Monday, June 30, 2008

Slush Pile

I turned myself into a gibbering wreck yesterday researching the submissions process. The Ours was amazed:

"You've written an entire novel but you're freaking out about a synopsis?"

"But I haven't a CLUE how to write one! Don't you SEE, if the synopsis is WRONG the agent or publisher will LOB it in the BIN before they even read a WORD of my novel! It's all a COMPLETE waste of time, I might as well GIVE UP right now -"

Cue The Ours handing me a paper bag to breathe into and giving me a Jolly Good Talking To. (Yes, he's English.)

My mistake, as always, was ignoring the second Golden Rule of writing - One Step At A Time (TM)*. In other words, there's no point worrying about it until you get there, and when you do you'll figure it out. No matter how tight of a corner you've written your characters into, how awkward your premise is to explain, and how your novel is a collection of ten short stories so the request of three sample chapters by agents/publishers makes no sense in your case (guess which one is my problem?) it will all come out in the wash. Hopefully.

But just in case you're subbing at the moment, or if you want a quick peek at what all the big fuss is about, here's a brave and generous article by Daniel Clay where he shares the submission letter and synopsis that helped him escape from the slush pile.

* The first Golden Rule is: There Are No Rules, which comes in helpful when it feels like there's an infinite number of (often conflicting) rules about writing, editing and submitting your novel, and if you don't follow each and every one of them you haven't a hope in hell of getting published so you might as well GIVE UP right now. (Ignore the fact that the second Golden Rule contradicts the first one. That's writing for you.)


CL Taylor said...

My advice for writing a good synopsis is to share it with other writers and ask for their feedback. When you've finished your novel you're so close to it you think everything is important to the storyline and everything needs to go in. What you need is a fresh pair of eyes to say, "I think you can cut this subplot" or "I'm not sure what you mean by this sentence." I swapped mine with SallyQ (and she sent me hers), it was really useful. If you need a fresh pair of eyes feel free to email me yours.

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

Thanks for the link. I think it's lovely of Daniel Clay to post this as writing a synopsis and submission letter is so hard.

Anonymous said...

Ah - we English types are very good at the 'jolly good talking to' :-)

Have you thought about self-publishing as a parallel form of promotion while going through the submissions process? Through a print-on-demand company like

My cousin's a journalist/writer and he did just that, so he had something to show people when networking (ick - I hate that word).

Yvonne said...

Calistro, thanks a million for your offer and I'll definitely take you up on it when the time comes, you're a star!

Debs, I'm glad he did because it did help lower my blood pressure!

Jen, he's a jolly good champ! ;) I am thinking about it if I don't get published through the traditional means, I've got my heart set on it that way for the moment. Lulu is great isn't it? Really easy to use.

Karen said...

I would happily pay someone to write a synopsis for me....sooooo hard to get the tone right, I find. Interesting link though :o)

Yvonne said...

Karen, I'm not looking forward to it to be honest, but I'll just have to block it out!