How to take the Publishing Plunge

 

This is quite fun really.

Pretend you don’t want it. Pretend it’s not your life’s ambition and that your existence will not come crashing down around your skinny ankles if you fail.

Stop rereading your first three chapters. They’re not getting any better. You can’t actually see the words that are on the page anymore. So just stop. They’re fine. Will you be rejected because of a typo? Maybe. Would you want an agent who rejected you because of one anyway? Don’t say yes. The answer is no. Because, let’s face it, spell-check and eagle-eyes be damned, your manuscript is riddled with them.

Pick people who don’t want you. Get a taste for the ole form rejection. Build up a resistance. Send it to agents who specifically say they don’t want what you’re writing. If they have a dragon with a line through it, they are perfect. Send it to publishers who take commercial women’s fiction. If they publish books with watercolour covers and shiny titles that look like enlarged versions of pretty handwriting, they are beyond perfect.

Write your synopsis. You’ve already researched. You’ve even written a few. Practice is good. Now stop looking for the key to your perfect summary. No one offering advice has or will read your book. They can’t tell you how to condense it. Just do it. Cut out all but the most important stuff and get it done. Ruin the story. Give away the ending. Man up. If you think they expect you to pull them through all the twists and turns and ups and downs of your story in one page…well maybe they do, but I can’t. So there.

Write the shortest cover letter ever. And state the obvious as little as possible. You’ve written a book you say? No shit. You’ve included the first three chapters? Go figure. You’d be happy to send them the whole whopping thing? Get out! Seriously, nothing in my life is relevant. So I shan’t waste their time.

Remember, they don’t want your book anyway. It’s not THAT pivotal.

You won’t send a less-than-ready submission. It’s not in you to send out something that’s shoddy and is all but tea-stained and curling up at the corners. It will be polite, grammatically sound, and to the point. It will be the first step.

And it’s happening TOMORROW. Eek!

Tomorrow is good. I like Tuesdays.

 

In case anyone is wondering, and I know they’re not, the daily blog commitment was suspended for the holidays. Don’t fret; writing and editing continued, naturally. But I didn’t want to rise out of my little fairy-light-filled bubble and speak to the world.

 

 

 

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A cover letter! Eep!

Normally I would keep this to myself. I’d let my computer eat it, and it would sit in its belly. It would be regurgitated now and then, to be examined and tweaked, but ultimately it would be left there.

Did I just make my cover letters sound like vomit?

Why yes, yes I did.

My problem with cover letters is that I could write five different ones, telling *gasp!* showing different things, and I’d think they were all relevant.

How do you know what to include and what to leave out?

There are many ways to cut your way down to the best stuff. Here’s what I did.

I had a poke around this blog. http://queryshark.blogspot.com/It’s by a New York Literary Agent, and it’s where queries (cover letters) are sent to die and be reborn as better and brighter versions of their past selves.

I forgot about my book. Forgot that it is, in fact, over 100k words. Forgot the ins and outs, the secondary characters, the back-stories and the sub-plots. What’s left, the core that never fades from your mind, the fundamental part that you CAN’T forget, that’s what goes in the letter.

I focused on my main character. She is the point of my book. Every time I’m asked what it’s about, I’m tempted to say ‘It’s about Ara’.

I left out as many names as possible. The name of the country, the name of the main city, the name of the sanctuary, gone gone gone. Three names feature in the letter; the main character, the source of the conflict, and the ‘enemy’-the person ‘what’s at stake’ is tied to.

I thought ‘what am I trying to say’ and then I said it.

I wrote the letter the way I wrote the book; being bold and starting sentences with ‘but’ or ‘and’, single-word sentences, single-line paragraphs…It’s a taster of your writing; it should be polished, but not shined up so much that it doesn’t sound like you.

Does it do my book, my story, my main character justice? No idea.

Here it is…

Dear Agent

In a rebel sanctuary, hidden among thousands of creaking trees, Ara spearheads the fight against Kry Maladin; the country’s ruler.

The sanctuary is filled with people she snatched out of Kry’s crushing hands; people he wanted to work for him, people he’d make do what he wanted. Now those people watch her with frosty eyes and whisper about her when she shouldn’t be able to hear them. Ara isn’t like them, and even though she hides it, they know she’s different. Dangerous.

What they don’t know is that she’s the reason they were rescued; that she pitted her speed and strength against Kry’s defences so they could be saved. And no one in the sanctuary knows that she does it because, years ago, Kry’s crushing hands snatched her, and held on tight until she escaped.

On the two-year anniversary of her escape, Risk, Kry’s son, is brought to the sanctuary. And Risk, whose voice grips her heart, whose eyes arrest her breath and send phantom pains sweeping through her, came willingly.

He wants to join their fight. The council that runs the sanctuary, and resents Ara’s power, is eager to accept him.

A few words about the part he played in her past could keep him out forever. But Ara won’t speak about it. She won’t even think about it. And so he is allowed to stay.

When Risk discovers that Ara carries out rescue missions almost entirely alone, he is adamant that she have help. He doesn’t know the extent of her abilities; she didn’t have them before. He only knows what his father would do to her if he caught her again.

Ara knows too.

But help would be a hindrance; no one can keep up with her. Help could mean her return to the past. Still, she says nothing to stop it.

The council jump on the chance to dilute her control and she is forced to accept a team of rebels; a team which includes Risk.

When a rescue mission she wanted to do alone goes wrong, Ara stays back to hold off Kry’s soldiers so the team can escape. She’s hit with darts of a paralysing drug made just for her, and falls back into Kry’s hands.

ARA is the first book in a science-fiction series, and is complete at 108k words.

Thank you for your consideration.

Roisin Anna Murphy