My Successful Query Letter


This year I'm participating in Pitch Wars, an incredible mentoring program for aspiring authors—which you can learn more about here. I'm serving as a Pitch Wars 2018 mentor, and one of the things the team thought would be helpful was for us to share our successful query letters with you. Here's mine!

Dear [agent],

It was a pleasure meeting you at the [X Writers Conference]. We spoke after your mystery writing panel. My 85,000-word mystery novel ARTIFACT is currently a finalist in the St. Martin's/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery competition, and was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant. [X editor] from St. Martin's made me her "Editor's Choice" pick at the [X Conference], and is interested in reading ARTIFACT even if it is not selected as the winner of the St. Martin's competition. 

Jaya Jones was born in India to an Indian mother and American father. Now a historian in San Francisco, she receives a mysterious package containing a jewel-encrusted artifact, sent by her ex-lover the same day he died in a supposed accident. Jaya soon discovers that the secrets of a lost Indian treasure may be hidden in a Scottish legend from the days of the British Raj. And she's not the only one on the trail.Jaya's quest to catch a killer and find the treasure takes her from San Francisco to London to the Highlands of Scotland. Helping her decipher the few cryptic clues she possesses are a devastatingly handsome art historian with something to hide, and a charming archaeologist running for his life. Evading a shadowy stalker, Jaya follows hints from the hastily scrawled note of her dead lover to a remote archaeological dig along the windswept cliffs of Scotland. When a member of the crew is murdered, she must figure out which of the scholars vying for her affections might be the love of her life—and which one is a killer.

The first in a proposed series, ARTIFACT introduces a new headstrong heroine for fans of Elizabeth Peters' adventure stories, but with a modern twist. Jaya is an Indiana Jones for the 21st century.

A bit about me: I'm the child of two cultural anthropologists, one from the southern tip of India, the other from Albuquerque, New Mexico. I spent much of my childhood traveling, and I have lived in all the countries where ARTIFACT takes place. I'm on the board of Sisters in Crime's Northern California Chapter, and am a member of Mystery Writers of America and Romance Writers of America.

This is the letter that led to multiple agents being interested in the book, and that helped me sign with the amazing Jill Marsal of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, who I've been with ever since.If you're querying agents, good luck!