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Covers, Blurbs, 1st Line, Query > Query feedback: adult mystery adventure

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message 1: by Cate (last edited Apr 13, 2018 01:59PM) (new)

Cate M. Turner (cmtauthor) | 4 comments Hello everyone! Now that I feel like I can dip my toes into the querying whirlpool, I'd love to get some feedback on my query first. Please let me know what I could improve! Thanks in advance! :)


Graduate student Leila Sterling is living her dream working at an archaeological excavation in Egypt. Upon arrival at the dig in Saqqara, she comes face-to-face with the coworker of her nightmares, Xander Harrison. They are still struggling to find a way to work together peacefully when one of her other colleagues comes forward as an undercover FBI agent. He is there to investigate her father’s murder--and Xander is the main suspect. Xander insists it was an accident, but the disappearance of an ancient papyrus her father had been transporting suggests otherwise.

Upon the discovery of the sealed tomb of an Ancient Egyptian Queen, which promises to contain artifacts Leila can’t even begin to imagine, a new enemy emerges from the shadows. This villain is hell-bent on getting his hands on the artifacts and doing everything in his power to destroy Leila to end a generation-long family feud. Despite their rocky past, Leila and Xander must join efforts in order to protect the tomb from plunder and ruin. At the same time, Leila must protect her heart.

[A few lines of personalization] Combining elements of mystery, adventure, and romance, THE STOLEN PAPYRUS is an adult work of fiction complete at 96,000 words. It could be published as the beginning of a series or as a standalone. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

C.M. Turner



message 2: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments I tightened your blurb a bit and added some white space. It isn't clear to me if she's already at the excavation when the book starts or if she arrives during the story, I wrote it as if she's already there:


Graduate student Leila Sterling is living her dream at an archaeological excavation in Egypt. However, when she first got there, she came face-to-face with the coworker of her nightmares, Xander Harrison.

They’re still struggling to work together when another colleague reveals himself to be an undercover FBI agent. He’s there to investigate her father’s murder--and Xander is the main suspect. Xander insists it was an accident, but the disappearance of an ancient papyrus her father had been transporting suggests otherwise.

Discovering the sealed tomb of an Ancient Egyptian Queen, which promises to contain artifacts Leila can’t even begin to imagine, a new enemy emerges from the shadows. He’s hell-bent on getting his hands on the artifacts. And doing everything in his power to destroy Leila, to end a generation-long family feud.

Despite their rocky past, Leila and Xander must join efforts in order to protect the tomb from plunder and ruin. Despite their initial animosity and the cloud he’s under, Leila finds she must also protect her heart.


Good luck!


message 3: by Cate (new)

Cate M. Turner (cmtauthor) | 4 comments Hi Keith, thanks so much for the help! I think I was coming at it at the wrong angle, so I had to sit on it for a while. Then I rewrote, sticking to the bare bones. Here's my new attempt:

"Leila Sterling’s dream job at an excavation in Saqqara, Egypt turns into a nightmare when she has to team up with Xander Harrison, the man who killed her father in a car crash.

"She is prepared to put aside her misgivings about Xander but then an undercover agent warns her Xander might have engineered her father’s death. While there is no proof, there is a motive. Someone stole the ancient papyrus the night her father died. Someone who wanted the clues to find this ancient Egyptian tomb. Someone who would murder for it.

"She keeps Xander at a distance—until she learns Xander was working together with her father to unearth the secrets of the papyrus. To get to the bottom of her father’s death, Leila has to risk everything that is dear to her. Even give away the very secret her father died to protect.

THE STOLEN PAPYRUS is an adult suspense novel, complete at 96,000 words. It could be published as the beginning of a series or as a standalone. Thank you for your time and consideration."


I guess my question is if this is enough information for a query, or are there issues you think need to be addressed in order to find this concept enticing.


message 4: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments Some minor tweaks:


Leila Sterling’s dream job at an excavation in Saqqara, Egypt turns into a nightmare when she's teamed up with Xander Harrison, the man who killed her father in a car crash.

As she puts aside her misgivings about Xander, an undercover FBI agent warns her Xander might have engineered her father’s death. While there's no proof, there is a motive. Someone stole an ancient papyrus the night her father died, which contains clues to find an ancient Egyptian tomb. Something worth murdering for.

She keeps Xander at a distance—until she learns Xander was working together with her father on the secrets of the papyrus. To get to the bottom of her father’s death, Leila has to risk everything that's dear to her. Even giving away the very secret her father died to protect.


I think the blurb works. Care to show us the whole query?


message 5: by Cate (last edited Apr 13, 2018 02:27PM) (new)

Cate M. Turner (cmtauthor) | 4 comments Hey, thanks so much for the tweaks! I did keep the "to unearth the secrets" phrase, since it's kind of a play on the whole archaeology backdrop.

Here's the query as a whole:


Dear [Agent’s Name],

Leila Sterling’s dream job at an excavation in Saqqara, Egypt turns into a nightmare when she teams up with Xander Harrison, the man who killed her father in a car crash. She has never forgiven him for the accident, nor does she plan to. But he thinks it’s time she did.

As she struggles to put aside her misgivings about Xander, an undercover FBI agent warns her Xander might have engineered her father’s death. While there’s no proof, there is a motive. Someone stole the ancient papyrus the night her father died. Someone who wanted the clues to find this ancient Egyptian tomb. Someone who would murder for it.

She keeps Xander at a distance—until she learns Xander was working together with her father to unearth the secrets of the papyrus. To get to the bottom of her father’s death, Leila has to risk everything that is dear to her. Even give away the very secret her father died to protect.

THE STOLEN PAPYRUS is an adult suspense novel, complete at 95,000 words. It could be published as the beginning of a series or as a standalone. Thank you for your time and consideration.

[Signature]


I will add personalization depending on the agent I submit to at the end, but all the housekeeping stuff I'm keeping short and simple. I don't have any comp titles that I'd be confident including. Not yet, anyway. I'm keeping my eye out for them.


message 6: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments I've read many times that comps are important, as it gives the agent/publisher an idea of where you think your book will fit on the shelf. Comps need to be well-known enough that the agent/publisher has heard of them, but not best sellers. What an absurd process this is ;-)

No writing credits? Nothing interesting in your background? If you have nothing, then nothing is perfectly acceptable. But, if you've done/experienced something interesting that is relevant to being a writer, or to your specific story, it's often a good hook to put in a sentence or two. Think about stuff you'd be putting in an author blurb for the back of the book.


message 7: by Cate (new)

Cate M. Turner (cmtauthor) | 4 comments I'll definitely include comps if I can decide on any. Elizabeth Peters' books are an option, but I'd like to include other authors as well. And since she's deceased there probably won't be many posthumous publishings. If any. I guess agents don't like "older" comp titles either.

As for a bio, yeah, I've got nothing. I'm perfectly boring with no writing credentials haha. I guess that will be my bio. :D


message 8: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments I saw she has had a number of books published this century (including at least one posthumous), so that's probably fine.


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