PDA

View Full Version : Query and Synopsis: A Quandary



Lycoplax
05-03-2012, 08:55 PM
In doing research toward querying agents/agencies, I've found myself a little confused. You see, almost all of the advice I've gotten says to include a little back-cover or book-jacket style blurb that sums up the book in the query letter.

I get that. But what about in the case of an agent/agency who asks to see an attached synopsis of the book with the query letter? Wouldn't the blurb be redundant then? I've got a while to go yet before I totally get my head around this query business, but this particular question has got me slightly baffled.

Quickbread
05-03-2012, 09:10 PM
The separate synopsis goes into greater detail than the short one in the query. It gives the agent a clearer sense of how the plot unfolds across the manuscript, and as a result, whether it's something the agent wants to take a look at. A great idea can fall apart in the execution stage, and the synopsis can show them this at a glance.

Although it's tough to write, I think it's wise to have a one-page (single-spaced) synopsis ready when you start querying because some agencies will ask for it, so you'll want to be ready if they do. It's also a great exercise in reviewing how well your plot really comes together.

quicklime
05-03-2012, 09:13 PM
In doing research toward querying agents/agencies, I've found myself a little confused. You see, almost all of the advice I've gotten says to include a little back-cover or book-jacket style blurb that sums up the book in the query letter. i disagree with this already, because a query and a blurb are differing pitches, for different audiences. Read up in SYW in the sub-forum called "Query Letter Hell" and you will see this discussed a lot.

I get that. But what about in the case of an agent/agency who asks to see an attached synopsis of the book with the query letter? Wouldn't the blurb be redundant then? I've got a while to go yet before I totally get my head around this query business, but this particular question has got me slightly baffled. a query is an enticing pitch, a 30-second character sketch designed to show us who the protag is, what they want or need, and what's in their way. This often puts them in the shitstorm, which doesn't encapsulate your entire book vey well. A synopsis is a summary. Start at start, end at finish, summarize what is in between. The query isn't quite the same in content or style.


again, go check out QLH, especially the stickies.

HoneyBadger
05-03-2012, 09:35 PM
Agents will often say on their sites "make it like a back-cover blurb," but they don't really mean it. Like, explaining queries as blurbs to friends and family is fine; they don't need to understand what they are to understand what you're up to.

A query is to a blurb as a blurb is to the one-line description of a tv show episode: similar but not really.

Lycoplax
05-03-2012, 09:53 PM
Okay. I'm still a bit fuzzy on the whole, but less so. I certainly got what I needed for the question I asked. I've skimmed QLH before, but I'll take a closer look at it. Thanks for the help.

Quickbread
05-03-2012, 10:34 PM
If you want to learn what makes a winning query, I strongly suggest checking out QueryShark. If you read through every single post, you'll really get it by the end.

http://queryshark.blogspot.com/

Little Ming
05-03-2012, 10:58 PM
In doing research toward querying agents/agencies, I've found myself a little confused. You see, almost all of the advice I've gotten says to include a little back-cover or book-jacket style blurb that sums up the book in the query letter.

There's a thread in QLH that addresses this directly, but I'm too lazy to look it up right now. :tongue

But the gist of it, is that the back-cover blurb is more vague, more cliched, because it is meant to appeal to more people. There are less specific details, more board generalized language.

Whereas a query to an agent needs to set your novel apart. It needs to be more specific, more detailed, it needs to show how your novel is different from all the other hundred (or more) queries sitting on the agents desk.

Also, a query is a essentially a business letter. You are pitching for the agent to go into business with you. You are showing them a product that will make money. You need to be professional. Use proper grammar. Don't have spelling mistakes. You need to show them that you are going to be a client they want to work with. Don't be cute, don't be stuck-up, don't be delusional about yourself, your novel, the agent or the industry.

If you think I am exaggerating, check out slushpilehell (http://slushpilehell.tumblr.com/).



I get that. But what about in the case of an agent/agency who asks to see an attached synopsis of the book with the query letter? Wouldn't the blurb be redundant then? I've got a while to go yet before I totally get my head around this query business, but this particular question has got me slightly baffled.

A synopsis gives away your entire story, from beginning to end, all the characters, all the plot twists, everything. The query letter just needs to hook the agent enough to get look at the pages. It does not need to give away all the plot points, all the characters or the ending.

Lycoplax
05-03-2012, 11:59 PM
I'm aware of Query Shark and Slushpile Hell. Thanks for mentioning them, I'll go back and really have a look at those.

And Little Ming, thank you very much for your input. I think I actually get it now. It's almost agonizing how non-specific the advice for query letters is out there... I mean, I know there is no singular 'success formula' for this, but I'm clearly not the only one who stepped into the dark and chaos of this process and went: :gaah


I'm so happy I found this forum where I can get concentrated answers from people in a similar boat.