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 58th installment in this series is with agent Sara Megibow (Nelson Literary) for Tiffany Reisz’s contemporary erotic romance, THE SIREN (Harequin Mira, out in paperback July 2012). Purchase the book here. You can find Tiffany Reisz online at her website, and on Twitter.
Dear Ms. Megibow,
THE SIREN is a modern-day retelling of “My Fair Lady” with uptight English literary fiction editor Zachary Easton as an unwilling Professor Higgins and well-known wild child Nora Sutherlin as his erotica-writing Eliza Doolittle. Zach only has six weeks left at Royal House New York before he heads to Los Angeles to take over as Chief Managing Editor at Royal West. When his boss orders him to help Nora Sutherlin rewrite her latest novel, Zach agrees to work with her only if he is given complete control over the fate of her book. If Nora doesn’t rewrite it to his satisfaction in six weeks, Royal won’t publish it.
Zach calls Nora a “guttersnipe writer,” but she’s not your typical guttersnipe. Her personal life is as torrid as her prose and unbeknownst to Zach, her books aren’t her only source of income. Nora is determined to prove Zach wrong, to prove she’s a real writer worthy of his respect. But her good intentions are complicated by her volatile relationship with her virginal nineteen-year-old roommate Wesley and her inability to completely leave her dangerous former lover Søren in the past. Desperate to win Zach’s good opinion of her, Nora keeps her “other job” a secret from him fearing that if he finds out she’s the Underground’s most famous dominatrix he won’t be able to see her as anything other than a sex worker.
The clock is ticking. Nora has six weeks and five hundred pages to rewrite. Will she be able to keep her focus and prove she’s a professional writer? Or will she pick the business of pleasure over the business of writing? As the work on her book progresses, Zach and Nora forge a tenuous truce that turns into friendship and intense attraction. Still grieving his broken marriage, Zach is slow to trust Nora. When he discovers the secrets she’s been keeping from him, will Zach be able to forgive her and sign her contract? Or will he send her back to the gutter where he found her?
Thank you for your time and consideration, Ms. Megibow.
COMMENTARY FROM SARA
THE SIREN is one of the sales that I am most proud of in my agenting career. Here’s why: If someone had walked up to me in January 2010 and said, “Sara, do you think this can sell a book about an author, an editor, a Catholic priest, an almost-underage boy AND an underage boy and a Dominatrix?” I would have said “ARG, Ummmmm, No.” But, I requested THE SIREN from Tiffany because this query letter is just so compelling – it’s clean, concise, interesting and very very very well-written. I know it sounds trite to writers who are knocking down the slush pile door, but superior writing really does trump all. You’ll notice that there is not one extraneous word in the query letter below – it’s spot on in terms of characterization, voice, plot, world, etc. Perfect!
THE SIREN went on submission in June and we had an offer from the fabulous Susan Swinwood of Harlequin by September. It ended up not being a tough sell because Susan “got” the book just like I did. Tiffany writes super-sexy, slightly (well let’s be honest, MOSTLY) controversial, contemporary books that will absolutely blow readers away with outstanding writing, delicious dialogue and incredibly sexy scenes.
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Other writing/publishing articles and links for you:
- 7 Things Agents Want to See in a Query (and 9 They Don’t).
- How to Write a Query Letter.
- The 5 Stages of the Query Process.
- How to Trim Your Query Down to 250 Words of Fewer.
- Sell More Books by Building Your Writer Platform.
- Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter.
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