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 21st installment in this series is with agent Mollie Glick (Foundry Literary + Media) and her author, Doreen Orion, for her book, Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own.
This query excerpted from the 2010 Guide to Literary Agents. If you buy the book, you can enjoy Mollie Glick's awesome advice on writing a great query letter.
Dear Ms. Glick:
I am a psychiatrist, published author, and expert for the national media seeking representation for my memoir titled, Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own. Because you are interested in unique voices, I thought we might be a good match.
When Tim first announced he wanted to “chuck it all” and travel around the country in a converted bus for a year, I gave this profound and potentially life-altering notion all the thoughtful consideration it deserved. “Why can’t you be like a normal husband with a midlife crisis and have an affair or buy a Corvette?” I asked, adding, “I will never, ever, EVER live on a bus.”
What do you get when you cram married shrinks—one in a midlife crisis, the other his materialistic, wise-cracking wife—two cats who hate each other and a Standard Poodle who loves licking them all, into a bus for a year? Queen of the Road is a memoir of my dysfunctional, multi-species family’s travels to and travails in the 49 continental states. (Tim insisted on seeing them all, despite my assurances that there were a few we could skip.)
As a psychiatrist, award-winning author (I Know You Really Love Me, Macmillan/Dell) and frequent media expert on psychiatric topics, (including Larry King, GMA, 48 Hours, The New York Times and People Magazine), my life has centered on introspection, analysis and storytelling. Yet, I count among my greatest accomplishments that last year, our bus was featured as the centerfold of Bus Conversions Magazine, thus fulfilling my life-long ambition of becoming a Miss September.
The story of our year-long adventure is already garnering interest in the media and has been mentioned in AMA News (circulation 250,000, and this journal of the American Medical Association has already agreed to review the book with an author interview when it comes out), Woman’s Day, Quick and Simple, Match.com and Best Life Magazine. An upcoming Parade Magazine article on the growing phenomenon of mid-life career breaks (who knew I was a trend setter?) will include a photo of Tim and me, along with our story. My blog of our trip has also been mentioned in Andy Serwer’s Street Life ecolumn (Fortune Magazine).
I hope you are interested in seeing the proposal and if so, would be most happy to send it to you via e-mail or snail mail.
Commentary from Mollie:
Doreen Orion’s query caught my attention for three reasons.
First, it was professional. A good query letter is a lot like a good cover letter. It should be well structured and grammatically correct with an appropriate salutation. The author’s contact information should be easily located, and the tone should be polite and professional. It didn't take long for Doreen to get to the hook, or "elevator pitch," and quickly explain what her memoir was about.
Second, it did a great job conveying both the subject matter and tone of the book. If you’re writing a humorous memoir like Doreen, it’s OK to inject a bit of humor into your query—just make sure your letter isn’t so informal that it’s off-putting.
Third, Doreen’s sums up her platform—i.e., why she’s the go-to-gal to write this book, and how she’s going to get media attention for it—nicely. Her writing credits are impressive and she's obviously got the connections in place to spread the word about this book once it came out.
Ready to send out your query? Get a critique!
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.
Whether you are an experienced writer looking to improve the elements within your query letter or a new writer looking for pointers on how to write a query letter, our 2nd Draft Query Letter Critique Service provides the advice and feedback you need to improve your query.