Monday, 15 November 2010

COVERING LETTERS, SYNOPSES AND LEGS

You worry too much about covering letters and synopses, you know. If most unpublished writers took a quarter of the effort they spend researching the perfect templates for covering letters and synopses and devoted it instead to their actual book, they might be published by now.

Let me tell you some simple truths about covering letters and synopses:
There is no perfect template.
If either or both are complete and utter shite, I agree: you won't be published. Because, if either or both are utter shite, it's because you can't write.
But if you're a good enough writer to have written a good book, your covering letter and synopsis won't be complete and utter shite. They just won't be.
So, you might not write the best covering letter or synopsis in the whole wide world and yes, it might even have the odd fugly bit in it, but, if you use your common sense and all the advice you've already read, you will be able to write a half decent one. If your writing is good enough, it will shine above any fugly bits.
If you write a half decent but imperfect covering letter and synopsis, and a GREAT book, it's most likely to be published.
If you write a splendiferously gorgeous covering letter and synopsis and a shite book, it won't be published.
Because, it's all about the writing**.

So, go and make sure your book is great, yes?

** Oh, and having sexy legs, of course. Duh.

17 comments:

catdownunder said...

Oh miaou - now she tells me! :-)
Actually I have to confess I took a deep breath, tried to remember what you said and just wrote (following the instructions on the website in question) and then pressed the send button. If I had not done it that way then I probably would not have done it at all. Of course, ever since then, I have worried that it could have been a lot better - true.
Why am I such a scaredy cat? This business of sending a kitten off to visit a potential family is terrifying - even if I am worrying too much!

Kath said...

Sexy legs? What?! Which means I'd be expected to wear high heels, doesn't it? Gah. Just when I thought I might have a shot at being a writer... I didn't realise my legs had to shine through as much as my writing. I suppose I could hire an author stand-in with sexy legs to be me, she could do all the fun, mingling with the public stuff. Yes, that's what I'll do!

Elaine AM Smith said...

It was all going so well until you got to the legs. :)

Karen said...

Oh this is so true (well maybe not the sexy legs bit in my case!)

I ended up doing a short blurb for mine in the end - a no-no according to the 'rules' - as I just couldn't get the tone quite right, and it didn't do me any harm.

If an agent loves your premise and style they'll want to read more, regardless of how long or short the synopsis is!

Stroppy Author said...

Where do the legs come into it? My legs are OK (at least when I've been eating) but my synopsis skills are not so good. Shd I deliver my synopsis in person so they can see my legs?

JO said...

Phew - so there's no need to rewrite until my fingers bleed! That just leaves biting my nails waiting for replies!

Tony said...

So are you saying, when first meeting your agent, it's best to wear shorts? I mean, otherwise my sexy, hairy legs wouldn't be seen.

Nicola Morgan said...

NOW you're spending too much time thinking about your legs! Concentrate and get back to work, you silly people. Gah!

Marisa Birns said...

What the commenters don't realize it's that you're saying one should write a wonderful book AND wear sexy red boots.

Concentrating and getting back to work!

*rubs moisturizer on legs, too*

Fran said...

Okay, don't have the legs advantage. Will work harder on the covering letter ...

Jo Treggiari said...

I've noticed I write better query letters etc...when I stop agonizing over them so much and just figure out the simplest (and snazziest) way to tell someone what my book is about. Sometimes I just write it as if I was telling someone over a cup of coffee, and then I edit all the boring bits and umms out of it.

Spider Griffin said...

Thanks for confirming what I thought, Nicola! Surprise info about the legs though...might not be up to par there...

:-)

Spider Griffin said...

Whoops; I meant my legs, of course! OK, enough about legs now... :-)

Dan Hollloway said...

Is this different in the US from the UK to your knowledge, when the agent in question doesn't have anything but the query letter to go on? Presumably that makes it much more important to write a biffo query, or do they tend to request a partial if they sense it might be worth looking at?

Whirlochre said...

Last time I wrote a synopsis I was inspired to eat my own head.

behlerblog.com said...

If you write a splendiferously gorgeous covering letter and synopsis and a shite book, it won't be published.

Morgan, I love you. This is so true, it almost brings a tear to me heart - if I had one, that is. I've seen way too many great query (covering) letter and ask for pages with baited breath, only to see that the actual writing is as advertised. Almost makes me wonder if someone else wrote the query.

siebendach said...

OK, time to get offline. And on to the elliptical!!