Moving on – into the land of queries and synopses


Yesterday I exposed my heart and spoke about my personal bout with low self esteem, and how it can beat a person up no matter how much the person tries to stay positive.  I had so many responses, by e-mail and on my blog, and it warmed my heart to know I’d touched so many people.  Some of you opened up about your own moments of low self-esteem, others tossed out some great advice, but what struck me the most was the love and the compassion that came pouring out of every one who responded.  It hit me last night how truly blessed I am.  My words were read by 136 people yesterday.  That’s a lot for me.  Over half of those 136 responded.  My e-mail had 21 more messages this morning, thanking me for opening up my heart and letting the world see ‘me’.  I even picked up a few new followers who said they would have never heard about me if it hadn’t been for this post.  I guess whoever said ‘write what you know’ knew something about this writing business.

Today I awoke with a whole new outlook.  I’m wrapping up my short story and starting on the dreaded synopsis and query for it.  I’d rather give birth to a fourteen pound baby, but it is something I have to do.   I have 9 paperback books in front of me, all flipped to the back cover.  I’m taking notes on the blurbs, trying to decipher the code that makes the hooks work.  There is a rhythm that I found in each one, a cadence, that reads like a finely choreographed waltz of words.  It is an art, a whole different style of writing.

It’s marketing.  It’s selling the story.  It’s

writing at its best.  No pressure there, right?

I found Charlotte Dillon’s site an amazing source of information on writing queries and synopses, as well as Rachelle Gardner’s.  I’m sure I will be referring to them a lot today and tomorrow as I wrap this piece up.

Are you good at writing synopses and queries?  What’s your secret?

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15 thoughts on “Moving on – into the land of queries and synopses

  1. Keep going. I have the same problem, so does my daughter. I’m floundering with my writing, but there’s no doubt it’s getting better. I bet yours is too.

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  2. I completely understand. I bought a query book and it didn’t do a bit of good. My best luck came from online formats. I found some query letters that seemed interesting to agents and I borrowed those.
    Good luck! You’ll find it!

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  3. Hi Jenny,
    I think you’re going in the right direction. When I’m working on my synopsis I study other authors’ blurbs on the back. Especially those books that have similar plots. I think we’re all subject to self esteem glitches. Stay strong! And by the way, I’m glad you like my blog site. I’m the author of Shiloh’s Secret. I’m just like you, swimming through the publishing world, trying to figure out how to reach my target audience. I know I’ll make it someday. So will you.

    ~Erika

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    1. HI!!! Thanks for visiting and responding. I love your site. I think I’ve written six different queries today alone and hated every one of them. I feel like Dory in Finding Nemo: just keep swimming, just keep swimming

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  4. Jenny, I read your blog post yesterday on my iPhone in the car during a 10 hour drive (as a passenger). There was no way to respond adequately with a touchscreen keypad, so I waited. Although we are barely more than strangers, I care about your struggles. The writing I’ve seen from you is eloquent and has tremendous worth (IMHO).

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  5. You’ve gotten some great advice above about the query/synopsis business. I think having others cps/betas read it over after your finished is the best way to go. They often can help you “spin the phrase” on what works and what doesn’t. I am so glad you’re seeing an outpouring of caring, we all need to stick together. Sometimes we forget, we’re not each other’s competition, but supporters in this crazy world we’ve chosen to pursue.

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  6. CJ Redwine has a killer online class on query writing. I got to attend one of her lectures at the Killer Nashville Conference and she taught me so much about writing a great query. I’ve gotten dozens of requests from my queries, but no agent yet.

    My advice is to draft and redraft and let it breathe and then get feedback from people who have no idea what your book is about. They will tell you if your query is confusing/misleading. GOOD LUCK!

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  7. You’re outlook is fantastic! We all have moments when we think we can’t go any further – those are the moments where strength is our greatest ally.

    I’ve been working on a query letter and synopses for months. It’s not easy to do either, but I’ve found its best to keep both short and simple. Sometimes less is more and can really pack a punch. 🙂

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  8. My personal opinion is not to overthink it. Just write the dern thing. And then pray. ADn then send it to my favorite beta parnter to fix for me. 🙂

    Honestly, any time I tired to overthink it it was just too dern long.

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  9. I am so glad you had such a positive response to your last post and that you have so many caring friends. I’m also glad you’re feeling much better. 🙂

    As for writing a synopsis, I’m not sure I have a successful strategy that I can share. I’ve only written two, one for each book I tried to get published. I have a feeling I was more lucky with the process, although my writer’s group seemed to think they were good. I did read somewhere that a synopsis should be in present tense and the use of adjectives and adverbs should be limited. Keep it simple, focusing on the main story-line thread. That’s about all I can remember, since it was over ten years since I wrote mine. The last book blurb I wrote was a couple of years ago and I remember that being only a few lines, at most, describing the main plot line. That’s probably not much help, though.

    I wish you luck & if you don’t have a critique partner to read yours over when your finished with it, I might be able to help. 🙂

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  10. I suffer Synopsophobia, Jenny. Big time. Last year, when I was in contest entry mania, I had two weeks to complete an synopsis for THE MOLLYs (Denver). I piddled with it so long, I ended up finishing it with only 30 minutes to spare. Then, when I pasted additional copy into the document (to meet contest deadlines), I found myself with 20 minutes to cut four pages from my submission. ACK!

    I received great (and simple) advice from a friend who judges contests on what they look for in a synopsis. Let me know if you want an email with a snapshot of what she told me.

    But, it sounds as if you have your sources lined up.

    Go get ’em!

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