Skip to main content

Successful Queries: Agent Michelle Brower and 'Breathers'

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 sixth installment in this series is with agent Michelle Brower (Folio Literary Management, formerly of Wendy Sherman Associates) and her author Scott Browne, for his novel, Breathers.

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 sixth installment in this series is with agent Michelle Brower (Folio Literary Management, formerly of Wendy Sherman Associates) and her author Scott Browne, for his novel, Breathers.

Image placeholder title

Dear Michelle Brower:

“I spent two days in a cage at the SPCA until my parents finally came to pick me up. The stigma of bringing your undead son home to live with you can wreak havoc on your social status, so I can’t exactly blame my parents for not rushing out to claim me. But one more day and I would have been donated to a research facility.”

Andy Warner is a zombie.

After reanimating from a car accident that killed his wife, Andy is resented by his parents, abandoned by his friends, and vilified by society. Seeking comfort and camaraderie in Undead Anonymous, a support group for zombies, Andy finds kindred souls in Rita, a recent suicide who has a taste for consuming formaldehyde in cosmetic products, and Jerry, a twenty-one-year-old car crash victim with an artistic flair for Renaissance pornography.

With the help of his new friends and a rogue zombie named Ray, Andy embarks on a journey of personal freedom and self-discovery that will take him from his own casket to the SPCA to a media-driven, class-action lawsuit for the civil rights of all zombies. And along the way, he’ll even devour a few Breathers.

Breathers is a contemporary dark comedy about life, or undeath, through the eyes of an ordinary zombie. In addition to Breathers, I’ve written three other novels and more than four dozen short stories – a dozen of which have appeared in small press publications. Currently, I’m working on my fifth novel, also a dark comedy, about Fate.

Enclosed is a two-page synopsis and the first chapter of Breathers, with additional sample chapters or the entire manuscript available upon request. I appreciate your time and interest in considering my query and I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,
Scott G. Browne

Commentary from Michelle:

What really drew me to this query was the fact that it had exactly what I'm looking for in my commercial fiction - story and style. Scott included a brief quote from the book that managed to capture his sense of humor as an author and his uniquely relatable main character (hard to do with someone who's recently reanimated).

The letter quickly conveyed that this was an unusual book about zombies, and being a fan of zombie literature, I was aware that it seemed like it was taking things in a new direction. I also appreciated how Scott conveyed the main conflict of his plot and his supporting cast of characters - we know there is an issue for Andy beyond coming back to life as a zombie, and that provides momentum for the story.

I think this is a great example of how query letters can break the rules and still stand out in the slush pile. I normally don’t like quotes as the first line, because I don’t have a context for them, but this quote both sets up the main conceit of the book AND gives me a sense of the character's voice. This method won’t necessarily work for most fiction, but it absolutely was successful here.

Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers Conferences:

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 2.57.50 PM

The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.

6 Things Every Writer Should Know About Sylvia Beach and Shakespeare and Company

6 Things Every Writer Should Know About Sylvia Beach and Shakespeare and Company

Sylvia Beach was friend to many writers who wrote what we consider classics today. Here, author Kerri Maher shares six things everyone should know about her and Shakespeare and Company.

How Writers Can Apply Business Tools to Their Writing

How Writers Can Apply Business Tools to Their Writing

Author Katherine Quevedo takes an analytical look at the creative process in hopes to help other writers find writing success.

Nick Petrie: On Following the Most Compelling Story

Nick Petrie: On Following the Most Compelling Story

Award-winning author Nick Petrie discusses how he listened to the story that wanted to be told in his new Peter Ash thriller novel, The Runaway.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 596

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a punishment poem.

Jacquelyn Mitchard: On Forgiveness in Fiction

Jacquelyn Mitchard: On Forgiveness in Fiction

Award-winning novelist Jacquelyn Mitchard discusses the chance meeting that led to her new novel, The Good Son.

Sea Bound

Sea Bound

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, write about someone connected to the sea.

writersMarket_wd-ad_1000x300 (1)

Get Published With the Latest Market Books Editions

Get published and find more success with your writing by using the latest editions of the Market Books, including Writer's Market, Poet's Market, Guide to Literary Agents, and more!

Michigan Quarterly Review: Market Spotlight

Michigan Quarterly Review: Market Spotlight

For this week's market spotlight, we look at Michigan Quarterly Review, the flagship literary journal of the University of Michigan.

Desperate vs. Disparate (Grammar Rules)

Desperate vs. Disparate (Grammar Rules)

This post looks at the differences between desperate and disparate with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.