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Author Topic: query question
Lynda
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I've finished my novel and polished it many times, sweated blood over the query letter and synopsis, and I think I'm ready to approach agents now. I've read many places that you should include your writing experience (to prove you can produce the goods, even if the writing wasn't for money) and any marketing expertise you have, such as speaking in public. I have two huge fanfiction novels online that have tens of thousands of readers (literally) worldwide, many of whom are eager to read my original novel. It seems to me that it would be a good idea to mention this in my query, but I haven't found any reference anywhere that says mentioning fanfiction in your query letter is a good idea. But those stories created a huge fan base for me, and I keep in touch with those readers. They're eager to read my books. Is it a good idea to include this information or not? As for the public speaking aspect, I was a professional singer for years, and I'm a professional sculptor now and sculpt in public all the time, answering questions and explaining the process as I work. I can't see book signings being much harder than that, so I think it's worth mentioning that I have this experience. So do any of you have answers for my questions? I plan to send the queries out in a day or two, so fast answers are most appreciated!!! Thanks!

Lynda


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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This webpage has some very good advice about queries:

http://www.kitwhitfield.com/publisherdating.html

Also, only include background information that is directly relevant to what you are sending. If your story involves sculpture or singing, then mention your experience. If it doesn't, don't mention it. Editors are really only interested in PROFESSIONAL publishing credits.

Mention the fanfiction fan base when you've sold the novel and are talking to the publicist. Don't mention fanfiction to the acquiring editor. Same for the public speaking experience. Those things are of interest to the publicist, not the editor.


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Lynda
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Thank you so much! I wondered why some sources said to include such info in what was, to me, kind of an introductory letter! I've done so much research I'm dizzy, and so many sources have conflicting advice. Yours makes excellent sense. Thanks again, and I will check out that link.

Lynda


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Mig
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I also recommend that you peruse through the site and archives of Miss Snark, the literary agent who has a great regularly (pretty much daily) blog at http://misssnark.blogspot.com/

I would probably mention the fan fiction, and the connections you made with it, briefly in the context of how you would assist a publisher in marketing the book.


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MaryRobinette
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Ditto Kathleen, particulary this.
quote:
Mention the fanfiction fan base when you've sold the novel and are talking to the publicist. Don't mention fanfiction to the acquiring editor. Same for the public speaking experience. Those things are of interest to the publicist, not the editor.

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sholar
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Check out the Comparing query letters to pickup lines thread. I found that link interesting and funny.
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Lynda
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Okay, so now I have a question about the outline. One of the agents I want to query wants the first five pages and an outline. I don't outline to write. So now I'm trying to outline each chapter, but it's coming out in paragraph form - I never was good at outline format. What's the proper format for an outline (an "after it's written, this is part of the query submission" outline)? Thanks!

Lynda


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wbriggs
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From OSC: an "outline" is really a synopsis. It's in present tense; it tells the whole story, but in summary format. Not details -- "John uncovered evidence of an assassination plot against the President," not "John's informant Joe said, 'They're going to kill the President!' while they were eating at Mickey D's."

The challenge for some is to tell what matters, especially why we care, but not details.

Good luck!


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Try listing the major turning points of the story, then write a few sentences of set-up, a few sentences for each turning point, and a few sentences on the resolution.

Example:

A youth finds out that a family heirloom is actually a dangerous weapon, so he resolves to take it to people who know how to deal with it. He is accompanied by three friends and he collects others who help him overcome obstacles along the way.

After finding out that the only way to deal with the weapon is for someone to take it deep into enemy territory and destroy it there, he learns that he's the only one who can do the job, so he sets out. He is guided through many adventures, first by friends, but later by someone who also desires the weapon and who betrays him, just as he is supposed to destroy the weapon. They struggle, and the weapon is destroyed accidentally by the betrayer.

He returns home with his three original friends, and all four have been changed by their experiences. The way they have grown and what they have learned give them the wisdom, courage, and strength to make sure that their home is safe from the evils they have battled out in the world.

Set-up, turning points, resolution -- more or less.

(Probably more, because you will want to go into more detail in your own "outline.")

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited September 01, 2006).]


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sojoyful
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Not that I'm *anywhere* near this stage with my writing, but I'm curious about how you would do the same thing for a novel with alternating timelines. Say it is broken into 10 parts; all the odd parts are the 'present' storyline, all the even parts are the 'past' storyline.
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Lynda
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So how long is the outline then? One page? Multiple pages? And thanks for the concrete example, that's a great help, Kathleen!

There has to be a difference between an outline and a synopsis, because some agents want both! So what's the difference? Thanks for the help!

Lynda


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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sojoyful, you would explain at the start, before you actually gave the "synopsis/outline" that you have a ten-part story with alternating timelines, odd parts for one, even parts for the other, then synopsize the two timelines.

Lynda, a synopsis/outline can be as long as four or five pages (and it doesn't have to be double-spaced the way the manuscript is, because it isn't going to be typeset--double-spacing is to help the typesetter).

Exactly how does an agent word the request for both an outline and a synopsis? Maybe what they are referring to is something more detailed (possibly even chapter-by-chapter) in an "outline" and a blurb-like summary for the "synopsis?" If that's the case, my example above might fit the blurb-like summary.

If they don't want you to send the complete manuscript, and even if they do (more about that in a different paragraph), most editors and agents ask for either a query, which would have the blurb-like summary (one page at most), or a "partial," which is the first three chapters (or 20 manuscript page) and an outline or synopsis of the rest. And outline and synopsis mean the same thing.

Even if they want the complete manuscript, it's a good idea to include something like an outline so that if the editor likes your book, he or she can use the outline to give other people on the editorial board an idea of the book without them having to read the whole thing.

So when you've finished your book, you need to come up with a short (one-page) summary for query letters as well as an outline or synopsis to go with a partial or the complete manuscript.

And you can get feedback on your summaries and your synopses here at Hatrack, too. Just open a topic in Fragments and Feedback, explain what you are asking for feedback on (don't bother with the 13 lines), and email the summary or synopsis to those who volunteer to look at it for you.


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Lynda
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Thanks, Kathleen! I have the synopsis at 5 double-spaced pages. Single-spaced is okay? YAY! Thanks!

I have just discovered another problem - I'll start a new thread for it.

Lynda


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