Sunday, August 16, 2015

Synopsis Writing

Quite a few people are realizing their dream of writing a novel. We have been inundated with queries in the last three or four months.

There are two things that beginning authors fail to do before they query:
  1. Dust and polish their ms. (I have written several blogs over the years about this, and no doubt, I will write about this again.)
  2. Write a professional grade SYNOPSIS.
After hours, days, months, and often years writing the ms, it is worth the time to research what comes next. I just googled SYNOPSIS and found many useful links regarding synopsis writing.

Here is my version of the basics to a synopsis in a nutshell:
  1. A synopsis is a one page document
  2. It is single spaced lines
  3. It is written in third person
  4. It tells the summary of the whole story from beginning to end
  5. Yes, it tells how the story ends
  6. It introduces the main character
  7. It tells who the antagonist is
  8. It tells the conflict that starts the story for the main character
  9. It tells what the goal is for the main character; what they need to resolve and why
  10. It tells the barriers to reaching that goal; the antagonist's actions
  11. It tells the setting
  12. It tells the time period
  13. It tells the genre
  14. It tells the word count
What a synopsis is not:
  1. It is not a vague paragraph about why the ms was written
  2. It is not about the author or their writing experience
  3. It is not the back of a book blurb
It has come to the point that we are not responding to queries that do not have an adequate synopsis. Previously, I wrote a reply asking for a synopsis. Sometimes the person would respond that it was in the query letter -- um, no it wasn't or I wouldn't have asked for it and it is a standalone document.
Since we are receiving so many queries that we could spend the whole day with that one task, we are not moving past the inadequate synopsis to read the sample chapters. We are a small publisher. We don't have time to spend on an incomplete querry -- sorry. I think of Cactus Rain Publishing as a proving ground for the writer to gain experience and move on to bigger and better things.
We are not a "for hire" publisher. Our money goes into publishing our books. Honestly, writing to us that your lover, parent, or high school English teacher loved your ms isn't the same as them putting their money and expertise into your project. I don't care who else loved your ms, what has to happen is that Judith and I love your ms.
We don't publish a ton of books a month. We don't crank them out like some sort of paper version of a puppy mill. What we publish is damn good. We contract out some pieces of the process to experts in that area. Again, what we publish is damn good.
We are looking for writers who read the submission requirements on our website:
We are happy to work with first time novelists. However, we do expect that person will present us with their best, professional quality work. 
Write your best work. Give it your best pitch to us, another publisher, or a literary agent. You can do this. This is the next step.

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