Saturday, December 17, 2011

On the Fifth Day of Querymas...

my true Genn gave to me: hot guys and cake, one confused rocker, a sick girl, two switched witches, and a role-play game that turns deadly.

Dear Gennifer,

It was so fun to meet at the Kansas City Pitchapalooza. Congrats on winning and the upcoming
release of your novel, Crewel.

I know you’re a coffee hound, but I have a recipe to make your mouth water. Ok, I have to jump in and point out that Danyelle's personalization rocks.  Obviously, I'm not an agent, but let's pretend I am.  She took the time to point out that we've met before (+1), showed she was familiar with my work (+1) and then segued into her synopsis with one more personal detail (+1).  So she's going into my reading her query already impressed and interested.  Combine one sassy baker, one sexy hockey player, and one obsessed stalker. Mix well. Then pour into a hot pan. Sprinkle on some romance. Bake on high heat for 86,000 words.

According to Rachel Marconi, chocolate heals all wounds. That and throwing darts at a picture
of her ex-boyfriend. Burned by yet another bad relationship, Rachel decides to reprioritize her
life, putting her dream to compete on a Food Network Challenge at the top of the list and dating
at the bottom crossed out with red Sharpie.  I love this paragraph.  I am wondering if the author can use Food Network Challenge or if she needs to create her own reality show.  But that's something that could come up in a revision letter.

But what’s a girl to do when a certain sexy guy keeps asking her out?  No rhetorical questions!  How about: But not even the kitchen is safe when Graydon Gretski,
a former pro-hockey player turned restaurant owner enters the mix.  After a lot of persistence and humorous teasing well-seasoned flirtations, he finally convinces Rachel to commit to a date. But just when things begin to warm up,
threatening notes directed at Rachel arrive. When her bakery is vandalized, Graydon’s protective streak goes on red alert. Is it her obsessive ex-boyfriend stalking her? Or maybe a challenger
trying to sabotage the competition? Either way, Rachel is definitely going to need some more
chocolate—perhaps drizzled over ice cream and devil’s food cake. I'm not loving this last line.  First I'm wondering what happened to the Food Network Challenge in the first paragraph?  Did she give it up for a bakery and a hockey player?  Or is she actually competed on the show.  I think you can come up with something with more kick that brings together the threads of the query while using the great voice you have throughout.

SWEET CONFECTIONS combines the sassiness of Rachel Gibson with the closed bedroom
door approach of Kristen Higgins.  Good comps.  I'm not sold on the title, and I suspect an agent may want to change it.  

I am a thirty-something mom with the heart of a college student obsessed with chocolate and
yearning for the thrill of romance. I think you tell us the same thing better throughout the rest of this paragraph.  While Sweet Confections is my first completed novel, I am
not new to the publishing industry. My non-fiction book, (dis)Abilities and the Gospel (Cedar
Fort, 2011), is currently available through a regional niche publisher. I have a loyal following on
Facebook, Twitter, and my blog, and am often invited to speak at conferences and organizations
– both in the disability and writing communities. I am also a test kitchen participant for culinary
mystery author, Josi Kilpack. What can I say? Food and the written word are key elements to my
survival of motherhood!

Attached Be careful here.  Almost all agents want it pasted into the email not attached! to this email is the first 10 pages as per your website requirements. Thank you for
considering my novel for representation. Have a wonderful day!


Danyelle Ferguson

I want to point out things that are really working in this query.  First, the personalization.  You should aim for this level of personalization with every query you send.  Secondly, the voice.  I feel like I know what I'm getting from reading this query.  This is totally not my genre, but I want to read this.  The overall format and tone.  This letter is personal, professional, and very well written.  Even with the changes I mentioned above, this would definitely garner a request imo.  Best of luck!


  1. Gennifer -

    Thank you so much for your critique! So glad you enjoyed it. I love the suggestions you made and am going to print this out to make the tweaks after the holidays when I start querying this novel.

    To answer your question about what happened to the Food Network Challenge. In the question: "Or maybe a challenger trying to sabotage the competition?" I was referring to the FNC there. Maybe that needs to be more clear or tweaked? Hmm . . . I'll brainstorm that a bit more.

    Thanks again so much! You're awesome!

  2. BTW - I also wanted to say I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this suggestion:

    But not even the kitchen is safe when Graydon Gretski,
    a former pro-hockey player turned restaurant owner enters the mix.

    Thank you! =)

  3. Ronda Gibb HinrichsenDecember 17, 2011 at 7:33 AM

    This has been soooo helpful. Thanks to both Gennifer and Danyelle!

  4. I love query critiques with this kind of detail. Excellent! Very helpful.

    And I want to read this book.

  5. You are welcome, Danyelle!

    And thanks for the kind words everyone!

  6. Fantastic query, Danyelle, and great suggestions, Genn! Best of luck with querying, Danyelle!

  7. Great critique. Danyelle, I also love that first paragraph. I totally get your voice and it's exciting.

  8. Sweet query and critque, ladies. Gave me some food for thought. Hee hee. Good luck, Danyelle.