After a year and a half, I finally finished my eighth re-draft of The Book of Invasions, my adult thriller/mystery novel that sends a 25-year-old physically and psychologically beaten loner, Alby Crowe, on a race across Egypt, Germany, and
Ireland to find a terrifying, 5,000-year-old scroll ahead of the members of a cult bent on destroying the world order. The hard part is over, right?
Not so fast. Yes, it took time to write and polish the drafts, to enlist the services of beta readers,
to conduct research, and so forth. But now that it's time to market the project, there's more work to be done.
Most agents and editors don't really want to see your whole novel...at least not right away. They may want any or all of the following, and
preparing these documents can pose different sorts of challenges.
SAMPLE CHAPTERS - This is a relatively easy one. An editor will often tell you whether he wants the first chapter, the first three, or perhaps the first fifty pages. Since these are already
written, no problem.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY - This is frequently a paragraph on a separate page, detailing one's writing credentials and telling a bit about one's personal life. When a writer has few significant publication credits, this part of the sales
pitch can be challenging. Items that might be mentioned: Published works, writing awards, writing programs or degrees completed, experience teaching writing, influences, hobbies, family details.
SYNOPSIS - This is a bugger: a one- or two-page (at most)
summary of the novel. Yet, it can't simply be a step-by-step recitation of what happened. A synopsis often focuses on where the main character is at the beginning of the novel, what circumstances shake the character out of his/her current existence and into
action (sometimes called an inciting incident), how the major action plays out, how the book ends and where the main character emerges after it all.
COVER or QUERY LETTER - Sometimes, this is all an agency will ask for. Thus, it must be well-crafted
and a superb sales asset. A typical letter will include a brief introduction offering the novel to the specific editor or agent, a brief description of the novel, a description of the author's credentials and platform, and a gracious closing.
PLATFORM - More editors and agents expect an author to be an active participant in marketing a finished book, so being able to describe one's platform has become a must. The platform includes anything the author can do to get her word out or sell the book.
It might include blogging, social media, touring, book signings, teaching workshops, Twitter, radio shows and interviews, etc. You say you have no platform? Then you have MORE work to do.
ELEVATOR PITCH - This is a term common to the business
work, a so-called opportunity to get the attention of Mr. or Mrs. Big if you were stuck in the elevator for thirty seconds from the ground floor to the executive office suite. If you were facing an editor or agent, what would you say in that time frame in
order to generate excitement about your novel? Having a standard 100-200-word grabber of a description gives you an answer. Although you may never find yourself in an actual elevator, you can use it when writing your query, or when you approach agents and
publishers an writers' conferences.