Successful Queries: Agent Christine Witthohn and Rochelle Staab's "Hollywood Hoodoo"

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. The 38th installment in this series is with agent Christine Witthohn (Book Cents Literary) and her author, Rochelle Staab, for the murder mystery novel, (now called) Who Do, Voodoo?
Author:
Publish date:

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.

The 38th installment in this series is with agent Christine Witthohn (Book Cents Literary) and her author, Rochelle Staab, for the murder mystery novel, Hollywood Hoodoo.

Image placeholder title

In lieu of a cover (not available yet), this is a
nice picture of author Rochelle Staab.

Dear Ms. Witthohn,

I am pleased to submit for your consideration, Hollywood Hoodoo, a witty murder mystery with a voodoo curse, set in contemporary Los Angeles. It's complete at 71,000 words.

In Hollywood Hoodoo, mysterious tarot cards, a cursed voodoo spell book, and the falsely accused team of L.A. Clinical Psychologist Liz Cooper and Religious Philosophy Professor Nick Garfield come together in the hunt for the real killer of a voodoo initiate.

Hollywood Hoodoo is the first of a series of supernatural themed murder mysteries, featuring Liz—the pragmatic shrink, and Nick—the broad-minded occult expert.

My professional background includes Top 40 radio station programming and 28 years of executive marketing positions at Warner Bros. Records where I remain a consultant. Writing one-line headlines is fun. Writing novels is bliss. [Some personal info here was removed.]

I’m a member of MWA, RWA, SinC, and KOD. Hollywood Hoodoo has been submitted in the 2010 RWA Golden Heart contest. I understand the value of marketing and am motivated and ready to focus my efforts.

This is a multiple submission. The first chapter of Hollywood Hoodoo is copied below. Thank you for considering my work. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Rochelle Staab

Commentary from Christine:

I like queries that are short and sweet. A query should give the agent/editor the “bones” of the story. If the writer does a good job, the agent/editor will ask to see the “meat.” What I particularly liked about this query was this: the writer gave me the genre, word count, and the hook in the first two sentences. Notice how short these two sentences are?

Paragraph 1: gives the vitals; Paragraph 2: gives the bones; Paragraph 3: shows extended life—part of a series; Paragraph 4: author background/platform; Paragraph 5: organization affiliations; Paragraph 6: thanks me. The entire query is less than a page in length. Short and sweet.

Within 60 days, I signed the author and sold the series (three books) to Berkley Prime Crime. The first book comes out in 2011. Oh—and Hollywood Hoodoo was chosen as a finalist in the Golden Heart contest. We'll know if she won in July :)

Ready to send out your query? Get a critique!

Image placeholder title

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.

Click to continue.

Amir

The “Secret Sauce” Necessary to Succeed at a 30-Day Writing Challenge

In this article, author and writing coach Nina Amir lays out her top tips to master your mindset and complete a 30-day writing challenge.

Kane2

Crashing Into New Worlds: Writing About the Unfamiliar

Award-winning crime author Stephanie Kane explains how she builds characters unlike herself and navigates their worlds to create vivid and realistic stories.

plot_twist_story_prompts_without_a_trace_robert_lee_brewer

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Without a Trace

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character leave without a trace.

WDVintage_10_29

Vintage WD: The Truth about True Crime

In this article from July 2000, true crime novelist and former New York Times correspondent Lisa Beth Pulitzer shares with us some key insights for breaking into the true crime genre.

new_agent_alert_barb_roose_books_such_literary_services_adult_christian_fiction_and_nonfiction

New Agent Alert: Barb Roose of Books & Such Literary Management

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Barb Roose of Books & Such Literary Management) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.

Grinnell_10:28

Evoking Emotion in Fiction: Seven Pragmatic Ways to Make Readers Give a Damn

Evoking emotion on the page begins with the man or woman at the keyboard. Dustin Grinnell serves up seven straightforward tactics for writing tear-jerking stories that make your readers empathize with your characters.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 546

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 spooky poem.

Richard_Shadowlands

Learn Better World-Building Strategies Through World of Warcraft and the New Shadowlands Expansion

WD editor and fantasy writer Moriah Richard shares five unique ways in which writers can use World of Warcraft to better build their worlds—without playing the game.