Sending Queries

My agent retired at the end of the year so I’m sending out queries again trying to find a new one. I had to give myself a pep talk in order to start a new round of querying. I know I’m in store for a lot of rejection. If I added up the number of agents I’ve queried since I started writing (35 years ago) I’d be in triple digits, easily. I really hate having to start this all over again. Hence, the pep talk. “If you want other people to enjoy your writing, Anna-Maria, you need to show it to them.” Why can’t agents and editors find me while I’m holed up in my writing cave? Shouldn’t my brilliance attract them, like magnets to iron ore? I’ve got three novels I’m querying on so I had to write three query letters. One is bad enough, but three? Ugh. Synopses and queries are my least favorite thing to write. Needed another pep talk. “Once you get these done, Anna-Maria, you can use them over and over… and over (thinking of all the rejections headed my way) with just minor tweaks to personalize the query letter.” Just grin and bear it and get it done. So I did. (Actually, they came together fairly smoothly. I stressed about nothing. Or else I’m finally getting better at writing these things. I’ve had a lot of practice, after all.) Next, I put together a list of agents. I had done some research on agents about a month ago, so I dug that out. Then I added some agents who had given me some...

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Synopsis

No matter how I try to prepare a manuscript ahead of time for submission, once I start sending out queries I never seem to have the right type of synopsis to go with it. If I prepare a one page synopsis, everyone I want to query asks for a long one. If I prepare a long synopsis, then everyone wants a one page version. It’s the Murphy Rule of synopses. And since it’s the thing I hate to write, even more than query letters, I seem to be doomed to write them over and over again. So what have I learned over this non-ending stream of summary writing? What makes a good synopsis? A good synopsis has enough details of the plot to make the story interesting without bogging it down in confusion. It should start with the hero’s ordinary world, which is then changed by the inciting event—the event that kick-starts the story.  After that comes the first change of direction. Everything up to that point seems to be headed in one direction, then something happens and sends the story off into a new direction. The next part is the middle leading up to the second change of direction where the stakes are upped. This leads directly to the climax followed by the wrapup where you say how the events in the story have changed your character’s life—the summation of his/her character arc. Your synopsis should include the character’s motivation for what they do, and any transitional information you need to link the different parts together. It should be written with the tone/voice of the story so that you convey...