Sunday, 6 February 2011

Having Trouble With...

Covering letters. Not for jobs, although those are hard too. Just ask my blogger buddy Jade. I'm talking about writing ones. I am talking about Dear Publisher, my name is X and you should most definitely want to publish my stellar book.

Specifically, I'm finding synopses difficult. I know my story inside and out like the back of my hand. How am I supposed to be able to decide what a publisher will find the most intriguing about this story that has been well and truly in control of my life for nearly three years now??? Just how?

But, as difficult as I find it, I must persevere. And so, I wrote this charming little piece... sarcasm intended.

"A young boy captivated by the romantic history of his parents sets out on a search for love in the summer of 1937. The love of his life turns out to be the daughter of the town bully, and her cold aversion to his advances sends him looking for answers in battlefields on foreign soil. While a prisoner of the Japanese in Singapore, the boy learns that growing up is something one must do on their own. He returns to Fremantle later in the war only to find that everything has changed— especially his own heart."

Now don't get me wrong. For all intents and purposes, that IS my book. But I'm not selling it right, if you know what I mean. I'm not mentioning that my book has bullying, licentious women, blackmail, attempted rape, a prison break, 'ghosts' and a 90 year old man going into cardiac arrest at the sound of his first love's name.

I've since rewritten this synopsis, mostly for the purpose of sending a letter of introduction to someone in the biz... it's a complicated situation but when opportunity knocked, suffice to say, I answered the door. And I thought the letter was okay, and so did the person who proof read it, but I am a realist and I am not getting my hopes up. But in between writing these two synopses, I came across a great little blog that helped me at least build a template to work on. Find a near perfect example of a cover letter here, if like me you are struggling.

Has anyone else been in the same boat? Any tips or suggestions? Much appreciated everyone.

Coming to you live from my home, back in Australia and back at my desk...



  1. Good luck with your literature degree and wish you the very best of luck when you get your book published :D ~

  2. mmm yeahhh I'm glad you re-thought and re-wrote the synopses. It kind of makes me think "romantic novel set in the 1930's..." with all the emphasis on 'love' in the first two sentences and the constant description of each major experience entitled in the story. Feels like you may be pushing too much 'drama' out at once. And that can be a headache to read, because if all the drama is forced on the reader in one blow, it becomes kind of melodramatic...
    Though I'm hardly the wiz at knowing what the publishers are looking for, I think to reel them in with a 'BANG' and then towards the end be a little more illusive about 'what happens' in the story, seems like a way to go, no? Provokes interest to see it to the end so they know what really goes on ;)

    btw, send me the latest draft. you haven't in a while! xx

  3. Watched this webcast a few days ago. more based on freelancing but parts might help out.

  4. Synopsis and covering letter are two different things. Synopsis needs to nutshell the storyline of its chapters (an expanded step sheet, perhaps)and include the end.

    The pitch letter is more about whetting the appetite. It's telling the story two sentences and then delivering a really good reason for the agent/publisher to investigate further.

    This example from Nathan Bransford is pretty good. You may want to 'Australianise' it to some extnt. (For example, I'm not convinced about pigeon holing your genre).




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