7.30.2006

"This and only this" parsed out


Dear Mss Snark:

I started querying two weeks ago for my first novel and received, in addition of course to a few rejections:
- a request for the first 50 pages, a bio and a SASE;
- a request for the first three chapters;
- a request for the first five chapters; and
- a request for a full.

I was told that it is important to send an agent EXACTLY what he or she wants, no more, no less. That is what I did. Since nobody requested a synopsis, I did not send one.

Now I read that you are ALWAYS supposed to send a synopsis with a partial or full. Is it true? If so, should I follow up with the agents in question to apologize and send one now? (no) Are there any other items that, even when not requested, should accompany a full/partial? (twenty dollar bill) Of course, I always send a cover letter thanking the agent for his or her interest, which seems self-evident, but am I missing something essential here?

Thank you in advance.



If someone requests a full ms, it won't kill you to send a synopsis. It won't kill you on a partial either.

Mostly this "only send what we ask for" is cause people will send the stupidest damn things in the world if you don't just hammer them with "this and this ONLY". To wit: rocks; CDs, videos; stuffed animals; and hand crafted portfolios showing several options for the cover of the book. Mind you, this is the initial query letter.

And this doesn't even address glitter, folders, express mail return envelopes for unsolicited 500 page novels and chocolate treats that have melted and hardened four times in the varying temperatures in transit.

Three extra pages for a synopsis isn't a deal breaker. You start interpreting that to mean three extra pagodas with incense..then you're toast.


And if agents want something you haven't sent, they'll ask. That's why you list your email address and your phone number on the cover letter.

6 comments:

Carmen said...

"...and chocolate treats that have melted and hardened four times in the varying temperatures in transit."

Yummy!

Seriously, please tell me this doesn't really happen...

Splat said...

Are there special rules, tips, and tricks for writing a great synopsis?

Karla Andrich said...

Plus, goddamn, two weeks and four nibbles? I want to be you.

Sal said...

Are there special rules, tips, and tricks for writing a great synopsis?

Couldn't find it (!!!) in the Snarkives http://snarkives.blogspot.com, which is the first place to check.

Miss Snark gave good critique when she ran sacrificial synopses through the Crapometer last December. Herewith the link: http://misssnark.blogspot.com/2005_12_25_misssnark_archive.html

Start at the bottom of the page and work your way up. Or vice versa. Your choice.

Anonymous said...

Splat asked:

Are there special rules, tips, and tricks for writing a great synopsis?

Yes. Some of them boil down to:
1) Tell, don't show.
2) If the book has a dark, urban tone, use at least some dark, urban tones in the synopsis. On the other hand, if the book is all snark, showcase some sass and snark in the synopsis.
3) Start with a slightly expanded version of your query letter blurb, especially if it sets out the initial problem/conflict. Go through the major plot turns and epiphanies. Reveal the mystery at the end--no coy suggestion that the recipient needs to read the full to see how it turns out.
4) Don't explain the motivation or background of the villain's long-dead first lover. Only the protagonist(s) and antagonist(s) rate having goals or motivation set out in a synopsis.
5) Don't name anyone you can describe as "TS-Eliot-Spouting Kid Sister," or "RollerDerby Queen mother-in-law," or "the pansexual wheatsprout-monger next door"
6) Avoid quoting dialogue.
7) Ask one of your crit buddies to write a one-page or two-page synopsis (and be prepared to reciprocate!) of your story. Then compare the crit buddy's to yours, and then start over from scratch.

Elektra said...

Rocks? ROCKS???