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Successful Queries: Agent Roseanne Wells and "Dumbemployed"

The best way to learn how to write a successful query is to read one. In this installment, agent Roseanne Wells (Marianne Strong Literary Agency) shares feedback on a query by her authors, Phil Edwards and Matt Kraft, for their book, Dumbemployed (Running Press).

This 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.

(20 literary agents actively seeking writers and their writing.)

The 55th installment in this series is with agent Roseanne Wells (Marianne Strong Literary Agency) for Phil Edwards's and Matt Kraft's book, Dumpemployed (June 28, 2011; Running Press). Learn more at Dumbemployed.com.

Dumpemployed by Phil Edwards and Matt Kraft

Dumpemployed by Phil Edwards and Matt Kraft

IndieBound | Amazon

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Successful Query for Dumbemployed

Dear Ms. Wells,

Are you dumbemployed? Being dumbemployed is all about the jobs you love to hate. Over the past year, Dumbemployed.com has published over 1,500 of the weirdest and funniest stories about work. If you’ve ever complained about your job, wanted to hide under your desk, or laughed at a coworker’s quirks, then chances are that you’re dumbemployed too.

We're writing because we noted your interest in funny, quirky books about pop culture. That's Dumbemployed in a nutshell—it's every story too funny to leave at the watercooler.

Limited to three hundred characters, each Dumbemployed story is a Twitter-sized chat around the water cooler. Categorized into five distinct aspects of work—Bosses, Customers, Just Dumb, Overtime, and Weird Shift—every story reflects a different side of life on the job. Whether it's slinging burgers at the drive thru, dodging bosses at a corporate conference, or even reading query letters from a stranger, Dumbemployed covers the gamut of work.

Each story begins and ends the same way, starting with "At work today," and ending with "I’m dumbemployed," making an anthology great reading material during a dull moment on the job. Imagine the TV show "The Office" as a Facebook status update, and you'll understand Dumbemployed. We're all dumbemployed sometimes—it’s recognizing it that makes it bearable.

For the past year, our company has compiled and edited Dumbemployed.com. We've gotten a great response across the web and continue to grow virally on the site, on Facebook, and on Twitter. With over 1,500 stories published and ten new ones posted daily, our content is fresh, funny, and varied. Each story is categorized and tagged for easy organization. I’ve included some of our top stories beneath this message, and you can always visit Dumbemployed.com to see our full catalog.

We think that an anthology would make a great coffee table book or joke book, perfect for everything from graduation gifts to promotion celebrations. We’re pursuing any opportunity to help distribute this content and, of course, share Dumbemployed with a whole new set of readers.

Thanks for your time,

Phil Edwards and Matt Kraft

Commentary from Roseanne

Granted this query is not perfect, but I liked it immediately because it was funny and a relatable concept, and
the query letter inspired the very accurate pitch line as "FML meets The Office."

I don't encourage rhetorical questions in queries because they are usually, "Have you ever lost a baby to cancer?" or "Do you know the miracles of the universe?" or "Do you know how it feels to have your husband become a transvestite prostitute?" but this one works very well because it's short and introduces the terminology.

I didn't include them here (for space reasons), but I'm also glad they included (short) sample Dumbemployed stories at the bottom of their e-query—because that had me laughing before I even requested more. And if I'm reviewing a query letter for a humor book, I should be laughing.

*****

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.

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.

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