Writing: Arsenal

Your manuscript is polished, beta read and the best work you can do and you have a finely tuned query. You’ve done your research and have a list of agents ready to query.


There are a few other documents you need in your arsenal before you begin.

Most agents may ask for a one page synopsis. Basically one to two pages which lays out the basic plot of your story including the resolution. While the query is intended to titillate, the synopsis must reveal all.

You will also want to want to prepare an extended synopsis. Two to five pages that allow you to say all you want about the your plot, characters, subplots, setting and whatever else you feel is important for an agent to know about the story.

Also useful to have on hand is a chapter outline.  An agent may ask for this so they can get an overall feeling for how the book will progress and how well you interweave and wrap up your story. Basically a one to two paragraph description of each chapter.

And of course, a completed manuscript.

When querying, the most important thing to remember is to FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS for submitting your work. It’s heartbreaking to get a rejection but even more so if the rejection comes from not sending the exact thing. Agent websites usually detail this out on a submission page. It can vary from just the query to a certain number of words or pages. Some agents refuse to accept attachments and want everything placed in an email.

Remember when pasting items into an email, they may lose their formatting. The best gift you can give an agent when submitting your query is lots of white space. Just like a book, your eyes tend to wonder when confronted by large blocks of text. Anything you can do to make it easier for an agent to continue reading will only benefit you.

Finally and probably hardest to remember is to not give up. Even when confronted by numerous rejections. There are many anecdotal stories of authors who, on the brink of giving up, finally found the right agent for them.

In a time when most agents accept email queries, rejection can sometimes catch us off guard. Especially when it arrives so quickly after submission. Just as we select and reject potential suitors, the agent-author relationship is one which we should carefully consider. Not just whether they believe in our work but whether they will be the best person to steward and also to understand our vision for our work. Will they grow with us and support our growth? Are they only interested in one manuscript or sticking with you through your entire career?

While the internet is full of advice on how to locate and find agents, authors are often left to sort out these relationships on their own.

I wish you all good fortune and great luck in 2016! Fighting!