“What’s your book about?”
I think every author (at least secretly) hates that question because it’s inherently difficult to boil down the soul, rhythms, themes, and action of your entire novel into a concise synopsis. It’s like asking someone to explain the meaning of life in Twitter-speak.
And yet, that’s exactly what you must do if you want to get published. Every query letter you send out requires a two or three paragraph tease. Literary agents can get hundreds of queries a day, so it is imperative that yours somehow stand out from the crowd, or it’s going in the trash. Agents are so busy, they are literally looking for a reason to say “no”.
That said, writing a tease is actually easier than trying to summarize your entire story. Many agents require a one-page synopsis that covers your book from beginning to end. I’ve been rejected by nine agents so far, and I haven’t queried any who asked for a synopsis, although I’m trying to craft one now . I’ve gotten it down to two-and-a-half pages, so I still have a lot of editing to go.
But the verbal pitch is the most frightening, at least for me. Like most writers, I would rather pen my thoughts than try to form them into spoken words. Still, I’m working to develop a pitch too, in case I ever get to a writers’ conference and have a chance to pitch to some agents there.
With all that as preamble, since one of the major reasons I started this blog was to develop a platform for my novel, I thought it might be a good idea to at least try and give you an idea of what it is actually about. I like to tell people that when they read THE FOUNDING FATHERS, they’ll instantly know that I watch more movies than I read books. I see it as Where Eagles Dare meets Willow, which probably means nothing to a lot of people, so here’s what I’ve put down in my query letters so far (without the artwork, of course):
Thomas Jefferson has been abducted from his apartment in Paris. The author of American democracy holds a secret – a secret the world can’t afford to lose. Desperate to save his friend and defend his newborn nation, George Washington assembles a team of historic heroes and sends them across the Atlantic to rescue Jefferson or bring him home for burial.
Meanwhile, Betsy Ross boards a ship to kill a man she barely knows. The seamstress who fashioned America’s first flag has already paid a steep price for the nation she served so well. Now, nearly a decade after the last cannons were fired on Yorktown, her ruthless former employer has discovered a British plot to recapture the continent, and is convinced only an assassin can stop it. Betsy is still haunted by nightmares, hobbled by the grief of two husbands dead, and burdened by the illness of a third. She’s tried to put the bloody days behind her. She longs for peace even at the price of ignorance. But if she fails, every sacrifice she’s made will mean nothing.
The patriots’ mission of mercy and Betsy’s solemn voyage soon collide in a nightmarish battle on the high seas. The few who survive are left to untangle a web of treachery woven through the ageless ambitions of a fearfully beautiful sorceress and the machinations of one of history’s most infamous villains.
THE FOUNDING FATHERS is a 75,000 word work of historical fiction and paranormal action-adventure that delves into shadowy portions of celebrated biographies to examine the insecurities and forgotten failures driving America’s famous warriors and statesmen on a quest for redemption. But its heart is with the woman who crafted the symbol of the nation for which they gave their all. Faced with her greatest fear, Betsy Ross confronts her own tragic history with the fierce strength and jealous compassion of a woman determined to honor the legacy of the men she loved at any cost.