Preparing to Prepare a Submission Package

A Pen In Each Hand

By Seanan McGuire

  1. Get a copy of the Guide to Literary Agents, and read all their tutorials. While the lists of actual agents will change dramatically from year to year, the format of the cover letter and synopsis won’t; you can probably pick up an older edition at your local used bookstore for five or six dollars. Just don’t use it for actually querying agents.
  2. Write one, two, and eight page synopses of your current project, and study the logical differences. Remember that every synopsis has to go from beginning to end, and make linear sense, even as the details get sliced away.
  3. Write an elevator pitch—a short, thirty-second description of your project designed to make people say “tell me more.” For double the fun, write an anti-elevator pitch to go with it—remember that “a young girl arrives in a foreign land, kills the first person she meets, and with the aid of three strangers, goes on to kill again” is a technically accurate elevator pitch for The Wizard of Oz.
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