Chatting with Randy Ingermanson: How to get published

Jul 15, 2010Work Uncaged, Write!

I’m grateful to host my good friend Randy Ingermanson here. We had a long skype chat about publishing in the aftermath of my publishing The 11 Secrets of Getting Published. What follows is our banter. Today? We’re talking about how to get published, particularly if you’re a novelist. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post about dreaded rejection.


RI: OK, so let’s say a writer’s developed her craft and has a great
voice and she’s just finished up her novel. Now she wants to get it
published with a traditional publisher. What’s her next step?

MD: She needs to be sure she’s written a synopsis and a query letter.
And she needs to make sure her first three chapters SING. There’s a
trend these days toward a fiction proposal, so if she wants to really
look professional, she could write one of those.

RI: You’ve got an e-book out on how to write a proposal, right?

MD: Yes, yes I do. That walks you through the query, the synopsis, the
chapters, and comparing your book to other books. It also tackles
marketing and PR. And it has a template you can cut and paste into
your own document. Answer the questions, fill in the blanks, and you
have a professional proposal.

RI: OK, now you’ve said the most dreaded word for every novelist:
Synopsis. Talk to me about that. A lot of authors hear “synopsis” and
they think “outline.” How is a synopsis not an outline?

MD: No, it’s a few pages long (don’t ramble), and it tells your story
in present tense. Typically, you ALL CAP characters when you
introduce them.

RI: Do you have any special methods of writing a synopsis?

MD: It outlines the major plot points, but doesn’t go into detail.
And it reveals the ending.

RI: Most of my editor friends want about 2 pages. Which means that if
the novel has 100 scenes, that’s about 10 words per scene. Not enough

MD: Yes, anything longer than that is just tiring on an editor’s
eyes. So you camp on the major ones. It’s like you’re sitting down
with a friend and telling them what your story is about. It’s PURE

RI: Right, it’s not SHOWING at all. Which means it’s boring.

MD: It’s not creative. It’s boring. But, like taxes, it must be done.

RI: I think writers get hung up on putting in every little scene in
the synopsis. Can’t do that!

MD: Nope. Just tell the story in the simplest terms. I have synopsis
examples in my tutorial. For me it helps when I see one done.

RI: Do you ask a critiquer or editor to work over your synopsis?

MD: Yes. Because I am awful at it. Camy Tang is
really good at examining and picking apart synopses.