My book is finished – finally – and my first three chapters are edited and ready to go so now I’ll just send it off to agents and publishers, right?
Nope, not yet. I need a cover letter and synopsis first. After researching and trawling through the Writers & Artists Yearbook with a highlighter only to alter the colour of entire pages I put together some notes to help me get everything together to send off my book. I decided to make a blog post from my notes to help anyone else who may be at the same stage – or about to be.
I hope you find this helpful. I also hope I find this helpful!
- Very Important – First contact with an agent or publisher – ensure you’re submitting an excellent, economically written, confident sounding cover letter
- Address who you’re contacting by name
- “I am enclosing a novel called ‘X’, which is an *insert genre here*”
- Refer to writers you feel you’re similar to but make sure you don’t come across as arrogant: “I write in the genre of X X because he/she is a writer I read and hugely admire.”
- Let them know that you know and admire what they already publish
- State where your book would fit in their list
- Mean business – show you have thoroughly researched the market
- What’s your USP – Unique Selling Point
- Believe in yourself. Be convincing
- Include a brief, interesting biographical note about yourself in the cover letterNote: Provide a fuller biographical note which sits at the end of your synopsis page :
- 50-200 words
- Mention what you do
- Your age
- Anything else that makes you sound interesting
- As a rule err on the side of brevity
- Provide a brief summary followed by a more detailed synopsis.
- Important to clarify the genre of your book i.e. thriller, crime, young adult. It’s OK that this has already been mentioned in your cover letter but state it again here.
- 30-75 words
- What would it say on the back of your book?
- More detailed
- 350-450 words
- Do not give a chapter-by-chapter account
- Give a detailed overview which clearly and concisely conveys how your story flows and unfolds
- Most importantly get across what is interesting about your book
- Reconfirm when the story is set i.e. contemporary or historical
- Setting and background
- Central characters – what’s interesting about them, what happens on their journey
- Brief reference to other characters directly pivotal to the plot
- Highlight the dramatic turnings points
- Any other information which will help convey;
- What kind of work it is
- How well imagined your characters are
How well thought through and alluring the plot is
Now I know what I have to do so the next step is to actually do it! Wish me luck!
I hope you find this helpful if you’re putting together your cover letter and synopsis and if you have any other helpful hints and tips for the submission process they would be hugely appreciated.