Ms. Weed:
Natalie Miller had a plan. She had a goddamn plan. Top of her class at Dartmouth. Even better at Yale Law. Youngest aide ever to the powerful Senator Claire Dupris. Higher, faster, stronger. This? Was all part of the plan. True, she was so busy ascending the political ladder that she rarely had time to sniff around her mediocre relationship with Ned, who fit the three Bs to the max: basic, blond and boring, and she definitely didn’t have time to mourn her mangled relationship with Jake, her budding rock star ex-boyfriend.

The lump in her right breast that Ned discovers during brain-numbingly bland morning sex? That? Was most definitely not part of the plan. And Stage IIIA breast cancer? Never once had Natalie jotted this down on her to-do list for conquering the world. When her (tiny-penised) boyfriend has the audacity to dump her on the day after her diagnosis, Natalie’s entire world dissolves into a tornado of upheaval, and she’s left with

nothing but her diary to her ex-boyfriends, her mornings lingering over the Price is Right, her burnt out stubs of pot which carry her past the chemo pain, and finally, the weight of her life choices – the ones in which she might drown if she doesn’t find a buoy.The Department of Lost and Found is a story of hope, of resolve, of digging deeper than you thought possible until you find the strength not to crumble, and ultimately, of making your own luck, even when you’ve been dealt an unsteady hand.

I’m a freelance writer and have contributed to, among others, American Baby, American Way, Arthritis Today, Bride’s, Cooking Light, Fitness, Glamour, InStyle Weddings, Lifetime Television, Men’s Edge, Men’s Fitness, Men’s Health, Parenting, Parents, Prevention, Redbook, Self, Shape, Sly, Stuff, USA Weekend, Weight Watchers, Woman’s Day, Women’s Health, and ivillage.com, msn.com, and women.com. I also ghostwrote The Knot Book of Wedding Flowers.

If you are interested, I’d love to send you the completed manuscript.  Thanks so much! Looking forward to speaki

ng with you soon.AllisonCommentary From Elisabeth:

Allison’s query grabbed me right off the bat.  The opening sentence reads like great jacket copy and I immediately know who our protagonist is and what the conflict for her will be.  And, it’s funny, without being silly.  I also really loved the third paragraph because it tells me where this book will land: up-market women’s fiction.  A great place to be these days!

The other thing that jumped out for me was Allison’s previous credentials.  While being able to write nonfiction does not necessarily translate over to fiction, it showed me that she was someone worth paying more attention to. And her magazine contacts helped when it came time to publicize the book.  That said,  I would have asked to see the book without that last paragraph, but it did indicate to me that she was someone who was serious about writing.

I ended up requesting the book and readin

g the first 100 pages that very night, e-mailing Allison that I loved what I’d read and was planning on finishing the next day. (This of course before I had a baby. My response time has sadly slowed a bit in the last year.) I signed her up, and, if memory serves, we sent the novel out within a month and sold it at auction.

Her latest novel, Time of My Life, just came out in paperback and explores all of our lingering what-ifs by sending her protagonist back to redo her life. If you are looking for a great book, I highly recommend it. (And of course I am not at all biased!) But for the sake of Chuck’s fabulous blog, it is exactly the kind of fiction I would love to sell more of, so if you have something in this vein, please be in touch.

Time of My Life is
available in paperback.
 

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One thought on “Successful Queries: Agent Elisabeth Weed and ‘The Department of Lost & Found’

  1. Nina

    I loved that query. A few sentences I had to read twice.

    This is weird because just yesterday I was in Barnes and Noble and picked up Time of My Life. The back cover synopsis really grabbed me. This morning I was on the Writer’s Market site and saw the link to this blog and there the book is again. I can’t wait to read it!

    N.

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