Firstly and most importantly, GIVE THEM WHAT THEY HAVE ASKED FOR. Nothing more, nothing less.
No gimmicks, no fluffy paper, no nice little thing to make mine stand out, they want to know about your writing.
No reviews and torn bits of paper, no local paper extract (mention these in your cover letter).
No “my neighbour says it the best thing she has read”. Unless she is an agent, publisher or heaven forbid, a critic. If so, get them to write a testimonial and if you are brave, send it with your submission.
if you are posting it, put in return of postage unless you make it clear that you don’t want it back and they can shred it. If they want your work, they will let you know.
Make a new document and call it “chapter summaries”. Go through the book and make a bullet point list of what is in that chapter, so, for instance,
Chapter 1, Daybreak at Lunatic Rock
- Pete and Dave wake up with almighty hangovers
- Dave finds bracelet in his shoe
- The camper van turns up
- George goes for paper and notices headline
- Police Chief John at murder scene
- A grieving mother
This really makes it so much easier to edit when 4 months later you have that idea about something and want to find where it is. In a book of 100,000 words, it can take a lot of time to find that one thing, this “chapter summaries” helps a great deal.
- Write at least 3 versions of a bio about you. One that is 5 or 6 lines at the most, one that is a few paragraphs and one that is about half a page. Save them as bio A, bio B and bio C or whatever.
- Write at least 3 versions of your synopsis. One should not be more than 1 page, one should be no more than 2 pages and one say no more than 4. You will probably not need the latter, but have one anyway. Save them as synopsis A, B and C or whatever.
- DO NOT make your synopsis a list of characters and chapters. It is the one thing that may sell your book better than anything else, spend time over it. It has to tell the whole story, including any twists and stunning revelations, everything. A publisher and/or agent needs to know what happens at the end.
- Keep a separate folder with correspondence to publishers and agents.
- If they have said it is okay to e-mail them, copy the e-mail onto a word document and save it in the correspondence file. Do not just trust your e-mail system to work and keep it forever.
- Make sure you list what enclosures you send them, it is best to make a separate copy and file it in the correspondence file. Yes, that does mean copying the 2 chapters, the five thousand words, the first ten pages or whatever that they ask for, save it with their name, (e.g. first 3 chapters fred publishers 16 april 2013) and copy the bio and synopsis that they want. Be very diligent and almost obsessive about labeling, copying and keeping a record of what they want and what you have sent them. When that phone rings, you have got to be on the case.
- Back everything up at each significant point. It is far better to have ten backups of something than not having one and your computer dies.
- Keep your electronic files or word count and so on up to date.
- When reviewing ideas and thoughts from your notebook, pay attention to the things that your proof reader and anyone else who read the drafts has said. Think on them as buyers, think very carefully about what they say. You can ignore them, it is your book, you wrote it, you know what it is supposed to say because you have lived with the story for a very long time. But if they all say much the same thing about one part of it, it is time to pay attention.
- And of course, one other thing, blog, blog, blog. Keep blogging and attach a list of RELEVANT blogs that you have on your bio page, the e-mail and the cover letter.
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The Truth a crime thriller and,
The Handbook Of TOP TIPS To Manage Your Writing