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Friday, June 22, 2012

Query Critique Month: "Welcoming the Rain" Pitch

The Query Critique Month continues! If you haven't been checking in this month, you may want to take a look at some of the earlier query critiques. Here's the service article query, a novel query, a profile query, and a YA novel query.  

I'd call this a "general" query; my comments are in green:  

Dear Ms. Budds, 

When water falls from the sky in Portland, much of it washes across asphalt, sidewalks and rooftops, heading straight towards the Willamette River.  But the city is working to change that.  Partnering with property owners of an established Portland restaurant [which one?], each deluge is captured and re-purposed using plants, permeable concrete and a green roof to slow down and filter storm water runoff.  The result is greener, healthier neighborhoods, and in this case, a lush, inviting outdoor patio perfect for embracing Portland weather, margaritas and mole. [Great lead. Love the idea and the language.]   

This piece, entitled “Welcoming the Rain” or “Rain, Margaritas and Mole” highlights a family-owned Portland restaurant [which is?] and its new rain garden created in partnership with the City of Portland. The story would be in the 500 word range and could run in Dwell’s “Off the Grid” or “Outside” sections in a fall 2011 edition. Possible photographs might Images would include permeable concrete, ipe seatwalls, modern concrete planters and a green roof  “Rain Garden 101” tips for incorporating the same ideas into a home garden would accompany the article, including a checklist for the do-it-yourselfer. [This next paragraph feels like it's a little rushed and the writer could add some detail. The last sentence in particular needs tightening/cutting to clarify. Also, if the writer wants to make this more marketable, I would look for some other examples of rain gardens--that way it's not a story about only one rain garden but about, say, three or four. Then readers can see different approaches, etc and it doesn't come off as being too PR-y for the one restaurant, which does need to be named. And if the writer can provide any more details about rain gardens--say, whether they're growing in popularity or are especially prevalent in rainy climates, for example--I think that would add a bit more depth to this query. Another thing--are other cities involved in these kinds of gardens? That's an interesting angle too.]

 I am a landscape designer, professor of design and published freelance writer.  I’ve attached a. writing sample of one of my stories published this month in a regional gardening magazine. [Good start but this ISG could be pumped up a bit. Maybe the writer only has had one piece published, and if that's the case, fine. Otherwise, I would mention the market(s) she's written for and put a little more effort into selling her unique qualifications, which are strong for this particular piece.]  

 I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this story.  

[Closing omitted.] 

Overall, I'd add more detail to this query and include some other examples of rain gardens to make it more marketable. Readers, what do you think? 

**One of the reasons I provide critiques and post templates on my blog is because I've always found it helpful to have a model to follow, whether I'm writing a query, a LOI, an invoice, or even a "pay-or-die" letter. My new ebook, Dollars and Deadlines' 10 Essential Freelance Templates (Smashwords version) includes 10 essential freelance templates together, with an explanation of how to use each; it's invaluable if you're a new freelancer. Want a guide to the business side of freelancing? Then you'll want to read my new book from Writer's Digest, Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success.

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