What exactly is a book package?
A book package is a collection of everything you’ll need while querying agents or editors. We recommend having everything written up and ready to go before you submit your first query because you never know when an agent may come back and say, “please send me your synopsis, writer’s bio, and resume along with your full manuscript.” You want to be ready. I’ve had agents get back to me as quickly as the next day, asking for the full manuscript. One agent replied to my query letter barely two hours after I sent it.
Below is a list of everything agents have been known to ask for.
The Completed Manuscript
Don’t send the query letter before you are certain the manuscript is perfect, or as perfect as you can make it. You only have one chance to make one first impression. You don’t want to kick start your agent/writer relationship with a lack of punctuality, or worse, unpreparedness.
The Writer’s Bio
The Bio is that brief, casual snippet of information included with most books. This is always written in third person. For more information on writing your bio, click here.
The next three items on your check list, the log line, summary, and synopsis are all variations on the same thing. They mostly differ in length.
The log line is a one sentence summary on your book. Example: “Dolor and Shadow” is a fantasy in which the elven witch-queen, hell-bent on avenging her father, is forced to team up with the carefree king, who killed her father, in order to survive Ancient Scandinavia and return home before both lose their kingdoms.” No plot, not even names are given. Only characters and conflict. Things that are relevant to the story. This is the blurb you see in TV Guide®.
The summary is the blurb or story description found on the back of any book. Example: To avoid accepting her father’s death, Kallan, the Dokkalfar queen, insists she is out to avenge her father by killing the Ljosalfar king, Rune. But when Kallan is abducted by an old enemy she finds herself in the mountains of Norway with none other than the man who killed her father, King Rune. Now, Rune and Kallan must band together if they are to survive while fighting mutual enemies, their prejudice, and each other across the uncharted terrain of Ancient Scandinavia. Click here for more information on writing your summary.
The synopsis is much longer. The synopsis should be less than 600 words, double spaced so it fits onto no more than two pages, and the name of each character should be capitalized upon introduction. Example: “War has erupted between the Alfar clans of Alfheim: the Dokkalfar of Lorlenalin and the Ljosalfar of Gunir. With the death of her father, QUEEN KALLAN, turns her grief inward and vows vengeance against RUNE TRYGGVESON, king of the Ljosalfar.” This is only the first paragraph. I will not include more because the synopsis reveals the entire plot highlights, the climax, and the ending. It is supposed to read dry, so if your writing sounds stale and boring, good job! You wrote it correctly! The synopsis is meant to inform, not entice, or draw in the reader. One agent I queried, wanted my synopsis in one paragraph. I did it! It was not easy condensing 140,000 words down to 200. Be prepared.
The Query Letter:
Obviously, you’ll need this written up before you send it out. For more information on query letter writing, click here.
This mostly pertains to non-fiction authors, but some agents still request it from fiction authors. It is a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of your book. I have never had an agent ask for this. I write genre fiction, but I have it in case they ask.
The cover letter is another letter agents have not yet asked of me. In my research, I learned that this mostly applies to snail mail submissions (I only submit via email queries) where agents request the full manuscript after a query letter has been sent. It is a business cover letter that professionally reminds the agent that they “requested your manuscript and here it is”.
One agent I submitted to actually asked for this. Its a standard issue resume focusing and highlighting your work ethic, your writing related accomplishments, and your goals. It is a resume. Be sure it is presented as such.