Go With the Flow in Life and Pitching Your Work

Thursday, July 11, 2024

The author at the peak of Grandfather Mountain in Linville, N.C.

I’m on vacation with my family this week. Instead of our normal trek to the ocean, we decided to rent a mountain house near where our son will be attending college and appreciate the cooler weather and fun outdoor activities. We had everything planned out, and a lot of our itinerary was based on the advice of my husband, who also attended college in this area thirty plus years ago. 

Our first adventure was tubing down the New River with nothing but the current to carry us and a few drinks packed in a cooler. A shuttle van took us to the drop-off point and we were basically told to “have fun!” We settled in for a lazy two hours in the water, until we noticed we were approaching a bridge that looked—what’s the best way to describe it?—sagging in the middle? We were supposed to just float underneath the bridge but as we got closer, we began to panic. Did we have enough room to clear it? 

We could have tried to stop, drag our tubes out of the water and walk along the riverbank beside the bridge. But instead, we flattened ourselves like pancakes and prayed. We made it underneath the bridge, barely, but we were wondering how the large group of thirty or so people floating a good ways behind us were going to tackle the situation, seeing as how they were all attached to one another and hauling Bluetooth speakers, coolers, and even a charcuterie board in an airtight container! 

The next day we decided to check out a local waterfall less than half a mile from where we were staying. Based on the map in the parking lot, there were three different ways to get to the waterfall and they were labeled by difficulty. We picked one path and headed in. While the ground was full of roots and mud, you can imagine our surprise when we found the waterfall less than a half-mile into our hike. My son, an Eagle Scout, was pretty underwhelmed. We were back out of the park and to our car within an hour all in. We laughed and told ourselves you just must roll with it sometimes. 

Back in May I wrote about putting together an agent checklist for my suspense novel. I selected five different agents and discussed what they requested from writers pitching their books. They were all different I sent out my first batch of queries and quickly noticed something was missing from my submission package. I had a short synopsis as part of my query letter, but I realized some agents also want a longer synopsis where you hit all the main plot points of your book, from beginning to end, in no more than 800 words. 

I pulled my submission package document out again and got to work. Whittling down a synopsis of an 86,000-word-book to only 800 words isn’t easy. But I have a completed draft to send to my next batch of agents. 

My submission package now includes: 
• A one-sentence logline of my book. 
 • Both a short and longer author bio. 
 • An 800-word synopsis of the book, covering all the main plot points. 
 • A brief description of the potential target audience and other comparative titles to mine. 
 • The most polished version of the book, where I can pull the first 10 pages, 25 pages, or 50 pages, depending on what/if the agent wants. 

I’m sure just like our vacation excursions, these different pieces of the submission package will continue to evolve, when and if agents respond. The bright side of continuing to work on these various pieces means the book will have a great marketing package already put together when and if it sells. 

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and host/creator of the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas. She’s currently seeking representation for her suspense novel “It’s a Miracle I’m Alive,” which was inspired by her experience podcasting.

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