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.

Payal Doshi: On Letting Rejection Bring You Clarity

Payal Doshi: On Letting Rejection Bring You Clarity

Middle-grade author Payal Doshi discusses the sometimes-disheartening process of querying a novel and how she used rejection to fuel her passion for writing.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Writer’s Digest Conference Announcements and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce that our 2021 Annual Conference will be virtual, registration is open for our 2021 in-person Novel Conference, and more!

Rajani LaRocca: On Letting Your Synopsis Guide Your Writing

Rajani LaRocca: On Letting Your Synopsis Guide Your Writing

In this article, middle-grade author Rajani LaRocca discusses how the synopsis for her newest release, Much Ado About Baseball, guided her writing process.

From Script

Adding Your Personal Connection to Your Stories and Building Your Brand As a Writer (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, Script’s Editor Sadie Dean interviews Dickinson creator/showrunner/EP Alena Smith, learn how to divide and conquer as screenwriter in the business and creating fruitful relationships. Plus, a brand new Script Talk video interview with writer/director/actress Djaka Souaré about her journey as a mentor and mentee in the WOCUnite and #StartWith8Hollywood mentorship programs.

Poetic Forms

Englyn Penfyr: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the englyn penfyr, a Welsh tercet form.

Editorial Road-Mapping: Start Your Self-Editing Process Here

Editorial Road-Mapping: Start Your Self-Editing Process Here

Editorial road-mapping begins with a challenge of willpower and ends with a battle-plan for transforming your manuscript into the book you dreamed it could be. Let editor Kris Spisak give you that map!

6 Tips for Writing a Summer Romance Novel

6 Tips for Writing a Summer Romance Novel

Summer. Three whole months of bright sunsets and glittering water and endless possibility. Here are 6 tips from romance writer Rachael Lippincott for capturing a tiny bit of that magic in the pages of your next summer romance novel.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Running Empty

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Running Empty

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, consider what happens when resources begin to run low or out.

5 Tips for Creating a Fully Realized Historical Setting

5 Tips for Creating a Fully Realized Historical Setting

Research is more than just reading books and articles. Here, author Nekesa Afia gives her top 5 tips for writing a historical setting that will engage and wow your readers.