I’ve been re-drafting and cleaning up my query, synopsis, and novel quite a bit in preparation to pitch my book.
With my first writers’ conference coming up next month, I want to focus on improving all my pitch materials to get some feedback from fellow writers and other folks in the industry. My stuff needs to be awesome before mid-September (or at least awesome-ish).
Over the last month or so, I’ve made a few observations which taught me (or reinforced) the following lessons:
1. You cannot write a good query without first having written a proper synopsis.
Alright, maybe you can, but it’s very unlikely. I found that after revising my book numerous times and writing multiple synopses for it, I was much better able to condense the more-interesting bits of my novel into the form of an agent query.
If you can’t condense your work into two pages and make it sound interesting, how can you possibly condense it into half a page?
If I may say so myself, my current query is many times superior to my original. I’m not surprised the six agents I queried sent me rejections (yeah, I only sent queries to six agents; that was about a month and a half ago). Well, four of them sent rejections, the other two just ignored me altogether.
2. Your work will never be good enough for you.
Every time you read through your manuscript, query, or synopsis, you will inevitably spot a bunch of things to be improved.
However, this doesn’t mean you should just say “@#$% it” and submit it to agents as is. It means you should revise repeatedly for a “reasonable” amount of time until things are very solid (maybe draft 7 of the query, draft 4 of the synopsis, and draft 8 of the manuscript), but don’t wait until you think it’s perfect.
There is no perfect (unless you’re somewhat delusional).
3. You should be able to pitch your manuscript orally.
After finishing draft four of my manuscript and speaking to writers and family about my novel, I realized I wasn’t able to give a compelling answer when people asked, “So, what’s your novel about?”
With a few more drafts of my novel and query done, I think my answer to that question is pretty awesome now.
I’ll have to write it out and try to memorize it soon (pretty much a dialogue version of my query; how hard could it be?).
4. Character driven novels without a crazy premise are hard to pitch.
Mainstream, commercial fiction generally relies on its premise more so than anything else, often leaving feasibility, character development, and prose as secondary priorities. In writing my book, my priorities were flipped around, and it left me with a premise that couldn’t be summarized into a good one-or-two-sentence hook. After major revisions, I believe I’ve remedied the problem.
4. Business cards are fun.
Yep, I got some writer-business cards. Makes me feel fancy.