Monday, 14 May 2012

Concentrating On Book Condensation.

When sending my precious newborn novel off for the consideration of an agent, one of the things I found most difficult was the synopsis. This is NOT the same as the blurb that goes on the back of the book (more about that later); the synopsis is basically the whole story-arc of your novel in an easy to swallow amount. And when you think about how many enquiries agents must get on a daily basis it's easy to see why they need a condensed version.

Some agents don't specify how long or short your synopsis should be, others request 1-2 A4 pages, one A4 side or, in a couple of cases less than 500 words. Until I actually sat down to do it I'd imagined that this would be easy to accomplish - might even be fun. Ha!

It took me about a week to whittle my 260+ page novel down to a more manageable size - the first synopsis I wrote for 'Demon's Daughter' was practically a novella! So what should I take out? What was important to keep in? What moves the story on? What is inconsequential when attempting to impress an agent?

I scoured the Internet for advice; most sites gave pretty much the same list of dos and don'ts, some conflicted entirely and in the end what I made use of most were the advice sections of some of the agents' websites. I think I probably sent out around 8 different versions and I was never really content with any of them. Maybe my incompetence at writing a compelling synopsis is what kept my book from being snapped up by an enthusiastic agent? Hmmm.

Anyway, now I find myself with another problematic area to deal with - writing the blurb. The blurb that goes on the back of the book is, in my humble opinion, one of the most important things that I can do for my book. The blurb is all the best bits of the synopsis - the best way I have to entice a reader to choose my book from the billions of others out there. It's certainly how I find books - the title might get my attention, the cover might keep it, but it's the blurb on the back that'll make me decide whether or not I'm going to part with my cash. No pressure then!

I've written a few blurbs for 'Demon's Daughter' - some longer than others - and my favourite is probably this one:-

Emily Carson is an average teenage nerd whose goals in life are to ace her exams, save her brother, Seth, from his own bad taste in girls and persuade school hottie, Adam Farlow, that she is the girl of his dreams. And then her dad shows up - her dad the demon. Cue meetings with Werewolves, tussles with Vampires and close-encounters with gorgeous Fallen Angels as Emily and Seth fall headlong into the world that exists within our own.

On the back of the actual book I used a longer version with a quote from the book. Did I get it right? Well, I'm never going to be 100% certain.

Now of course I have to do the same for book 2 - persuade a would-be reader to try my book with a short, snappy, 20-second's worth of reading material. So far I've had three versions and this is what I reckon I'll be going with:

 'A recessed back door was opened by a tall man carrying a real, honest-to-God shotgun. I couldn’t take my eyes off it – guns look much more ‘solid’ in real life than they do in the movies. It was obvious that this was no toy and was big enough to do a lot of damage if the guy holding it decided that the doing of damage was necessary. I decided that it would be worth our while to be nice to him.
“Hi,” I said brightly, sticking out my hand. “Is Rick at home?”
Both Shotgun Dude and Sariel turned to look at me in astonishment. Sariel’s eyebrows rose into his fringe and Shotgun Dude looked first at my hand and then my face. He scowled and I withdrew my hand. “This way,” he told us gruffly and we trooped dutifully after him into the unlit house.
What exactly was that? Sariel asked, amazement and amusement colouring his voice in equal measure.
Hello? Did you not see the gun? I thought we should be nice.
You faced off against a Demon lord and now you’re scared of a human with a gun?
It’s a big gun!’

My name is Emily Carson.
Last year my twin brother, Seth, and I discovered that we have demon DNA and things got a bit…messy. Surprisingly, Asmodeus (our Daddy Dearest) doesn’t seem to have forgiven me for my actions the last time we met and the word is that he’s out for revenge.
It’s okay though ‘cause there’s a plan – escape to Italy with gorgeous Fallen Angel, Sariel; meet his buddies, catch a few rays, convince him to wear Speedos and maybe even engineer another excuse to lock lips with him (that’s my plan, anyway). Sounds good, right?
What could possibly go wrong?

Feedback so far is that it might be too long and I should maybe leave the book quote out. Hmmm. Maybe I should consider another re-write...


  1. i'd stop the quote at "Is Rick at home?" cos there's humour there, and then move into the "My name is" section