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The Copyright Page

Is the first sentence in your book the most important? Yes – to the reader. But what page is the most important to a librarian, bookseller or distributor? That would be the copyright page. It carries the copyright notice, edition information, publication information, printing history, cataloging data, legal notices and the book’s ISBN number. Also listed on the copyright page are the credits for design, production, editing and illustration of the work.

Below is a sample copyright page. Take a moment to review it and then we’ll look at each of its parts.

1.   Copyright © 2017 Author Name

2.   All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by reviewers, who may quote brief passages in a review.

3. ISBN 978-0-1234567-0-0 (Paperback Edition)
ISBN 978-0-1234567-1-0 (Hardcover Edition)

4. Library of Congress Control Number 101010101

5. Some character and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real person living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

6. Excerpt from article in Magazine Name by Article Author.
Reprinted by permission.

7. Editing by Editor Name
Front cover image by Artist Name
All photographs by Photographer Name unless otherwise credited
Book Design by Designer Name

8. Printed and bound in USA
First Printing September 2016

9. Published by Publishing Name
PO Box 12345
City, ST, USA 10101

10. Visit http://www.WebsiteURL.com

Now, let’s look at each of these sections in greater detail.

Continue reading The Copyright Page

HOW TO WRITE A QUERY LETTER

The query letter is a single page cover letter introducing you and your novel to an agent. It should not be completed until your novel is ready as it is meant to elicit an invitation to send sample chapters or possibly even your entire manuscript to an agent. It is NOT a resume.

The query letter should give a taste of the plot and demonstrate your own voice with no passivity. It should be only action and forward motion from the very start.

The query letter is composed of three distinct paragraphs – the hook, the mini-synopsis, and the author’s bio, along with an opening and closing. It is important you do not stray from this format.

Opening –

Address your query to a specific agent. Research them online and include something specific about them if at all possible.  Check out their websites, tweets and blog posts along with such sites as AgentQuery and QueryTracker .Customize each query letter. We want the agents to feel like people, not robots.

Paragraph One – The Hook

The hook is a concise one sentence tagline for your book. It is meant to hook the reader’s interest and wind them in. There are several great ways to create your hook. The most common is the “When” Formula. When such and such happens, your main character –with a descriptive adjective, age, or profession – must confront further conflicts before finally triumphing in his or her own special way.

Other great ways to start a hook include: 1) giving era and location or 2) setting up your main character first.

Paragraph Two – The Mini-Synopsis

This paragraph takes your entire novel and condenses it into a single paragraph. Here you can expand on your hook. It is where you give a little more information about your main character, his problems and conflicts and the way in which adversity changes his life.

Paragraph Three – Writer’s Bio

Keep it short and related to your writing. Don’t mention your day job unless it directly relates to your story. Be sure to note if you’ve published a few short stories or won any writing contests or awards. If you have no previous published pieces, it is ok to remain silent in this area.

Closing –

The closing should accomplish two things. First, it should thank the agent for their time and consideration. Second, it should inform the agent a full manuscript is available upon request.

 

Here are some query letter DO’s:

–          DO address query to a specific agent. Try to note something personal about them in opening.

–          DO state the title of your book at the beginning of your query in the hook.

–          DO mention wordcount and genre of book. Novels should be about 80,000 – 100,000 words. YA novels should be 40,000 – 60,000 words. I have seen the wordcount and genre information included at the end of the hook paragraph and also as part of the closing. The main thing is – include it somewhere in the query. If your novel is over these wordcounts you may want to trim it down before you start querying.

–          DO adopt the same tone for your query letter as your book while remaining professional. Show your voice through your query’s tone.

–          DO keep your query to one page only.

If sending a snail mail query, stick to standard business letter formatting. Single-spaced, 12 point font, left aligned. There will be no paragraph indentions but there will be a space between each paragraph. List phone number, mailing address, and email address at top of page. Be sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) with each query.

If sending an email query, it should be about 250 – 300 words long.  It is best to copy and paste your query into Notepad to strip it of all formatting and then paste it into your email and edit it further there. Include the title of your book in the subject line.

–          DO have a fresh pair of eyes proofread your query for typos and grammar mistakes.

 

These are some query letter DON’Ts:

–          DON’T refer to your novel as a fiction novel. That is redundant. Just call it a novel.

–          DON’T sing your book’s praises or compare it to other best selling novels.

–          DON’T send bribes or gifts with your query.

–          DON’T print your query on colored paper. Use standard business stationary.

–          DON’T shrink your font. 12 point is standard. 11 point if you’re desperate.

–          DON’T apologize for your lack of writing credentials. Let your writing speak for itself and just keep quiet if you’re worried.

–          DON’T pitch more than one manuscript at a time.

–          DON’T include sample chapters unless an agent’s submission guidelines specifically say to include them. ALWAYS follow submission guidelines to the letter.

