Another sample query letter

Below is another sample query letter from one of our upcoming novels, Damewood: Demons of the Past. This query not only gives a pretty good idea of what the book is about, it is written in a format that makes the reader think about what the author is saying, not just processing the short synopsis.

The best part of this query is that it jumps right into the novel. It does not open with “I would like to offer up for consideration of my novel…” or “My name is Joe, and I have been writing since I could hold a pencil…” By going right into the “hook,” it demands attention and forces our eyes to go on, wanting to read more.

Dear Mr. Ishitani, Acquisitions Editor;

What if, in the not to near future, modern civilization were to come to an end? The technological advances of mankind have flourished beyond the highest expectations, and have escaped the controlling hands of the human race. Cloned humans and genetically engineered creatures prowl the lands, while androids and security systems move beyond the known parameters of Artificial Intelligence, pushing the earth over the edge to a third World War.

What if, though, the world did not understand this? A world that, after a prohibition of science and technology spanning nearly four centuries, had regressed to a feudalistic state unaware of its advanced past. A land that lived in fear of mutated “demons,” of shadowy forests, and of the frost destroying their spring crops. A land where only the secret of society’s past is known by a few trusted officials and mentors—who seem to have their own agenda on the upcoming successions of thrones.

What if there was a young girl who would strike out on a mission to save her kingdom and to find the answer? Nadia, the eldest princess of Damewood flees for her life after the castle is attacked by an underground cult of revolutionaries bent on bringing society back to it’s “roots.” Disguising herself as a knight, she joins a hunting party along with her “demon” horse to put an end to the massacres and retrieve a stolen key that will unlock the mysteries of the ominous Order, and the history of her people.

Cloning, world-ending wars, and futuristic technology has never been more popular as can be seen with recent books and movies such as “Armageddon,” War of the Worlds, and “I, Robot,” my novel Damewood: Demons of the Past takes those stories one step further by delving into the mind of a young girl from a land that turns its back on the ideas of race, country and technology, and is thrown into the midst of these issues with no warning or protection save her sword and trusty steed.

Thank you for your consideration of my novel. If you would like to see the rest of the book, I can be reached via phone or email. I look forward to working with you.

Sincerely,

Erin Durante

How to write a novel synopsis

Below is a kind of question-answer article on the basics of a synopsis, how to write one, and what editors look for in a synopsis. Any questions, please post!

Why do you need to write a synopsis?

It provides prospective editors/agents with an overall and detailed summary of your novel, introduces the characters, plot and setting, and gives a brief glimpse at your writing style and ability.

When should you write the synopsis?

Either before you write the book, during, or after. Though chances are, if you start writing it at the beginning, you will have to do some major revisions as your plot changes, characters come and go, or you scrap one of the scenes entirely.

If you start writing the synopsis before the book, it will serve more as a guideline or outline for your writing; just be sure to remember that it’s not set in stone, and that you can make changes to both the plot and synopsis. Though it does help to have a basic one-page “draft” of the “stuff” in your novel to refer back to as you work.

So, what exactly is a synopsis?

As stated above, it’s a short 1-2 page summary of your novel that provides prospective editors/agents with an overall and detailed summary, introduces the characters, plot and setting, and gives a brief glimpse at your writing style and ability. It’s extremely important because editors want to know exactly what happens in the book; it is not the same thing as the back blurb on a printed book. It gives out much more information and details, no cliffhangers.

What tense is it written in? What about perspective or style?

The synopsis is usually written in present tense—this way it makes a bigger impact on the reader, and will push the action forward more in such a small space. It can be written in either first or third person—that really depends on how your book is written. For example, if your book is in third person, you don’t want to write in first person. As far as style, try to mirror the style you use in your manuscript, this way the editor gets an idea of what the rest of the book will be like, and whether you have mastered that particular writing style. In other words, if your book is humorous, dialect-bloated, or dark, make sure the synopsis is the same.

What do you need to accomplish in the synopsis?

Several things, actually. And since you only have 1-2 pages (depending on the house) you need to do it quickly and cleanly:

1) Introduce your main characters

2) Introduce main conflicts

3) Explain the overall plot

4) Describe setting: time, place, world, etc.

5) Give a clear idea of what the novel is actually about

6) Include the conclusion. Tell who wins, who dies, what happens to everyone and why. Cliffhangers are hated—and will cause a manuscript to be rejected nine times out of ten.

Should I put characters names in ALL CAPS?

This really depends on each house. Some publishers like it to call out the names of characters, and to bring attention each time a new character is mentioned.

We at Leucrota Press hate it. We feel ALL CAPS belong in a script, not a novel, and that it’s distracting and unprofessional. You shouldn’t have to call out your characters name to bring attention to him/her—if you wrote the synopsis clearly and coherently, the writing should point them out on its own. You don’t need blinking signs and screaming kids to make an editor pay attention to your synopsis. That all depends on your writing.

How should I structure the synopsis?

1) Put your name, the manuscript title, and a contact number or email address in the top header. Be sure to keep it short—as you’re taking away space on the page from your summary.

2) Start at the beginning. Open your synopsis with the beginning of the book, telling what starts the plot moving forward, introduce the characters as they come, and the subplots as they arise.

3) Make sure your paragraphs flow logically and smoothly to the next, so that the editor isn’t distracted by choppy sentences, or has to go back and reread a paragraph if they get lost.

4) Use transition sentences. (If you don’t know what those are, stop now and break your writing hand so as to stop the madness.)

5) End with the ending of the novel. There is no need to explain the ending, why you chose that to happen, go into detail about the last scene, etc. Just say what happens at the end.

A Checklist for your synopsis:

1) Does your first paragraph contain a hook to grab the editor’s attention?

2) Do you mention all of your main characters?

3) Are the conflicts clearly defined?

4) Have you described where the story happens? When?

5) Are all of the main subplots mentioned?

6) Have you touched on every major advancement in the plot?

7) Have you said what happens at the end?

8 ) Check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

9) Check your tense—make sure it’s in present.

10) Is your name and the title of your novel on it?

11) Reread it. Sit back and think about it. Does it sound like a book you’d like to read? Does it stand up to some of the other books that you’ve read and loved?