Updated November 3, 2021
A masochist created the synopsis. His spawn created the query letter.
Before I continue, I am going to ask you one question, what is success to you as it pertains to your writing career? Do you want to be published by a traditional publisher, ie Simon and Schuster or does just having your books up for sale and people buying them equal success to you? Do you have to see your book in a mortar and brick store or are you happy with online retail stores? I encourage you to figure out that answer, no matter what way you to choose to go.
No matter which route you ultimately choose, traditional or Indie, you still need to know how to do a query letter, synopsis and CV. Now this topic alone will make you question why you are doing this. I found that writing a query letter and synopsis was the hardest part of the writing process.
Google query letters and synopsis, and start there. The Query Shark blog has some really great information about query letters with examples. Writer's Digest also has some really useful information concerning query letters and synopsis writing.
After several different versions of both, I later found John Gilstrap; author of the bestselling series The Jonathan Grave Thrillers. He posted his query letter and his synopsis on his website. Using his layout I reworked my query letter so that it fit me and my situation. I don’t have the work list he has so I had to improvise and get creative. I do have some things that lend to why I write in my genre, and that is what I highlighted. I had a synopsis completed. I used his to tighten mine and make it more concise. (my query letter is posted under resources if you want to see what I did with mine.)
In my quest for an agent, I have come across a few that require a CV. What is that you ask? Curriculum Vitae or resume. But not just any resume. It is a writer’s resume. Now I am not going to even try to explain this. (Because the CV was created by the masochist’s little cousin), but I have someone who can explain it very well. Bang2Write spells out how to put one together. This was a very easy understandable way to write a writer’s CV.
Once you have these items written, you need to do some research on agents and publishing houses. I suggest you check out Writer's Digest Guide To Literary Agents. This is a great resource. Go through it and find all the agents/publishers that you want to query. Then go to their websites and follow their submission guidelines. Each one will have different requirements.
Many agents and publishers want you to submit to only them. If you do submit to others, some just want you to tell them you are simultaneously submitting. Here’s my opinion on this. I get they want to be the only one you are submitting your work to, but when they take three to six months to respond to my query letter, it would take me like, fifty years to find an agent. I want to be respectful, so at the end of my query letter, I place a single line that says, this is a simultaneous submission.
With that said, I do not recommend submitting to over ten at once. I found the top ten I wanted to submit to, ans started there. The first few months I submitted ten sometimes twelve a month but no more. I did that each month or every three weeks.
There are some publishers that will take submissions without an agent. A Google search will give you several to check out. Alexandra Romanov has a great article to get you started.
Okay, bad news. You can’t talk about query letters and not talk about rejection letters. Get ready, you will get them. I don’t think there are many like John Gilstrap who got picked up on the first try or so. But you don’t have to let rejection letters steal your joy.
I know my manuscript is polished and ready to go. I know my product is good. I have learned that my books will appeal to a certain group of agents/publishers/readers. They will not appeal to everyone. When I first started getting rejection letters, they were the generic auto response ones, and they devastated me. I began to question if my work was good enough to continue. Since I have rewritten my query and synopsis, I have been getting actual personalized rejection letters. I cherish those. I just have to find the right fit.
My next post will deal with Indie publishing vs traditional, and why I started out there and how I am doing now as an indie author. This is neither a good nor bad choice. It is merely a personal choice. But you need to be informed, and I will try to do that from an unbiased point of view.
Do you want to read the last post in this series over Indie or Traditional publishing? Click here.
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NOW GO WRITE!