This 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 51st installment in this series is with agent Jennifer Schober (Spencerhill Associates, Ltd.) for her author, Kristina McMorris, for the novel, Letters From Home (Feb. 2011)—a book Publishers Weekly called “Ambitious and compelling…[a] sweeping debut novel;” while RT Book Reviews said “Letters From Home is a beautifully told story.”
Dear Ms. Schober,
Jane Porter referred me to you and your agency. As a 2007 and 2008 RWA Golden Heart finalist, I am seeking representation for my novel. (Please see attached sample chapters.)
LETTERS FROM HOME is a 90,000-word WWII love story with a twist, aptly summarized as The Notebook meets Saving Private Ryan. Original Film (producer of Made of Honor, Vantage Point) has expressed interest in optioning the film rights, an avenue I look forward to exploring upon securing new representation. I understand you are a fan of both historical and women’s fiction, and therefore believe your agency would be a great fit.
Set against the emotionally charged backdrop of World War II, poetic university student Liz Stephens falls deeply in love through a yearlong letter exchange with infantryman Morgan McClain. Equally enamored, the Midwest soldier stationed in Europe relies solely on their correspondence to survive the gruesome realities of war. Yet between the scrawled lines of familial hardships and heartrending tragedies lies the one secret Liz must keep, or risk losing everyone she holds dear. As the nation nears victory, each will learn the price of freedom while uncovering the deceptions of love and war.
LETTERS FROM HOME is a story inspired by my grandparents’ epistolary courtship. I have already garnered blurbs for the manuscript from such notables as New York Times bestselling author James Pratt, screenwriter Mike Rich (Finding Forrester, The Rookie), and the Honorable Lynn “Buck” Compton (author and famed WWII veteran from Band of Brothers).
From 2001-2008, I was the host and a writer for the WB’s weekly television program “Weddings Portland Style.” I have been a PR/Marketing Director for ten years and a freelance contributor to Portland Bride & Groom Magazine. In addition, I actively work with multi-published critique partners and am a member of several writers’ organizations. More information is available at kristinamcmorris.com.
Upon your request, I would be happy to provide the complete manuscript. I appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Kristina Y. McMorris
Commentary from Jennifer
Kristina got my attention right off the bat. She used a referral by a much-loved client of ours, Jane Porter. I always give special attention to referrals by our own clients; I trust their judgment. If a client of the agency has referred you, or another author with some clout, don’t be shy—with permission use their name in a referral! Sing it from the rooftops, people! It’s worth it, as it could mean an automatic request for the material.
Other specifics agents really like to know upfront are contest wins. Kristina mentioned that she was a two-time finalist in the RWA Golden Heart contest. Excellent move—even though she was not a winner, this is one of the contests I hold in high esteem—it’s an honor to be nominated. Lesser-known contests aren’t as important to me, but if you have won, tout it!
Next, Kristina pitched her work. She summarized her book, LETTERS FROM HOME, as THE NOTEBOOK meets SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. The combination was daring and intriguing. This creative tag line engaged my mind and got my imagination going. Next, she mentioned film interest … Already? Wow.
Kristina’s pitch was all about selling me the story, and it worked. She kept it short, dynamic, and focused on the emotional conflict that was central to the book. She closed with a bit of biographical information that tied her own life and ancestry to the work. Kristina hit it out of the park for me in relating her own life experience to the inspiration for the story. It told me her heart was in this book and that she held a very personal stake in its success. Plus, it’s just so cool!