My Search for a Literary Agent, Part II: The Synopsis

After nearly a two-month hiatus, my search for agent representation once again begins.

By the end of October I sent out five query letters and received three outright rejections and two no responses. The three rejections all stated the same thing: “This project is not right for us.” Although polite, I am not exactly sure what “not right for us” means, especially since I took a great deal of time to research specific literary agents who are open to new authors and who are actively seeking middle-grade ghost stories. In fact, I am told that in most cases the agent I sent the query letter to most likely did not even read the letter. Overworked and underpaid assistants, I have discovered, read most query letters.

This past week I sent out five more query letters to possible agents. I have already received two polite rejections already. Well, at least two agents got back to me. I also spent several hours over the course of three days looking through fiction writing handbooks, how to write “killer” query letters, websites for dozens of literary agents, and blogs about how to snag one, grammar handbooks, and good old fashioned classics to research atmosphere. It’s no wonder why so many writers are addicts of some kind or another. The amount of work that goes into finding an agent/publisher is more than writing the book itself.

Perhaps the most useful time I spent was in the children’s section of the bookstore and library. I read numerous back and inside covers to see how synopsis blurbs are written. This is perhaps the hardest thing to write when it comes to the query letter. One basically has to “sell” the book in four to five sentences to agents who already receive hundreds of query letters a day. Below is a revised synopsis of my middle grade novel, Ghost Light. The novel is just over 60,000 words.

GHOST LIGHT takes place in the dead of winter in a small village in New England and tells the story about a brother and sister who become ensnared in the sinister world of secrets and lies, ghosts and revenge. Stefano and Lucia Pericolanti spend most of their free time working for their parents, desperate to escape their boring lives. Everything changes when they are asked to make a delivery to Ms. Colmann, the school librarian. While there, Lucia discovers that something sinister is haunting the old librarian’s house, and now it has its sights on her.

So, I would appreciate any thoughts/suggestions anyone has on how to make this more appealing to literary agents, or just more appealing in general. Or, perhaps, I should give up?

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3 thoughts on “My Search for a Literary Agent, Part II: The Synopsis

  1. Hey There Martino… one thing a I read somewhere is that for middle school and young adult novels 40,000 words is about the max– maybe the length is too long? There are a few websites for getting an agent for young adult fiction, you might check out some of those websites

  2. Thanks Sarah. You may be right about this. I have been going through numerous websites over the past several months, and the one thing I have learned is that unless you know someone in the business, it’s really a crap shoot.

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