It’s time to make the scary switch from hibernating with my laptop to getting out into the world and selling my novel, Unlawful Things.
I’ve spent years muttering ‘Um, well, it’s sort of a thriller,’ whenever anyone asks. Now it’s time to be out and proud about it, to make it sound like something you’d want to read. My first real foray into the world of publishing will be at Winchester Writers Festival in three weeks’ time. I’ve booked four one-to-one sessions with agents and publishers – terrifying and exciting in equal measure.
The first task was to craft a submission letter and synopsis. I’d already researched the agents and publishers I will be meeting, so I tried hard to personalise the letters. I read some of the authors they represented, and thought about how my novel might fit into the types of books they published.
The synopsis was a struggle. There’s loads of advice online and elsewhere about how to do this, so you’d think it would be easy. But the advice is so contradictory. Some tell you to include the whole plot outline; some say a general idea of the themes is sufficient. Some say it should be 500 words or less; others ask for 3 pages. And how do you reduce 100,000 words to a page or two anyway?
Eventually I thought I was happy with it, but sent it to a wise (and published!) friend for advice. Her words? ‘Stop telling, start selling’. She urged me to up the ante, explain why people should care about my heroine’s quest, stop being polite in my synopsis and use the visceral emotion of the actual book. She was right, of course, and I re-wrote. It sounded much more exciting. Now those words will be on the desks of four people who might – just might! – think it’s right for them. I’ll let you know how I get on.