Anyway, back to my point. Unlike my first novel, this time around I'm launching a precision attack on the publishing industry. Instead of querying every agent that handles the genre, I'm researching authors with similar novels, or authors whose careers I'd admire. Then I find out which literary agent represents them. I write a personalized query letter with a blurb about my book, the word count, some of my credentials, and how I admire their client and why my writing is similar to theirs. Notice I said similar, I'm not claiming to be the next Stephanie Meyer, nor a cross between Scott Westerfeld and Ally Carter. I mean, what the heck does that mean anyway?
I'm not going to post my query letter here, but I can tell you, it took me 4 tries to write it and it's darn good. I'm happy with it. I'm debating on mentioning the book I wrote is the first in a series. I probably should, in the sake of full disclosure.
Query letter done, several agents have been identified for my attack...now I look up their submission guidelines because agents are so busy that they look for reasons to toss out your work. I'd hate to be tossed out because I didn't follow the rules. Some agents require email queries, some snail mail, some require the first five pages, some need the first 30...and worst of all, some agents require a synopsis.
Welcome to my hell. A synopsis is usually a 1-3 page summary of your novel. The entire novel condensed into a few pages. Actually, it's really like 1 page. It's best to keep the synopsis short because agents have a limited amount of time, and if you are able to summarize a 74,000 novel into a single page, while keeping it consistent with the tone and voice of the book, that's the mark of a great writer. Brevity is the soul of wit, right?
Yeah. Query letters I can rock, but not synopses. Let me give you an example. This is my trying to condense The Sorceror's Stone into a single page.
Harry Potter is an orphan who has never had a birthday party or friends of any kind. The only life he's known is at the hands of his unloving aunt and uncle, who force him to live in the cupboard under the stairs. Harry's life is about to change when he receives an invitation to attend Hogwarts, a school for witches and wizards.
Well crap. Anyone reading this is going to wonder what Harry Potter has done to deserve an invitation to a school like that. I better include the part about the zoo.
Harry Potter is an orphan who has never had a birthday party or friends of any kind. The only life he's known is at the hands of his unloving aunt and uncle, who force him to live in the cupboard under the stairs. During his cousin's birthday trip to the zoo, Harry imagines the glass for the reptiles' cages disappearing. The next thing he knew, it came true!
Harry's life is about to change when he receives an invitation to attend Hogwarts, a school for witches and wizards.
And I've taken up WAY too much space summarizing the first scene in the book. I have the whole sorceror's stone plot to jam in here yet. To hell with it. I quit.
There is a plethora of advice out there on how to write a good synopsis. here, here, here, here, and here for starters. I've read them, and I've come to one conclusion: If you want a good synopsis, have someone else write it for you.
In the meantime, I unfortunately have to cancel the attack on the agents who require a synopsis. Either that or decide what would be more damaging- a badly written synopsis, or leaving out the synopsis entirely?