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 31st installment in this series is with agent Scott Eagan (Greyhaus Literary) and his author, Stephanie Stiles, for the women's fiction novel, Take It Like a Mom.
"Take it Like a Mom" was originally
titled "Better than T.V."
Name: Stephanie Stiles
Title of Manuscript: Better Than T.V.
Word Count: 75,000
Story Premise: Better Than T.V. is a short, humorous novel whose first-person narrator, Annie Fingardt Forster, recounts the various misadventures she experiences during the nine months of her second pregnancy. In a self-effacing and wry voice, she describes her suburban world, her colorful loved ones, and her surprising antics as she prepares for the birth of her new baby. As a stay-at-home mother of a three-year-old son, she turns the mundane events of domestic life into comical and outrageous escapades. Whether it’s a simple trip to the doctor’s office or an entangled stint working part-time as attorney for two of her friends, Annie’s tales are always filled with fun and insight.
Genre: Women's Fiction
Additional Information: I am an English professor at Dominican College, where I chair the Department and direct the Creative Writing Program. I've published poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction before, but this would be my first novel. I'd be an easy client, as I am eager to get this work published. I hope you find that it is in keeping with what you're looking for!
Commentary from Scott
Writers submitting proposals to Greyhaus Literary Agency can do so in three different formats. One method is an online form (fill in the blank). A lot of writers have found this one to be easier to do since they can avoid the pain and misery of writing that dreaded query.
Since opening Greyhaus, only two authors have caught me with their title and in both cases, I signed them (not simply because of the title). This short title certainly sets up the apparent humor in the story. With the blurb, there were several things that jumped out at me here. First of all, Stephanie did not try to overwhelm me with statements that wanted to make the story sound cute or funny. Too often, I have seen writers try this and in the end, all it does is turn me off. In this case, she sums it up in two simple sentences. “Annie Fingardt Forster, recounts the various misadventures she experiences during the nine months of her second pregnancy. In a self-effacing and wry voice, she describes her suburban world, her colorful loved ones, and her surprising antics as she prepares for the birth of her new baby.” Adding the words “misadventures”, “self-effacing” “colorful loved ones” and “surprising antics”, gives the reader a glimpse into the story understanding it is not simply a narrative on pregnancy, but clearly something much more.
The additional element that intrigued me about this project was her additional information she provided about the story. After first setting up the premise, she goes a bit deeper with the comment: “As a stay-at-home mother of a three-year-old son, she turns the mundane events of domestic life into comical and outrageous escapades.” At this point, I was able to immediately start picturing what potential events she would take on in the story. The simple combination of “mundane” and “three-year-old son” can only mean some great scenes.
In her bio, she really doesn’t have much to demonstrate in terms of novel writing. What she does, however, that works is the honesty about her background. She clearly uses her career as a force that shows she understands writing and she mentions briefly that she has done some other writing with short stories and poetry.
On December 29th, I signed this author. On the 11th of January, I sent out the proposal. The initial response from the phone calls showed editors had interest. On January 25th, an offer was made on the book!
Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers Conferences:
- Feb. 11, 2017: Writers Conference of Minnesota (St. Paul, MN)
- Feb. 16–19, 2017: San Francisco Writers Conference (San Francisco, CA)
- Feb. 24, 2017: The Alabama Writers Conference (Birmingham, AL)
- Feb. 25, 2017: Atlanta Writing Workshop (Atlanta, GA)
- March 25, 2017: Michigan Writers Conference (Detroit, MI)
- March 25, 2017: Kansas City Writing Workshop (Kansas City, MO)
- April 8, 2017: Philadelphia Writing Workshop (Philadelphia, PA)
- April 22, 2017: Get Published in Kentucky Conference (Louisville, KY)
- April 22, 2017: New Orleans Writers Conference (New Orleans, LA)
- May 6, 2017: Seattle Writers Conference (Seattle, WA)
- May 19-21, 2017: PennWriters Conference (Pittsburgh, PA)
- June 24, 2017: The Writing Workshop of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
- Aug. 18–20, 2017: Writer's Digest Conference (New York, NY)