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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015

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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

Elizabeth Lyon on Query Letters & Synopses

Well-known writing instructor and independent book consultant for the past 20 years. Check out the info at http://www.elizabethlyon.com/. Her first and most referred to book is The Sell Your Novel Took Kit. Her latest book is Manuscript Revision.

This is about front door queries and back door marketing. If you are a hobbyist writer, then get the book as good as you can and self-publish through Lulu. Close the circle so that you really have the book in your hands. If you are a professional writer who wants to market your work and succeed as an author, then you have to learn both the craft and the marketing.

The difficulty in getting a novel published is 99% rejection rate. The authors who succeed are the ones who assume it doesn't apply to them. There are several thresholds to pass in marketing. One is to get past the query and get someone to read it. Second is to get an agent to represent you. Then you need to get the publisher to publish it. (Probably a fourth threshold as well. Audience purchases.)

Once an agent asks for your manuscript, it is an open door. It doesn't need to be done this week. You can send it next week, or next year. Just be sure you reference when you met and that the agent asked for it.

Step one. Write the novel. It will end differently than you thought, so write the whole thing.
Step two. Write a synopsis. In fact, you could write one befoe and after you write the novel.
Step three. Set about to do multiple revisions. Give yourself permission to write a terrible first draft, knowing that you will revise and refine repeatedly.
Step four. Get a critique group, writing buddy, reader, to read the work objectively from outside your world of thought. Professional editing at some point comes in.

Two modes of query letter: paper and email. Looking through the Guide to Literary Agents shows that about one-third prefer to or only take email queries. The paper query is one page long for novels. Do not exceed that. one inch margins, single spaced, double space between paragraphs. Synopsis maximum five pages double spaced. The ideal cover letter would be five paragraphs. Letter has a lead, body, and conclusion, like any other work of non-fiction. Para 1: Lead (hook). Lead must hook the agent. Many agents may not make it past the first paragraph. Decide no in 15-30 seconds. Broad three categories of fiction: Literary, Mainstream, Genre.
2. Transition and first paragraph of a synopsis.
3. Second paragraph of a synopsis
4. Author qualifications
5. Finishing formalities.
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