Please welcome guest blogger Stacey Kade
The dreaded query letter and synopsis. I don't know any writer who enjoys writing either of these things, and if one exists, I'm pretty sure she's an alien. :) But they are a necessity in the publishing industry, and learning how to make them work for you will only help in the long run. (And with querying, most of the time, you're in it for the long run. :) )
The key, I've found, is to think of them less as a letter and a summary and more as sales tools. I worked as a marketing copywriter for more than ten years, and one of the things that job taught me was to look at the entire chain of events/communications between the seller (you) and the buyer (agent/editor) rather than just the initial contact. If you look at your entire correspondence (or desired correspondence) with an agent or editor, the query letter and synopsis are just the start. I don't know of any agent who has signed an author based on their query letter and synopsis alone (though, heck, it's possible, I suppose. Almost anything is!)
So, rather than looking at your query and synopsis as a single do-or-die communication into which you must jam every possible detail about your book, consider it more from the perspective of what you want it to do. On the simplest level, you want this agent or editor to ask you for more, yes? Preferably a full, but most likely a partial (the first three chapters.)
Your job is to intrigue them into asking for more. Now, this does not mean you should inaccurately represent your book or writing style, but that you should be as intriguing and as fun (or poignant and erudite) in your query materials as you are in your novel.
That's what your query letter and synopsis should do--give the agent or editor enough to want to learn more--while still providing them with the information they require (usually set out on the submission guidelines on their web page).
Another important tip for querying is to make your letter as personal (and professional) as you can for each agent or editor. (Do not write one mass email or letter and send it to everyone. Please.) I know that sounds like a lot of work--and it is--but there are certain tricks that'll help and keep you from starting from scratch every single time.
Join me January 3-17 for Secrets to a Winning Proposal. You'll leave with a draft of a query letter and a synopsis, not to mention tips and tricks to make the proposal writing process a little less painful! :)
As an award-winning corporate copywriter, Stacey Kade has written about everything from backhoe loaders to breast pumps. But she prefers to make things up instead.
From her first childhood scribbles about a magical necklace that would turn people into cats, Stacey has long been fascinated with what happens when the “ordinary” bumps up against “out of this world.” What if aliens landed on Earth? What if the afterlife is really just another dimension?
She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Greg, and their three retired racing greyhounds, Joezooka (Joe), Tall Walker (Walker) and SheWearsThePants (Pansy). When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll likely find her parked in front of the television with her Roswell DVDs, staring rapturously at Jason Behr.