Lately on Twitter I’ve been seeing a lot of discussion about the writing process, how people go about the actual labor of constructing the book, and how authors revise, edit, and prep their book for submission or self publication. I know I do things a little differently from a lot of other writers, so I though I’d take some time to walk you guys through my personal process. This will be a multi-part series running on Fridays through March and April. I hope you find it interesting, and if you have any questions about any part, please feel free to leave a comment! You can find the earlier parts here.
Every agent, editor, and contest has different requirements for submission. The purpose of this post isn’t to teach you how to query, but simply to show how I prepare for querying and what kinds of materials I put together.
That’s right, it’s time to revisit that very first page from post number one, the blurb. Now that I know what the story is about, it’s time to revise that initial summary and turn it into something attention grabbing. It’s vital to get feedback on your query. I usually enter a lot of query swaps on Twitter, and I also offer query critiques.
The blurb is extremely important because we’re going to turn it into our query letter later. I usually keep mine limited to 3 paragraphs or about 200 words at most.
Yep, time to pull out another document from the very beginning. You final synopsis should be 1 page single spaced. If it is more than 1 page, it should be double spaced, and absolutely no more than 2 pages unless specified.
Confession: I hate writing the synopsis. It’s my least favorite part of the entire process. This is my favorite resource for synopsis writing.
Now it’s time to take that blurb and turn it into your query letter. This is easier than it sounds.
Think of it as a sandwich. Your blurb is going to be the meat or filling. Your bread is going to be the agent personalization, the metadata, and your bio.
From what I’ve read, most agents prefer to have the metadata (word count, genre, age group) in the first paragraph, but sometimes I find it flows better to put it at the bottom of the letter. Use your discretion.
Personalization is key. Do your research. I can do a post another time about how I research agents, but at the very least you need to check out their bio on the agency page. Other good sources include their Twitter page, their #MSWL, and any blogs, youtube pages, or other social media pages they manage, as well as AbsoluteWrite.com. It usually takes me about 20-30 minutes of research for every query letter I send, and I usually eliminate 4 agents or editors for every letter I send.
This can be the most annoying part of the query package, in my opinion. I usually set up documents with the first 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 50 pages of the manuscript, with no indents and hard spaces between paragraphs so they can be easily copy/pasted into an email.