How to Write Queries, Synopsis and Proposals
The nitty-gritty of selling your writing to traditional markets.
November 13, 2013 - 8:00 am
Selling you writing in 13 weeks, supplemental post 1, part 1
How to pitch and query.
No, we don’t mean we’ll teach you how to propose marriage, though if you need help of that kind, read the first proposal – by Mr. Darcy – in Pride and Prejudice and then make sure you don’t do that.
However, I promised a supplemental post to my 13 weeks series, about how to approach traditional markets, should you decide to do so.
I don’t know if my experience is normal — since I came from so far outside the field that I came from another country, culture and language – but I spent eight years unable to submit any of my stories, because while I knew how to write the stories themselves, I was in the dark on how to write those strange things “queries” and “proposals” and “synopsis.”
Then one day at a writers’ group meeting I asked a published author next to me how one did it, and – after looking at me like I’d taken leave of my senses – she showed me. On the back of an envelope. In five minutes.
Which was handy, because a year later, when I met an editor at a workshop, she asked me to send her a proposal. And I did. It was the proposal for Ill Met By Moonlight, which sold to that editor three days after I sent it.
If you’re trying to go the traditional route you will come – perhaps you’ve already come – up on these words “query” and “synopsis” and “proposal”. If you attend conventions you might also have need of a magical thing called “pitch” or “elevator pitch.”
The only two houses – that I know of, though it’s possible there are still some in Romance and/or mystery – that take submissions in the form of a full manuscript are Baen and DAW (though I heard rumors TOR did, or was intending to.) All the others will have either a line saying “No unsolicited submissions” or “send query” Or “Send proposal”.
So, let’s start with how you magically turn your submission from “unsolicited” to “solicited.”
This usually involves attending a convention or workshop also attended by the editor you wish to work with.