Successful Queries: Agent Mary Sue Seymour and ‘A Widow’s Hope’

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 ninth installment in this series is with agent Mary Sue Seymour (The Seymour Agency) and her author, Mary Ellis, for her book, A Widow’s Hope.

A Widow’s Hope

Dear Ms. Seymour:

Although I was unable to attend this year’s ACFW conference, I studied the list of agents who had participated. I was excited to see your name among the attendees since I’d heard many wonderful things about your agency. I have taken the liberty of enclosing the synopsis and first three chapters of A Widow’s Hope with my fondest hope you will select it for representation. A Widow’s Hope is a 95,000-word Christian Inspirational set in Holmes County, Ohio, the largest Amish community in the country.

After the death of her husband, Hannah Brown is determined to make a new life with her sister’s family. But when she sells her farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and moves with her sheep to Ohio, the wool unexpectedly starts to fly. Her deacon brother–in–law finds just about everything about Hannah vexing. When his widower brother shows interest in the young and beautiful widow, the deacon turns to prayer for guidance.

Hannah thought she could never love again, until she meets the strong, gentle farmer. Unfortunately, Seth Miller’s only interest is in Hannah’s sheep. He is content in his bachelor state and slow to recognize his daughter’s need for a new mother. Yet God offers Seth the perfect solution to their problems if he could only open his heart again … and love.

My two previous manuscripts placed in the “Labor of Love” contest, sponsored by the Heart of Louisiana chapter, Baton Rouge, and the “Hot Prospects” contest sponsored by Valley of the Sun chapter, both chapters of RWA. I am a former middle school teacher, currently working in marketing and sales. I have spent many weeks and weekends in Holmes County, researching and enjoying the simpler way of life. I am currently working on the second in the series.
If you’d like to see the full manuscript, please contact me at the above address. It would be my pleasure to send A Widow’s Hope immediately. Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.


Mary Ellis

Commentary From Mary Sue

Mary Ellis actually went to my site to see which conferences I attend and that caught my attention right off the bat.  She did research and had a reason for querying me rather than just sending out e-mails to every agent online.

Her pitch – the two middle paragraphs – worked well.  The plot intrigued me.  Everything was presented – the protagonist, the challenges, the conflict.  Christian inspirational is a genre I represent often, and this was a good summary in a category that I like.

She mentioned contests she’d placed in so I knew her writing had potential.  The awards were mentioned briefly and humbly without much hurrah or details, which is exactly the way to do it.

Finally, she was wise enough to complete the book beforehand and say so in the letter.  You’d be surprised how many first-time authors don’t finish (and polish!) their work before sending it out.

Requesting the full manuscript was a no-brainer for me – and I’m glad I did.


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