2.17.2006

When to send a synopsis if it's not mentioned in the guidelines

Dear Miss Snark,

When first submitting to an agent, I know you submit a query letter. I also know you've made it quite clear to submit what an agent specifies as well- be it ten pages or the first three chapters. What I don't know is if you submit a synopses with your query letter, etc. or wait until they've replied saying they'd like to know more. Would you please clear this up for me?

Give Killer Yapp my regards and a t-bone steak. Oh, and I've entered you in a random drawing for free gin. (What kind of gin and did I win? KY says thanks for the T-bone.)



A synopsis is by request (ie it's in the submission guidelines) , or if you are asked for a partial.

The query letter is to figure out if you can write.

The partial is to figure out if you can write more than ten pages and your plot holds together.

The full manuscript is when we get down to the nitty gritty of does THIS novel work, and do I think I can sell it.


13 comments:

Anonymous said...

The query letter is to figure out if you can write.

?!*#!? That's just wrong.

Miss Snark said...

Well, it's not wrong. It's exactly what it's for. What did you think it was for?

Dave Kuzminski said...

This is one of the few areas where I disagree. The query letter is not really meant to determine if the writer can write. It's to make an offer of material. First three chapters or first ten or fifty pages generally serve that purpose of determining whether a writer can write since the skills for query letters and novels are somewhat different even though both use the basic skills of putting words in an order that makes sense.

Simply put, the query is a menu from Cafe Writer offering you an extremely limited choice of entrees. If you order, then you get to taste (either partial or whole manuscript) without obligation. Only if you like it (choose to represent) do you then have the obligation of trying to sell it.

Anonymous said...

The query letter is to figure out if you can write.

Seems like the novel is to figure out if you can write, and the query letter is to see if you can market said novel to a literary agent.

I used to get really pissed off that you had to get as serious about the query letter as the manuscript. But then, I used to get pissed off that I had to eat my peas if I wanted dessert. Some things you just gotta get over it already.

Miss Snark said...

Sorry guys but the query letter is EXACTLY what tells me if you can write. I don't wait till a partial let alone a full novel.

I get many many query letters from people who cannot write well enough to merit further attention.

By query letter, let's remember I don't mean cover letter only; I mean the first ten pages too, since "query letter" is shorthand for "round one".

Anonymous said...

I don't mean the cover letter only; I mean the first ten pages...

Aha.

Mr. Snort (again) said...

Ah, so here's the magic question. When they say "It's not a good fit," or "our roster is full" is this agent saying "you can't write a query to save your a**", or do they actually mean it? Oh for an agent-author dictionary. Heck, I'd write one but it'd never get past the query stage. Sigh. Now, where's that quarter...

Dave Kuzminski said...

Well, since you're accepting the first ten pages with the query letter, then you're actually accepting a partial. Judging only by what I've seen of many writers' query letters, very few would even be considered qualified to write. But judging by the first ten pages, that's a totally different matter and it appears we're actually saying much the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mr. Kuzminski. It's reassuring to know I'm not the only writer who has a lot more trouble with query letters than with actual copy.

Bella Stander said...

Of course the query letter is an indication of writing ability. I find it hard to believe that someone who's written a brilliant book couldn't crank out at least a semi-brilliant query letter.

(Cool! Word verfication sounds like "Rocksox soxer.")

noel anonymous coward said...

Bella, the problem for most writers is that we've read lots of brilliant books and know what they look like. But in general, we've hardly read any query letters but our own.

Miss Snark said...

There's a slew of cover letters and first pages in the first two rounds of the crapometer in the Snarkives. Dig in!


Word verification sounds like: saggy b
oi

The Beautiful Schoolmarm said...

I'm almost to the point where I like being able to just send out a query letter first and then, if the agent is interested, send a partial (And or synopsis). It's much easier on postage and paper. It seems to be a better use of the agent's time.

word verification sounds like: lack gas waxes