Monday, January 10, 2011

Query letter #2: non-fiction

Dear Agent Sydney,

Ever see a beautiful flower arrangement and think, “Man, I wish I could make that!” [While I frequently employ 'man' in everyday life, it does immediately position this book in a certain demographic - the Fonzie demographic. And it's likely that many of those with the time, inclination and cashola to do floral design are in the Mrs Cunningham demographic, so you may as well leave the door open. Please reconsider inclusion of 'man'.] -Maybe not. Why? It can seem too hard and time consuming.

Groundbreaking in methods and untraditional design, The Flower Chef is putting floral design myths (such as flower prep and techniques) to rest, and inspiring a new generation of “Do-It-Yourself” [at this point you could make a quick reference to the popularity of craft and DIY websites and books, to establish a potential readership for the agent/publisher]. For most of the flower recipes in here you can go to your local grocery store, farmer’s market or florist, and buy bunches of flowers or deconstruct a pre-made bouquet to create a professional looking arrangement.

Formatted like a traditional cookbook with prep/cook time and ingredients [Why have you ordered the book like this? It's not an immediately obvious fit with flowers, so you'll need to explain] , it goes in sequential order from beginner arrangements (Appetizers) to advanced (Entrees/Desserts). I’ve also included food recipes for each section because who doesn’t love looking at recipes? [That's not a good enough reason to include them - explain how they fit with your flower theme, because what we take from the title is 'flower' not 'chef', thus the reference is a bit oblique] For the most part they are vegetarian friendly, and simple enough to actually make. At the back you will find party and special occasion ideas, which include ways to mix-and-match the food and flowers.

I’m an ambitious young entrepreneur that started my own floral business after working in non-profit. During college I worked at the top florists in Los Angeles as a sales girl, learning the ropes and teaching myself along the way. My design studio Fxxxx has been featured in Daily Candy, KCRW, MyFoxLA, Wedding Wire, numerous wedding and event blogs, and has donated arrangements to many charities including FEED and Sandpipers. Flour also contributes to editorial photo-shoots and is the official florist of the LA Shoot This! photography group. [good, good, good - credentials established]

Please visit my website at to see my eco-friendly arrangements. [Eco-friendly! Why didn't you say so earlier? This is an important point to make. Ppl luvz the eco.]

The full proposal is complete. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. It’s much appreciated!! [Never use two exclamation marks when one will do.] Looking forward to hearing from you.

Warmest Regards,
Author C

Overall: a good pitch for an idea that's not necessarily an obvious winner. Your tone is bright and engaging, and I'd want to see the proposal because I think I like you already. Note to Australian readers: this author is in the US, where a proposal for a non-fiction project is still acceptable. Here in the great southern land, we need to have a bit more for submissions.

What you haven't mentioned: Is the book four-colour photographic? How many recipes are you thinking of including? How long would it take you to do a full manuscript? And I'm still not sure who your readers are - can you give an idea of where you think this book fits - in with craft books? In with gorgeous, expensive cookbooks?

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