Trying to encapsulate my novel in 100 words

I tried to court an agent.

As regular readers of my blog know, I’ve been working on a manuscript titled The Midnight Man for four years. It’s quite polished, so I thought I’d use it as my calling card to seek representation.

Many authors hate creating the synopsis that sits on the back cover their book. It’s even harder to write a summary of your work for a potential publisher or agent. They expect it as part of your submission. It should highlight the main plot points and the ending. No matter how many words you’re allowed to use (sometimes one hundred, sometimes three hundred, maybe two pages), it’s a hard thing to write.

Image by Edar, courtesy of Pixelbay

As a summary, this novel sounds like an average Romance story.

And while it has supernatural elements, the basic three-way relationship dominates the various summaries I’ve submitted. The novel includes scenes which explore the dynamic between an overbearing mother and her insecure middle-aged son (only mentioned briefly in the summary). The middle-aged son finds confidence throughout the story, thanks to a younger man he meets in his dreams (encapsulated in a couple of lines of the various summaries). And there’s an ending that, when summarised, suddenly sounds like the genre switched to horror.

I received one rejection which I carefully navigated into open dialogue. One of the reasons for not being taken on was ‘Queer publishing is rather limited and getting into the wider market with a publisher who is able to manage the material is the challenge.’

Image by bykst, courtesy of Pixabay

I was told the same thing a while back by a gay author with a book released through a major publisher.

He told me not to concentrate on queer literature. I thought, this far into the 21st century, the market may have changed. ‘Own voices’ is a popular selling point for novels written by minorities. But you still have to consider ‘the market.’

I know my readership is mainly older gay men and women. Reaching out through mainstream channels is not easy. So, as I’m still in the early stages of a novel I call ‘The 90s Project’, I’m going to write the summary out as if I’m submitting it, based on the current outline.

If it’s engaging, I’ll pop the cork of a bottle of champagne. If not, I’ll rework the outline and summary simultaneously so it ‘sounds’ commercial long before I submit it. I still dream of having a novel published in my home country, and this project is so Sydney-centric, it makes sense to ‘plan toward success’ ahead of the completion of the first draft.

Image courtesy of Start Up Stock Photos

For now, I will finesse the back cover synopsis for The Midnight Man.

Before Social Media Central was complete, I played with different versions of its synopsis. This was a good idea. I had an engaging version ready to go well before the novel was released.

So, from now on, I will tackle both the synopsis and the summary of my future works early, as they’re just as important as writing the book.


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