To submit to a publisher you will need:
A Query Letter
The First Few Chapters of your COMPLETED manuscript
We’ve talked about Query Letters, but what about the ‘synopsis’ you’re asked to include with your submission package?
A synopsis is a succinct summary of your novel. It should include the setting, the main characters, the plot as well as the main subplots, and give an indication of genre and atmosphere. When writing a synopsis, focus on being brief while hitting the highlights without sounding like you’re just listing out plot points. Somewhat like a sports announcer gives a play-by-play to summarize what happens in a game, a synopsis should break down what happens in your novel in an engaging way.
Isn’t a synopsis the same as a blurb that you might find on the back of a book?
No, actually. If you’re good at writing engaging blurbs, that’s a good place to start, but blurbs contain questions meant to hook the reader into wanting to know more. A synopsis shouldn’t leave too much to the imagination, it should answer the question ‘what happens in this book’ and it should tell the person reading it how the novel ends and the plot is resolved.
How long should a synopsis be?
However long the submission guidelines are asking for. No longer, but shorter is okay as long as all the information is covered.
Typically submissions guidelines ask for a query letter, a synopsis, and the first 1 to 3 chapters of a manuscript. Why only the first few chapters? Can I send any three chapters I want? Or just send the whole manuscript instead?
It’s best to send what the publisher or agent is looking to see and generally they will always want to see the beginning. The reason for this is to see if the story and the writing grabs them. Typically, an editor or agent can tell within minutes of reading the first few pages if the book is what they are looking for and if the writing has the strength needed to ‘hook’ them. Also, if they start at the beginning of your book and can’t follow along, they know that there’s a problem. The opening to your story should be strong, engaging, clear, and hook your reader as soon as possible, preferably with the first line or first paragraph.
If an editor or agent likes what they’ve read, they will request the remainder of the manuscript, which is why it is crucial to have the book finished and as polished as you can make it before submitting. You don’t want to miss that window of opportunity when it comes.
For a more in depth discussion on this topic, check out the latest episode of Mirror World News:
While you’re there, check out this interview Murandy Damodred and I did with Adam last week: