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The Publishing Road So Far: 2/10/14
Last week I was still working on hooks, and I certainly am focusing on that, but I think for this week's entry I had better focus on the next part of that crucial query letter that I must write if I'm going to get any attention from a literary agent or publishing house.

The second paragraph or portion deals with what is called the mini-synopsis. Meaning, one paragraph of about 150 words to sum up an entire book in order to get someone interested enough to read the whole manuscript. Yeah, that should be way super easy. No problem. I can totally just sum up everything in that amount of space.

This is the description I found to help me understand what I'm trying to do:

Paragraph Two—Mini-synopsis: This is where you get to distill your entire 300 page novel into one paragraph. Lucky you. We’d like to offer advice on how to do this, but really, it just takes practice, hard work and lots of patience. Then, like we said before, get your friends to read it and if their heads hurt afterwards, go back to the drawing board. We don’t envy you. We really don’t. Summing up your entire book in an intriguing single paragraph is worse than a root canal.

So think of it this way. You had trouble writing the gist of your book in one sentence, right? Now, you get a whole paragraph. About 150 extra words. Here’s your chance to expand on your hook. Give a little bit more information about your main characters, their problems and conflicts, and the way in which adversity changes their lives. Read the back flaps of your favorite novels and try to copy how the conflict of the book is described in a single, juicy paragraph. You can do this. You really can. You just have to sit down, brainstorm, then vomit it all out onto the page. Afterwards, cut, paste, trim, revise, and reshape.

I get it, it's to sell the story, but part of me can't help but wonder if I could sum it up this way in one paragraph why didn't I just write the whole book in that small space? Part of me knows that I have to master it and trying to wish it away won't make it go away or be easy---and that's okay.

Synopsis writing scares me. It seems so hard to know more than ever what detail to add or include and what ones to hold back for the actual manuscript. Considering so many sources continue to contradict one another, I guess I'll just have to trust instinct on this one. If It sounds good when I'm doing writing it, I am hopeful that I did it fairly right.

Marketing is not exactly taught to us in a creative writing program---and it's another shortcoming I've discovered in the programs. I'm not sure if current students in these programs are being taught marketing their platform/work/whatever---but they should be. Trying to figure it out on your own is hard!

So, I guess I need to go back to some of those back flaps on books and pick not just the opening sentence or two, but a whole paragraph to focus on why a novel/story made me want to read or not so I can figure out how to write my own mini synopsis.

Anyone have some good book flaps they've encountered that they could share with me? Why did you choose to read/buy that book based on that flap? Did it live up to the text or did the text live up to it? Do any of you favorite novels have kick ass back flaps that enticed you to read?

Until next week---hopefully with some hook work examples and a bit more investigating into the elusive mini-synopsis.


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