- On August 28, 2020
This past month while I’ve been working on my book The Vermicular File, I’ve also been laying the groundwork for a new agent search. Finding professional representation can be difficult and time-consuming, but I know firsthand it makes a huge difference in a project’s success. Literary agents know the markets, have inside contacts among publishers, and are up-to-date on who’s looking for what. I’ve gone both the ‘traditional’ and the self-publishing route, and for me there’s no question: the agent experience was exponentially better!
So I’m getting all my editorial ducks in a row, starting with the first rule of agent-hunting: DO NOT even THINK of sending out a proposal unless and until the manuscript is COMPLETED. Having a ‘terrific concept’ or an ‘original idea’ or a ‘unique style’ is not enough. Agents don’t sell concepts or ideas or styles, they sell highly-polished, ready-to-publish manuscripts. So, I need to get my novel done, and hopefully that will happen within the next few weeks. Then I’ll move on to a task almost as challenging (maybe MORE challenging?) than writing a 75,000 word novel — penning my book’s synopsis.
A synopsis is basically a summary. It includes the main characters, plot, setting and resolution. This condensed recap gives potential agents and / or publishers the feel of the story so they can decide if they’re interested and want to see more. Unlike a ‘blurb,’ which often offers open-ended questions and tantalizing teasers, the synopsis should be concise, complete and written in plain language. Oh, and it should clock in at 500 – 800 words! Anything shorter wouldn’t be sufficient to cover all the bases, anything longer will likely be discarded unread.
Sounds easy, right? After all, if I can pen 300 pages of action sequences, complex character development, thrilling conflicts and unexpected plot twists, how hard can it be to produce a few paragraphs of outline?!? Well, EXTREMELEY hard, actually! The challenge is deciding what to include, what to leave out, and how to make it all coherent and interesting without sounding over-hyped. It’s no small task.
It’s back to the manuscript for me, hoping to finish those last few chapters. Then, with any luck, I’ll come up with a synopsis that sings and be on my way to landing a terrific agent!