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 16th installment in this series is with agent Elisabeth Weed (Weed Literary) and her author, Therese Walsh, for her book, The Last Will of Moira Leahy.
Dear Ms. Weed,
Allison Winn Scotch e-mailed me just a bit ago to say you'd be interested in hearing more about my manuscript. I'm thrilled for the opportunity, as Allison raves about you and I believe your agency would be a perfect fit for my work.
Weed Literary is looking for inventive storytelling. The Last Will of Moira Leahy is a 100,000 word commercial rite-of-passage tale about death, identity and acceptance, told through the eyes of twin sisters and woven with a fascinating mythology in the vein of Louise Erdrich's The Painted Drum. You're also seeking provocative fiction with a dash of humor. Though 9 out of 10 women cry when they read this story, they'll also laugh a lot.Former musical prodigy Maeve Leahy has bound herself to the timeout chair of life. Though a decade has passed since losing her twin, Maeve's nightmares and musical hallucinations persist, and she still sees Moira's face whenever she looks in the mirror. It doesn't help that her mother shuns her, her best friend worries for her sanity, and her not-quite boyfriend leaves the country. When she finds a wavy dagger called a keris one night at auction, she recalls her carefree childhood and playing pirate on the Atlantic with her twin. She wins the blade, and its hidden consequences. Anonymous notes about the keris soon appear, rekindling her adventurous spirit. As she uncovers the blade's secrets, she may learn to embrace music, love and her reflection again, but will she be able to endure the cost?
The Javanese keris is a weapon with a documented history of effect, including the ability to decrease inhibitions, foretell the future, and more. The Last Will of Moira Leahydraws upon this rich lore as the story unfolds, but leaves the reader with the choice-to believe or not in an extraordinary possibility.I have a master's degree in psychology and am an award-winning researcher. I'm a published nonfiction author with hundreds of articles in America's foremost health magazines and online health sites. I'm also the co-founder of Writer Unboxed, a popular genre fiction site.
I'd love to send you The Last Will of Moira Leahy if you think we'd be a good match. I appreciate your time and look forward to your response.
Commentary from Elisabeth:
Let me start by saying that I've had a good laugh, rereading my original correspondence with Therese Walsh. She sent this query to me on May 22 - fifteen days after my son was born. I requested the first 50 pages a few days later and on June 10th asked her to mail me the entire novel (prior to my kindle purchase.) On June 18, I e-mailed, and I quote,
"I am so totally madly in love with your novel!" I am still in shock that Teri decided to sign with ME for not being able to come up with praise that was a little more nuanced, but my point to any writer reading this is that we agents are desperate for quality fiction. We will read it on zero sleep with newborns in tow and send inarticulate emails of unadulterated enthusiasm to authors when we really do fall "totally madly in love." Okay, now, in all seriousness, it did help that another author of mine had called me to see if I'd be open to hearing about Therese's book. There is no question that I responded faster because of that connection. And of course, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that Allison's kind words didn't put me in a good frame of mind. So don't be shy about complimenting the agents that you are querying. That said, I would have requested this regardless because the book just sounded so good! Teri managed to capture the moodiness of her novel in 3 concise paragraphs, and lucky for me, delivered on that promise in her pages. I actually ended up using "Former musical prodigy, Maeve...." until the end of her query as the basis of my pitch letter to editors. (Teri's book sold at auction in a pre-emptive major deal to Shaye Areheart for two books!)
I was also impressed with Teri's fiction site, Writer Unboxed. It's a beautifully designed and wonderfully help
ful site for authors that she co-founded, and it was clear, from a cursory glance, had put her heart and soul into. In other words, I could tell this was an author with a passion for writing and for books. Finally, on the more business side of things, she also queried me around the time that books with elements of magic were catching on and even though "Javanese keris" and" fascinating mythology" weren't, at first glance, exactly what I was looking for in a book, the atmosphere of the world she described piqued my own growing interest in finding more books that flirted with the supernatural.
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