Dear Miss Snark,
I am a fan of the character-driven novels of your clients Author A and Author B. I hope that you will represent me for Mysterious Paris, a literary novel of approximately 65,000 words. (well you've avoided the cliche error of saying your book is like A or B--good). "Literary novel" isn't what you mean. It's a novel or it's literary fiction. However, I'm basically skimming here so don't panic)
Manon Roberts can't ask her mother for career advice after graduating college. Her only connection with her dead mother is through the mysteries her mother wrote, set in Paris. The novel opens in New York City at the opera on the eve of Manon's trip to Paris. When Manon meets Thierry, a young wealthy jet-setter, they are attracted, but repulsed by differing attitudes on fate and self-determination. Their paths cross through a series of chance encounters, until they finally hook up at a Buddhist service. "hook up at a Buddhist service" oh dear dog. The sequel to "If You Meet the Buddha In the Road, Kill Him" is now clear: "If You Meet the Buddha In the Road, Fuck Him".
In Paris, Manon receives shocking information about her mother's past. She feels betrayed, and wants to learn what happened to her mother. It is her mother's books that reveal the clues to unlock the mystery. Meanwhile, Thierry is frantically trying to break off his little sister’s relationship with a motorcycle-riding thug. (In Paris, they ride Vespas. Even the thugs) Manon and Thierry's investigations take them to hidden tunnels in an old Parisian cemetery, where they must act quickly to prevent an even worse calamity. In the end, Thierry is left in charge of his sister Isabelle, and can no longer travel the world. He offers Manon a job to help him expand his art collection. Is it just the late hour of the day, or does that not make sense on any level?
Although this is my first novel, I have worked many years as a technical writer. The National Post, a Canadian national newspaper, ran a series of interviews with me while I wrote the first draft of Mysterious Paris. (if they ran a series of interviews with you, that's someone else writing the article. That's not a pub credit for you no matter what. And it's meaningless for judging how you write.)
Please find enclosed the first page of my novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Inspector Jardin followed the sound of the distant footsteps. He was on the tail of the murderer, Louis-Robert, and did not want to lose his man.
Earlier, he had caught a glimpse of Louis-Robert entering the cemetery, recognizing him by his muddy red hair and royal blue coat. But Jardin lost him in the labyrinth of headstones and sculptures and was now closing in slowly. Crunch. He could hear Louis-Robert’s quick step on the gravel path. Jardin always wore sensible rubber soled shoes to avoid being heard.
A door creaked open. The steps disappeared. Jardin approached the mausoleum, a large low building with moss growing in stone crevices. The door swung shut. He followed inside. Flickering light from memorial candles broke the darkness of the corridor. He heard the sharp step of Louis-Robert.
Jardin rounded the corner with care, but the villain seemed to have disappeared once more. Impossible. This corridor ended with nothing but stone walls and monuments.
As Jardin passed the Monument to the Dead of Bartholomew, he paused. He looked at the edges of a door-sized block of stone. Only the size of the block revealed its purpose. An angel, carved in bas-relief decorated the door. In front, stone hands folded in prayer. Jardin wrapped his fingers around the stone hand. He traced the firm ridges. He pressed harder against the unyielding stone. The hands started to twist. Ingenious! This must be the knob! As Jardin pushed the door open into the monument, a musty odor of mildew and dust escaped. Stairs lead down into the darkness.
oh..it's the book. How clever.
Say so in the cover letter. Do you open each chapter with something from the dead mother's books? Say so.
A sudden and overpowering whiff of perfume transported Manon Roberts from the Parisian cemetery back to the Lincoln Center Opera House. (There is no such thing as the Lincoln Center Opera House. If you've been to the Met, you've been to the Metropolitan Opera at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. . If you've been to City Opera, you've also been to Lincoln Center. Getting this kind of detail wrong makes me CRAZY.) She twisted in her seat to let a gray-haired lady pass, her loose black velvet tunic brushing Manon's hand. Manon looked down at Jardin Catches a Murderer, not wanting to follow her friend Rosie, who couldn't sit still during intermission. While she held the book in one hand, she played with her necklace and read the familiar words. The jarring mix of melodies and scales, played by musicians preparing for the second act prevented concentration. Manon looked down, and down, and down towards the stage. She couldn't see the musicians, half-below the stage. (yes, you can, even from the nose bleed seats, in both opera houses.)
Manon and Rosie came to Massenet's "Manon" to put them in the mood for their upcoming trip to Paris. Manon loved the drama and the tragedy. She first read of the story in French class and dreamed of a passionate love that would last forever. She hoped for excitement; she wanted great things to happen. But she didn't know how to start.
I hate this device of opening a book within a book. It's the literary equivilent of a dream sequence. Combined with the lack of plot, the error in detail, this is a form rejection.