Writing a great query letter and synopsisJanuary 26, 2010
Manuscript update: I miss it! I miss working on my story. But I got another book idea yesterday, so that’s exciting. I’m trying to refrain from running off into another book just yet, though, as I’ve still got the query letter and synopsis for my current book to perfect.
Please note in the sentence above that I didn’t say I had to “write” or “finish” or “compose” the synopsis and query letter; I said I had to “perfect” it.
The query letter is the first impression an agent and/or editor is going to have of you and your writing. It’s the key to the first gate — for want of a better word — to get through, and it better be perfect because it has to shine through a lot of others. As an example, in the week of Jan. 22, agent Jennifer Jackson read 108 queries and from those, requested 1. That’s right, you read it correctly, there’s no typo. Jennifer requested only 1 manuscript out of 108 query letters. To be that 1 that gets a request, your query letter has to be perfect.
As for the synopsis, not every agent requests one, but for those that do, it can represent the key to the second gate. The synopsis tells the agent that you can write a coherent story that flows and has all the necessary elements to make your book a bestseller. It must show that flow, the plot twists, but also, it must give the agent a taste of the characters and emotion of the story. It should be exciting enough for the agent to want to read the full manuscript — even though he/she already knows the ending.
So, that’s my task right now, to perfect my query letter and synopsis. It’s not as much fun as writing my book or even as revising my book, but it’s necessary and can make the difference between a yes and a no.
What are you working on?