I bring this up, however, to look at the other side of the coin. I get all of the time (and I am sure other agents do as well) proposals for projects that make me sit there and say "HUH?" Now, I will admit there are times when this occurs but it is due to a long day, lack of sleep or too little coffee. However, most of the time, it really is the proposal. So, what do I do on this?
I know this sounds harsh but I pass on the project. A colleague of mine uses the phrase, "if it is a maybe, it is a no" to guide her thinking when it comes to new projects. She is right on the money with this. For me, if I get a project that I have no idea what is going on, I am not going to chase after it in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, the project will be so amazing I have to sign it.
As a writer, it is crucial that you insure you have us at hello. Here are a few tips:
- Your pitch has to be clear and concise giving the reader an exact picture of what the story is about. Don't just give us a pretty theme to work with.
- Your query should be straightforward and to the point. Reading and reading just to get to the last line that finally sums up the story is not going to work.
- I should not have to dig through the pages of material you sent just to figure out the basics about the book (the title, genre, word count and certainly your name).
- Your synopsis should be the plot of the story. It is a storyboard of the entire novel, not a chance for you to attempt to show off your creative writing ability.
- Your opening pages need to draw the reader into the story with an understanding of the character and the world. Sending me an email later complaining when I tell you it was slow and that things really are exciting in Chapter 5 should tell you something. 1-4 doesn't work.
Remember that in the real world, when you are applying for a job, the prospective employer is only looking at your cover letter and resume for 20-30 seconds. I hate to break it to you. The publishing world IS the real world.