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Query letter and synopsis

You've finished your manuscript and you've made the decision to look for a literary agent. Make sure your query letter makes the right impression with this selection of articles on agent submissions and what not to do.


Approaching a publisher

You’ve written a book and you want it to be published. So how do you set about it? Where will you send the typescript? Michael Legat offers guidelines on how to make contact with a publisher for the first time.

Before you get in touch with any publisher, do your market research and find …

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Can I Submit My Manuscript By Email?

Most of my manuscripts are still delivered to me as weighty brown-paper bundles. The postmen around here hate me – I live right at the end of a cul-de-sac – right at the end of a route, and have the heaviest parcels in the village. God knows what they think I actually do.

Today I’ve …

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Dear agent of my dreams

A submission letter can be a terrifying hurdle to overcome in the journey towards possible publication, but there are some simple steps you can take to make it less of a chore.

For this blog I’m going to focus on five very practical elements of a submission.  If you read this and …

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Do Literary Agents Want to See a CV?

You may already have a CV on file. If so, it’s probably left over from when you last had a proper job, so begins with your formal education and progresses through the jobs you did, in order, concluding with your interests.

Start again. As an author trying to engage interest, you need to …

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How Do You Attract the Attention of a Literary Agent?

Many agents have been publishers themselves. It follows that they like to specialise (usually in the kind of books they used to publish, or those in which they have a strong personal interest) and that they have an encyclopaedic view of the industry.

You can find a list of agents in …

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How not to Send in a Synopsis

It’s a tough fact of life as an aspiring writer that often a submission gets no further than the bin or the delete button on an agent’s computer.

In fact there are certain ways of writing a synopsis that guarantee I will reject a submission point-blank.

A synopsis is NOT like the …

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How not to send in a synopsis

It's a tough fact of life as an aspiring writer that often a submission gets no further than the bin or the delete button on an agent's computer.

In fact there are certain ways of writing a synopsis that guarantee I will reject a submission point-blank. A synopsis is NOT like the blurb on …

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How to Present Your Submission

I hesitated over whether to include the following information; what follows may sound blindingly obvious to the reader. But after consultations with various publishers and agents, and hearing repeated instances of writers not thinking through when and what they send, guidance is perhaps needed …

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How To Write a Covering Letter

Literary agents will read the manuscript you send, and some the synopsis, but all will read the covering letter. Writing an effective one may take you a long time, but it is well worth the trouble. 

The whole thing should:

  • Be well written – you are writing to people who care about …

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Know your market

When an agent approaches a publisher to enthuse about a new author, they will have to justify the claims they make on your behalf. The newer the feel of what you want to write, the harder they will have to work: it’s not good enough to say ‘everyone will want to read’ this new title. So, …

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More Tips for Submitting Your Writing

1.       Most houses ask for manuscripts to be double-spaced. Other houses want two or three chapters printed out in normal spacing, and will only require the double-spaced version if they want a closer look. Read their entry in the Writers’ & …

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Preparing your book to be sold

In my previous articles, I’ve described how I got a book deal off the back of a blog and explained why I decided to take on an agent. Now I’m going to throw out my ideas about making the first pitch to either a publisher or an agent. This is not in any sense to suggest that I have the …

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Query Letters - What, Why, How?


In his penultimate blog post for Writers' & Artists, Simon P. Clark discusses where you should go with your finished masterpiece - and how to finally get past the literary agent's front door.


With your manuscript finished – finished and polished – it’s time to start looking for …

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Simon Trewin on Writing a Covering Letter

Once I get through the hyperbole and overblown salesmanship of most covering letters, it is all about my relationship to the prose.

In the case of fiction (which it usually is) I am looking for a voice. Simple as that.

I am not so concerned about plot or setting to begin with – I just …

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The right kind of publishing house

Most publishing houses specialise. There are very few that publish poetry, and not all publish fiction.

Being specialist allows them to work on the kind of books they like (it’s their money they are spending, and however much you might wish they would publish in your area of writing, it …

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The Slush Pile

Most publishing houses receive a huge number of unsolicited manuscripts every day. Collectively they are often known as the ‘slush pile’.

There are stories of manuscripts being taken from the slush pile and turned into best-sellers, but it has to be said that these are told because they …

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The Submission Process Explained

Rocking Chair Books

Submission.  

That sounds apt.  Sending out your manuscript can feel like some sadomasochistic event.  

You’ve spent tons of time with your characters, you’ve had the voices in your head, the landscape of their lives, and suddenly you’re typing two incredible words:  The …

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View from the editor's desk

What happens when your submission arrives at a publisher? Will it impress them? Mohana Rajakumar, a publishing director for a new Bloomsbury venture, shares her insider know-how.

Recently I began working for a publisher, which has put me on the other side of the desk. For the past five …

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What is a synopsis? And WHY are they so hard to write?

It’s the first thing an editor or agent sees, it’s a vital part of your submission process (along with your covering letter), and it’s fiendishly difficult to get done!

In some ways, it’s easier to talk about what a synopsis isn’t. It’s not a book blurb, designed to entice you in …

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What is in the ideal submission package – and what isn’t?

Have you been thinking about submitting your work to an agent or publisher recently? If so, does the prospect fill you with fear?

Don’t despair – you’re not alone. It takes a different set of skills to put together a good submission package than to write a book. There are obviously some …

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Write a great synopsis

Most publishing houses and agents specify that a synopsis should accompany any manuscript submission. What exactly a synopsis consists of is much less clear. Here is some guidance on how to prepare one.

For fiction

This should be an outline of what kind of book you are writing; it is not …

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Writing for the Fashion Business: Part Two

Writing for the fashion business

Kristen K. Swanson and Judith C. Everett, authors of Writing for the Fashion Business, have shared two exclusive extracts with Writers & Artists. In this second part, we take a look at the query letter. Take a look below for advice on writing the perfect submission.


Once you feel your proposal …

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