Cool Green Ink

When you're done with your novel...you're not really done!

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.

AUTHOR'S 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.

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Mary Klein | Reply 14.10.2013 19.58

You my friend, are blessed! You have put such a positive spin on what could have been a terrible tale. You must have good work yet to do in this world.

Mary Senneka | Reply 09.10.2013 09.00

Other than moving to Muk-town, how can I get you to be my son's teacher?

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Latest comments

04.08 | 15:44

Hi mr rod vick,
Thanks so much for the books and the free book i finished them all, and they were all so good. THANK YOU
jaia

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14.10 | 19:58

You my friend, are blessed! You have put such a positive spin on what could have been a terrible tale. You must have good work yet to do in this world.

...
09.10 | 09:00

Other than moving to Muk-town, how can I get you to be my son's teacher?

...
27.06 | 14:16
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