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.
Author:
Publish date:

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.

plot_twist_story_prompts_dream_sequence_robert_lee_brewer

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Dream Sequence

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let your characters dream a little dream.

WD Vintage_Armour 12:03

Vintage WD: Don't Hide Your Light Verse Under a Bushel

In this article from 1960, poet and author Richard Armour explores the importance of light verse and gives helpful hints to the hopeful poet.

Arlen_12:1

Tessa Arlen: On Polite Editorial Tussles and Unraveling Mysteries

In this article, author Tessa Arlen explains how to navigate the differences between American and English audiences and create a realistic historical mystery.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 547

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 lazy poem.

Williams_12:1

Denise Williams: Romance, Healing, and Learning to Love Revisions

Author Denise Williams recounts her experience with writing her first book while learning about the publishing industry and the biggest surprise about novel revisions.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Next Steps

Here are the final steps for the 13th annual November PAD Chapbook Challenge! Use December and the beginning of January to revise and collect your poems into a chapbook manuscript. Here are some tips and guidelines.

shook_vs_shaked_vs_shaken_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Shook vs. Shaked vs. Shaken (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use shook vs. shaked vs. shaken on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 30

For the 2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets write a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write an exit poem.