Aug 7, 2009


Note: I've left out the intro and personal touches (as in why I'm querying said agent).

Beauty Secret Representative Keira Diaz was out to sell lipstick, not solve a mystery. But when her client’s playboy husband, Roger Siebold, is reported missing and the Beaufort Police Department dismiss the case, Keira’s plans change. A desire to help propels Keira to lead an investigation. What she discovers is that more than one person is being deceived.

Finding Roger’s body only leads to more questions. Where was he the three days before he was murdered? Who had access to the ricin that poisoned him? And what does a kidnapped little girl have to do with it all?

Not even Keira is prepared for how deep the lies go and how many crimes are intertwined. This is one case where keeping secrets just might get her killed.

When you write genre fiction it’s important to bring something new to the table. Beauty Secrets accomplishes this by creating its own niche within the themed mystery novel market. The protagonist, Keira Diaz, is an independent beauty representative (think Avon or Mary Kay). Her profession gives her daily access to people’s homes, their private lives and the neighborhood gossip. Combine this with Keira’s natural curiosity and determination, and you end up with endless mystery-solving scenarios.

If interested, the full manuscript (62,000 words) is available upon request. For more information about myself or my writing, please visit my blog at
Thank you for your time and consideration.


Suzan Harden said...

Hi Stephanie!

There's nothing like a rainy Sunday afternoon, a cup of Earl Grey and a good cozy. You've done your research in the cozy market and it shows, which is a terrific thing.

The problem is you don't tell me anything about the actual story. Skip the rhetorical questions in the query, and summarize the plotline down to a couple paragraphs. Tell the agent specifically how Keira gets dragged into Roger's murder, what's her conflict, and what are secrets that will get her killed. An agent probably isn't going to be interested in a series until he or she knows what's going on in this book.

Also, please mention the title in the query itself.

Best of luck submitting your ms.

Timbra said...

I like your first line-it is attention grabbing and sets a nice tone.

I have read that rhetorical questions are a "don't". Maybe you could still use that information, but rephrased.

I was a little thrown off by the phrase "Not even Keira is prepared..." I thought she was in a sort of fish out of water position so I wouldn't expect her to be prepared for deep seeded lies (the way I would expect a police officer or investigator or such to be). Similarly, I was confused by "this is one case..." Are you meaning to imply that she has had previous cases?

I liked the sentence about her profession giving her access but something about the paragraph as a whole didn't sit quite right with me.

I personally like the premise and would probably pick it up off the shelf for a closer look.

I have noticed in some other queries that people have started referencing their blogs or Facebook pages. I only noticed this recently. Is this a new trend? Has anyone seen it recommended on any of the helpful agents that blog websites?

gj said...

Some random thoughts:

First and foremost, you don't need to tell the agent about the market (the requirements of genre fiction), and if you haven't shown that the story has the market's requirements, telling the agent that it meets the market's requirements just won't work.

Second, the sleuth should have some reason, at least in the first book of a mystery series, why she HAS to solve the mystery. What are her stakes? Why can't she just shrug and say, "I can't figure it out. I give up."

The second thought may relate back to the first, in a way -- you're telling that she is the perfect person to solve mysteries, but you're not showing it in the query. You want something like, "When she finds the wrong color lipstick, one that she definitely didn't sell, she knows there's been another woman in the apartment, but the police discount such flimsy (to them, but rock-solid to herself) evidence." (Or whatever the clue is that's related to her career.)

In later books in the series, you can rely on the standard motivation, that she has a reputation for solving mysteries that others can't, so they come to her for help, but for this first one, you should have some personal stakes.

Finally, the word count seems a bit short. I think Avalon's mysteries are in the 60K range, but most are more in the 80K range. The count isn't completely out of the ballpark, and I haven't checked cozy mystery word counts recently, but it's something worth researching.

Steph Damore said...

Thanks everyone for all the feedback - I know I can do better explaining the who, what and why's of my novel. The first query letter attempt is always a pain!

Suzan Harden said...

Query writing does get easier with practice, Stephanie. Hang in there!