At the end of last week, I got a request from another agent for additional material – this time, a significant sample: 30 pages. Sweet! I’m beginning to have confidence in my query letter and the blurb version of my synopsis (as I mentioned here a couple weeks ago, I have a few versions of it, including a book jacket length/style summary).
Since he requested hard copy, I got my materials together and scurried for the Post Office. What do you need to get together when you send something off, through the strange and archaic system of sticky little pictures and paper pouches that is snail mail, to an agent or publisher who has requested a partial? Well, naturally, you need to send them what they asked for – x# of pages, double-spaced, well-written, spell-checked, clean and unblemished, in a standard 12 point font, with standard margins, with page numbers and your name in the header (or footer) of the pages (starting with the second page). In this case, I was also asked for a full synopsis, so I sent my 3-pager (2-3 pages is a standard length for a full synopsis). And you need a basic cover letter so they know what the heck they’re looking at – these folks look at a lot of material from a lot of people, so a reminder that this is something they asked to look at doesn’t go amiss. Dear whoever, enclosed is the 30-page partial and synopsis, as requested, of my novel, Title, kind of thing. In this agent’s case, the submission guidelines for the query didn’t want any information about the author (not even publication credits), but he asked about those in his request, so I put a little bio into my cover letter (including the fact that my only previous publications are short stories in local anthologies). It really isn’t the worst thing in the publishing world to be a debut author – it would be way worse simply to be a bad writer, or an unprofessional one.
Anyway, once all that stuff is put together in a neat little stack of paper and costly printer ink, head to the post office and purchase your envelope and your SASE – Self Addressed, Stamped Envelope – which the agent/publisher will send your material back in (hopefully with helpful notes if they reject it, or with an acceptance letter). Send that puppy off and hope for the best.
I know this is kind of basic stuff, but if I hadn’t grown up around writers, I don’t know that it would seem very basic to me – there’s a hell of a lot to the processes of the publishing world, and it differs from short story length work to novel length work, from publisher to publisher, agent to agent, agent to publisher, etc. So in case there’s anyone reading this blog who’s not sure what to expect when they finish their novel and start trying to get it into the world at large, here’s one piece of the puzzle that is getting published.
Wish me luck! 🙂