 

 

 

How to Write a Synopsis

BLOG POSTS PIC        I did quite a bit of research about writing a synopsis as I am at that point with A Screen Door Slammed and wanted to share the information with you. A lot of the sites I looked at mention how hard it is to write a synopsis. I am trying to not bite off into this idea. Nobody knows your novel better than you do. That is the biggest asset you have in your corner. Don’t be overwhelmed by the task even though it is not creative writing.

First, let’s think about what exactly a synopsis is. It is your novel’s introduction to the agent, providing key information such as plot, setting, and characterization. It should be concise, compelling, and complete.

The synopsis must cover the entire narrative arc of your story. This is not a jacket cover designed to entice buyers. It is your story’s “elevator pitch” to the agent and should include some emotion and color.

Jane Friedman, former publisher at Writer’s Digest, says a synopsis must accomplish three things. First, it must tell the story of what characters we will care about, including the protagonist and what is at stake for her. Secondly, a synopsis must give a clear idea of the core conflict for the protagonist, including what’s driving the conflict and whether or not the protagonist succeeds or fails in his attempts to overcome the conflict. Lastly, the synopsis needs to show how any conflicts are resolved and how the protagonist has changed, both internally and externally.

Next, let’s talk about formatting issues (in order to avoid a bunch of rewrites), then we’ll look at the steps to writing a synopsis. Finally, we’ll cover some DON’Ts followed by references.

The synopsis should be written in third person, present tense. The first mention of any character should be in all CAPS. Wordcount ranges from 500 – 600 words for a one page single-spaced synopsis to 1500 – 2000 words for a longer one. A general rule is one page of double-spaced synopsis for each 35 pages of double-spaced manuscript. You may want to consider the idea of crafting two, one long and one short.

At the top of each page of the synopsis you should include your name, contact details, and word count. The book title should be centered beneath this on the page. Each additional page of the synopsis should include Author/TITLE/Synopsis in the header. The page number should be inserted in the right top corner.

If you are sending an email synopsis, attach it to your email unless otherwise instructed. Include cover letter with details in the body of your email and be sure to note the title in your subject line.

 

OK, enough formatting. Let’s talk details.

As an accountant in my former life, I learned that the easiest way to accomplish a hard task is to break it down into manageable steps. As you accomplish each one you find you can accomplish the next until the entire daunting task is completed.

Hands down, no holds barred, before you even start on a synopsis you must complete your novel. A synopsis without a novel underneath it is only an outline of a novel waiting to be finished. These are two different things. So before you do anything else, complete and polish your novel.

 

Here are the steps for developing a thorough synopsis.

First, write a sentence or two for each scene, not chapter, in your novel. A typical novel has 60 – 80 scenes. You will mold these into your synopsis.

Second, condense these sentences into a summary. Be sure to use the opening to give a line setting the scene, noting who the protagonist is, where she is and what she is doing at the beginning of your summary. Then kick off with your novel. Include all major plot points. Use the big moments to show how protagonist and her goals are changed by the story’s conflict. Use the closing paragraph to show how major conflicts are resolved by the end of the story.

Third, pare it down some more. Remember, we’re trying to get your entire novel on one or two pages. Read through the combined version with a focus on plot. Imagine beginning each sentence with a because/then structure and insert further explanation as needed.

Fourth, add back in just a touch of flavor by including some emotional details. Show how the protagonist reacts sometimes. Pare down some more.

Fifth, check to see if your synopsis makes sense when read as a whole. Reread it and pay attention. Maybe you want to have someone read it that hasn’t read your book to see if it makes sense to them.

Lastly, let it sit and reflect on it for a bit. If there are any loose ends in your novel, you may wish to tidy them up before you begin submitting to agents.

 

Finally, here are some DON’Ts:

DON’T include every plot point.

DON’T just detail the plot. Add some character emotions and feeling.

DON’T use dialogue. If you must, use it sparingly.

DON’T ask rhetorical or unanswered questions. This is not a jacket cover.

DON’T split your synopsis into parts or list your characters up front.

DON’T all cap your title in the email subject line. Agents think you’re yelling.

 

Okay folks. That’s it. Listed below are some of the resources I used to gather this information. Check them out for further reading on #HowToWriteASynopsis.

 

Caro Clarke  How to Write a Synopsis

Jane Friedman  How to Write a Novel Synopsis

Marissa Meyer  6 Steps for Writing a Book Synopsis

Carly Watters  How to Write a Book Synopsis

Writing Queries

I am starting to query agents for my book A Screen Door Slammed. In light of this I have been searching the web for useful information. There is a lot of it out there! There seems to be a main format running through the query – hook, mini synopsis, and writer’s bio. It sounds so simple but feels so complicated. How do I sell myself and my book on one page?

Here is a blog link I found on literary agent Sally Apokedak’s website about querying. I thought you might enjoy. How to Write a Query Letter Part 1