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Successful Queries: Agent Kristin Nelson and 'Proof by Seduction'

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 22nd installment in this series is with agent Kristin Nelson (Nelson Literary) and her author, Courtney Milan, for her book, Proof by Seduction, a historical romance.

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 22nd installment in this series is with agent Kristin Nelson (Nelson Literary) and her author, Courtney Milan, for her book, Proof by Seduction, a historical romance.

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Buy "Proof by Seduction"

Dear Ms. Megibow:

I met Ms. Nelson this last weekend at a pitch appointment at the Chicago Spring Fling conference. She had spoken with Sherry Thomas earlier about my historical romance, Proof by Seduction. Ms. Nelson asked me to send you the full, which is now attached.

As one of London's premier fortune tellers, Jenny Keeble knows all about lies. After all, the fastest way to make money is to tell people what they want to hear. It works—until Gareth Carhart, the Marquess of Blakely, vows to prove what he and Jenny both know: that Jenny is a fraud.

Gareth only wants to extricate his naïve young cousin and heir from an unhealthy influence. The last thing the rigidly scientific marquis expects is his visceral reaction to the intelligent, tenacious, and—as revealed by a wardrobe malfunction—very desirable fortune teller. But she enrages him. She tempts him. She causes him to lose his head entirely and offer a prediction of his own: He'll have her in bed before the month is out. The battle lines are drawn. Jenny can't lose her livelihood, Gareth won't abandon logic, and neither is prepared to accept love.

I am a finalist in Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart competition for unpublished romance. I currently work as a lawyer … My romance writing interests may seem rather different from my daily writing, where I focus on law issues. But all good lawyers are, at heart, just storytellers, and I find the two writing practices balance each other.Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions, and thank you for taking the time to consider my manuscript.

Sincerely,
Courtney Milan

Commentary from Kristin

Okay, at first I thought the whole fortune teller angle was a little contrived, but she puts a different spin on it with her insight of how well it works in terms of telling people what they want to hear. It struck me right away that this author might be using this plot set up for a different purpose. I was right.

I’m completely won over by the time I read the second pitch paragraph. Courtney does a great job of outlining the opening plot catalyst that launches the story (removing the heir from her clutches), of giving character insight (rigidly scientific marquis), and adding an amusing touch with the wardrobe malfunction line. I sense this work is going to be witty and it doesn’t disappoint.The crux of the conflict neatly explained. Also, her use of the words “enrages,” and “tempts” leads me to think it will be sexy and I kind of like that in historicals.

I requested the full manuscript right then and there. This novel plus a second book sold for six figures to Harlequin at auction. (By the way, I deleted some bio information in the query at Courtney's request.)

Ready to send out your query? Get a critique!

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Are you done writing and revising your manuscript or nonfiction book proposal? Then you’re ready to write a query letter. In order to ensure you make the best impression on literary agents and acquisitions editors, we recommend getting a 2nd Draft Query Letter Critique.

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