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Successful Queries: Agent Scott Eagan and “Better Than T.V.”

Categories: Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents Blog, Successful Queries, Women's Fiction.

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 31st installment in this series is with agent Scott Eagan (Greyhaus Literary) and his author, Stephanie Stiles, for the women’s fiction novel, Take It Like a Mom.

“Take it Like a Mom” was originally
titled  “Better than T.V.”

 

Name: Stephanie Stiles
Email: [deleted]
Title of Manuscript: Better Than T.V.
Word Count: 75,000

Story Premise: Better Than T.V. is a short, humorous novel whose first-person narrator, Annie Fingardt Forster, recounts the various misadventures she experiences during the nine months of her second pregnancy.  In a self-effacing and wry voice, she describes her suburban world, her colorful loved ones, and her surprising antics as she prepares for the birth of her new baby.  As a stay-at-home mother of a three-year-old son, she turns the mundane events of domestic life into comical and outrageous escapades. Whether it’s a simple trip to the doctor’s office or an entangled stint working part-time as attorney for two of her friends, Annie’s tales are always filled with fun and insight.

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Additional Information: I am an English professor at Dominican College, where I chair the Department and direct the Creative Writing Program.  I’ve published poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction before, but this would be my first novel. I’d be an easy client, as I am eager to get this work published.  I hope you find that it is in keeping with what you’re looking for!

Commentary from Scott

Writers submitting proposals to Greyhaus Literary Agency can do so in three different formats. One method is an online form (fill in the blank). A lot of writers have found this one to be easier to do since they can avoid the pain and misery of writing that dreaded query.

Since opening Greyhaus, only two authors have caught me with their title and in both cases, I signed them (not simply because of the title). This short title certainly sets up the apparent humor in the story. With the blurb, there were several things that jumped out at me here. First of all, Stephanie did not try to overwhelm me with statements that wanted to make the story sound cute or funny. Too often, I have seen writers try this and in the end, all it does is turn me off. In this case, she sums it up in two simple sentences. “Annie Fingardt Forster, recounts the various misadventures she experiences during the nine months of her second pregnancy. In a self-effacing and wry voice, she describes her suburban world, her colorful loved ones, and her surprising antics as she prepares for the birth of her new baby.” Adding the words “misadventures”, “self-effacing” “colorful loved ones” and “surprising antics”, gives the reader a glimpse into the story understanding it is not simply a narrative on pregnancy, but clearly something much more.

The additional element that intrigued me about this project was her additional information she provided about the story. After first setting up the premise, she goes a bit deeper with the comment: “As a stay-at-home mother of a three-year-old son, she turns the mundane events of domestic life into comical and outrageous escapades.” At this point, I was able to immediately start picturing what potential events she would take on in the story. The simple combination of “mundane” and “three-year-old son” can only mean some great scenes.

In her bio, she really doesn’t have much to demonstrate in terms of novel writing. What she does, however, that works is the honesty about her background. She clearly uses her career as a force that shows she understands writing and she mentions briefly that she has done some other writing with short stories and poetry.

On December 29th, I signed this author. On the 11th of January, I sent out the proposal. The initial response from the phone calls showed editors had interest. On January 25th, an offer was made on the book!

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4 Responses to Successful Queries: Agent Scott Eagan and “Better Than T.V.”

  1. Scott Eagan says:

    Kristan,
    Glad I could help with this one. Honestly though, there still isn’t much of a difference other than the amount of information you put in the query. Your job is still to get me interested enough in a project to want to read more. In fact, I would have to say, using a form takes much more work considering you have limitations as to what you can include. You have to check certain boxes, you can’t give me additional information that might sell the book.

    I think the biggest thing to remember is that, whether it is a letter or a form, this is a sales pitch.

    Scott

  2. Nick Saw says:

    Whoops, I put "artist" instead of "novelist" in the link.

  3. Nick Saw says:

    This website is so helpful. I have a blog that plots me experiences in writing and provides links and tips to rising authors. I’ve linked this blog on there because it has been so helpful! Thanks for all the info.

  4. Kristan says:

    Haha, I love when she says: "I’d be an easy client, as I am eager to get this work published."

    True, and endearing. At least to me. Then again, I’m a sucker for honesty.

    Anyway, I also like this example of a successful "query" because it’s a form instead of the "dreaded" letter, but it still works! Maybe a sign that more agents could go to this system?

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