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.

5 Thrilling Adventure Terms Every Writer Should Know (And Why)

5 Thrilling Adventure Terms Every Writer Should Know (And Why)

For over a decade, author Joshua Glenn has been researching adventure-related terms. Now, he's sharing what he's learned for other writers to add to their lexicon.

Moral Compass

Moral Compass

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, write about someone with an unfailing moral compass.

Daniel Levin Becker: On the Forgotten Art of Letter Writing

Daniel Levin Becker: On the Forgotten Art of Letter Writing

Author, translator, and editor Daniel Levin Becker discusses his hopes for future letter writing like those featured in the new anthology, Dear McSweeney's: Two Decades of Letters to the Editor from Writers, Readers, and the Occasional Bewildered Consumer.

e.g. vs. i.e. (Grammar Rules)

e.g. vs. i.e. (Grammar Rules)

Let's look at the differences between e.g. and i.e. with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

20 Authors Share Their Biggest Surprise in the Writing Process

20 Authors Share Their Biggest Surprises in the Writing Process

Experienced writers know to expect the unexpected. Here are surprises in the writing process from 20 authors, including Amanda Jayatissa, Paul Neilan, Kristin Hannah, and Robert Jones, Jr.

Ruth Hogan: On Infusing Personal Interests in Fiction

Ruth Hogan: On Infusing Personal Interests in Fiction

Author Ruth Hogan discusses the process of learning a new skill in writing her new novel, The Moon, The Stars and Madame Burova.

Do You Find an Editor or Agent First?

Do You Find an Editor or Agent First?

It's a common question asked by writers looking to get their first book published: Do you find an editor or agent first? The answer depends on each writer's situation.

writer's digest wd presents

WDU Presents: 7 New WDU Courses, a Chance at Publication, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce seven new WDU courses, a chance at publication, and more!

What Is a Professional Editor and Why Should Writers Use One?

What Is a Professional Editor and Why Should Writers Use One?

Editor is a very broad term in the publishing industry that can mean a variety of things. Tiffany Yates Martin reveals what a professional editor is and why writers should consider using one.