Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Writing a synopsis

I have been told a Synopsis can be very difficult for most authors to write, myself included. The following information was shared with me from a Acquisitions Editor, so I am sharing it with you.

Synopsis are always written in the present tense. They introduce the
main characters, tell why it is important they be in the story, what
they want to achieve, and what/who is trying to prevent their doing
so, and how, in the end, they overcome the hurdles set in their way by
inner and or outside forces. Synopses outline key elements of your
story, telling facts and events in clear and consecutive order as they
occur from the beginning right through to the end. They do not include
any dialogue. If the story is more complex, you could tell me what's
happening to characters A & B, then begin another paragraph with:
Meanwhile, characters C & D are doing, seeing, learning, hearing...

Secondary characters need not be introduced unless their presence is
vital to the plot foundation. They can be glossed over with such
phrases as "friends encourage/discourage" one or more of the main
characters to/from taking a particular course of action, but...

Holding back surprises of any nature for any reason is not the way to
go. As I explain to all authors who want to withhold key elements in
an attempt to intrigue me, their acquiring editor, I'm not in the same
category as a customer in a bookstore, to teased and tempted into
buying your book. Nor are you a reviewer, who needs to be careful not
to toss out any "spoilers". I require *all* the pertinent information,
including any shocking, surprising, and unexpected twists Please be
assured, this vital plot information will never be revealed to anyone
else if your book is contracted and even more importantly, if it is
not, but it is something I need to have in order to make a fully
informed decision. A full, complete synopsis allows me to seek out
plot holes you might be unaware of in that you're close to the
material and don't see it at once step removed.

I hope this helps.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Manuscripts must be pretty close to perfect to have a minimal chance for acceptance. With the publishing industry so overwhelmed by the vast number of submissions, manuscripts can be rejected for the simplest of reasons.

Formatting can be crucial; the overall appearance forms the publisher’s or agent’s first impression of both your manuscript and you, its author. Many publishers and agents, prior to reading a single word, fan through the pages to see if any particular format issues standout. Your manuscript can be rejected without even a single word being read.

Publishers and Agents read a never-ending stream of submissions, and font variations can make the eye strain difficult. Your manuscript must be easy on the eyes. A Courier New font is far easier to read than a Times Roman. Most Publishers’ or Agent’s won’t waste their time on a poorly formatted manuscript when there or so many others available. It’s easy to stuff a rejection slip into an envelope. If you send in a well formatted manuscript you increase your chances of having you manuscript actually read.

First your manuscript needs a title page that features your name, mailing address, e-mail address, and telephone number in the upper left corner, all single spaced.

Give an approximate word count in the upper left corner.

At the middle of the page, centered both vertically and horizontally, print the novel’s title in all caps, followed by “By” on the next line, and then the name under which you wish the book to be published, be it your name or which ever name you choose.
For example:(ignoring the lines I had to put in to get it spaced right)

Your name----------------your approximate word count
Your mailing address
Your e-mail address
Your phone number

-------------------------By your name

Second your manuscript needs what is known as a “header.” It’s the very first line appearing at the top of each page. It lists your name to the far left, the title of your book anywhere to the right of this and the page number,
such as:

Coburn/Neill------After the Mist------Page 11

It’s easy to create an automatic header in most processing software, from the menu at the top select “View,” then “Header and Footer.” Your header should start on the first page of your manuscript not on title page.

Indent each paragraph a full five spaces. This is the most widely accepted method.

Chapter titles are reserved for non-fiction only. If you are a fiction writer and have not received that best selling title yet simply number your chapters don’t give them names. Once you’re a best selling author you can get away with just about anything.

Separate your scenes and paragraphs with a space break.

Begin each chapter at the vertical middle of a clean page and fill the remainder of the page with text. When a chapter ends start a new chapter on the next clean new page.

Studies have shown that excessively long paragraphs are unappealing to the eye and can be difficult to read. Break up long paragraphs into one or more separate paragraphs.

Lastly you might want to consider having your manuscript edited by a professional. It’s your call, but I can say it improved our manuscript immensely.
I used 'Book Editing Services of Michael Garrett,' he is as he claims, honest, professional, affordable and thorough.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


With overwhelming statistics facing us, how can we stay focused and not get discouraged?

• Agents reject 99% of everything they read.
• Editors pass on a large majority of what agents send them.
• Fiction, especially debut fiction, almost never gets picked up, unless your platform is already incredibly strong. Having a fan base of 25,000 daily blog readers would help, but that's out there.
• Only 10% of first-time authors actually sell through their advance.
• Only 8% of published writers make a living through writing alone.
• Knock that down to 1% for a comfortable living.

I am probably not sounding very motivating right about now. But these statistics are out there for all of us to see. We can either let them overwhelm us, or be determined not to be one of those statistics. I hope we can all ignore the numbers and continue to work on the words. What do we focus on: fear-inducing statistics, or the love of writing? The love of writing must be our primary focus.

Most of us will get many Form rejection letters. After all look back at the statistics, 99% of agents reject all they read. It doesn't mean they hated it. Or hate us. It doesn’t even mean our stories stink. Almost all best selling authors have enough rejection form letters to fill a book. Form rejections, unlike personal rejections, do not need analysis. They don't require us to destroy our work and start over.

They're very polite, at times seem almost apologetic and sometimes they seem a little easier to except than a flat no, but in reality what the agent is clearly saying is a simple, No thanks.

What a form rejection letter simply means to me is, that I'm going to query again. Find new agents to send my work to. I know my agent is out there hiding and it’s up to me to find him or her.
Every No I receive is one step closer to the Yes waiting.

Monday, July 26, 2010


My co-author decided to share our book with someone without my knowledge. We never shared the entire book with anyone before. We’d given them a taste of the book to promote interest, but wanted them to wait until it was in print to read the rest.

At a birthday party I was approached by the woman who’d read the book. She announced to me that she had just finished it. Through my shock, I asked her if she liked it. Much to my delight she told me very enthusiastically that she loved it.

She went on to express her feelings of the parts that worried her, parts that made her nervous, parts that made her laugh, and parts that gave her Goosebumps. She spoke about the characters as if she knew them personally, as personally as we knew them.

She got it, the parts that were meant to bring anxiety did. The twists, for her were intense. The characters that were meant to be loved, she loved. How rewarding this was to hear.

I can’t wait to share our story with the rest of the world; to introduce to them our invisible friends, and make those friends visible in their eyes also.