I had a heartfelt message off a reader yesterday and I‘ve promised to respond.

Polly said, “I've finished my first novel but have no idea where to go from here!? Do I look for an agent or just go straight to publishers?? How on earth do I write a synopsis of my story?

Polly, if you find out, could you let me know?

Seriously and I’m sorry to tell you, but you have only just finished your FiRST DRAFT.

My experience, coming from being rejected by agents many times over, makes me an expert on this issue.  You haven’t finished your book and it won’t be ready to send out until you edit at least three times. Then after you have had the M.S reviewed by a peer or someone who specializes in editing (sometimes an expensive undertaking), you get to edit it a couple more times after that.  

Edit, edit, edit.

I am in earnest, Polly. I have worn that T.Shirt.  I have put ‘The End’ on my manuscripts, and I have popped it into an envelope with optimism gushing from every lick of the seal.  Now, here I am; still dragging my feet along that elusive road to publication.

My advice, and if you haven’t already done so, go join a peer review site on the internet and start throwing ideas around with newly made friends.

Here’s a few, but there are others to choose from if you search.




Whilst you are having your manuscript trashed or celebrated by unknown faces, go do your research on agents. Yes, it’s agents every time. Generally, publishers won’t touch a manuscript that has been submitted by the writer.

There are various places you can get a list of Agents, but my personal favourite is First Writer. http://www.firstwriter.com/ If you pay a small annual subscription (£8p.a. or thereabouts,) they will send you updates of what is happening in the market place with regards to agents and publishers.

When you find your list, it is important to choose an agent by genre. There’s no point sending a fantasy based MS to an agent who only handles cookery books. Also, you gain brownie points if you address your cover letter to the agent by name.  Just don’t put Dear Mr. Smith when you’re sending it to Mr. Brown, like I did once. They don’t like it.  I still have the abusive email by return to prove it. Ouch!

Ah, the dreaded synopsis! I hate them. I’m terrible at writing them and I have found that most new writers are the same. If you get it right (it may be your strength for all you know), it will be the icing on your cake and you can start munching.

There are rules of course, but I find that a lot of the time the rules differ from agent to agent. Some want a single page, some want two pages and others want a detailed synopsis that describes each chapter.

I generally prepare a long synopsis, a short one, a blurb, a logline and a cover letter in advance and store them in my M.S file.  Then when I know who I want to submit to, I pull out the appropriate pieces.

How you write it? Take every exciting morsel from you book and write it as if you were preparing an advertisement that will sell your product and make you a mint. Have it in your mind that the better it is, the more you will gain, and don’t sell yourself short, as I often do.

Good luck, Polly, and to all the writers out there who are still travelling the road.

When you arrive, I’ll see you there.



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