Sunday, November 16, 2014

In which I present a short proposal for my gold digger book and the agents say that the situation is completely unbelievable

I need your advice. I went to a publishing seminar recently where there was a panel where six literary agents listened to book synopses (only the agents thought they were query letters, so that was strike one) and gave their feedback. The synopses were read by one person and the reader did not identify the author.

The reader read the first paragraph of my synopsis:

A Gold-Digger's Guide to Love, Marriage, and Cranky In-laws, by Yours Truly
The story starts with the Gold Digger (aka Goldy) losing her job of eight years just after she has returned from what turned out to be an ill-advised trip to Paris to spend a week with the Moroccan millionaire she met when visiting friends in Morocco the  month prior. The millionaire, Gomez, didn't even offer to pay for her plane ticket, drank a bottle of wine every day at lunch, took a nap after lunch, and then wanted to spend his waking hours shopping at The Gap.

I realize this is not a great synopsis because I do not go straight into the heart of the story, but I misunderstood the instructions, which were to write a one-page synopsis. I buried the lead, so I have already figured out that part.

But I need some feedback. I know there are people who like the story I tell here about Sly and Doris because I see it in my reader stats. But the agents, who heard only the information above, said that the characters seemed to be caricatures in unbelievable situations. This was excellent feedback - first of all, it made me aware that this is a crummy synopsis and second, it makes me realize I need to make sure the characters are fully fleshed out.

I am wondering if the title might be a bad idea. The whole "Gold Digger" thing is ironic - it's what Sly and Doris call me but it's not what I am. I am thinking that maybe the title is misleading. After all, you would have to read the book to realize the genesis of the title, but if you really think the book is about a golddigger, then why would you want to read it in the first place? Golddiggers are not sympathetic characters.

What do you guys think? That seminar was worth it just for that little bit of unbiased feedback - it has given me a lot to think about. One of the agents said she wants a 35-word summary of the book, which I think maybe the summary in the sidebar here - Two weeks before our wedding, my husband's parents called to tell him 1. they weren't coming and 2. he shouldn't marry me. Since then, I have gotten along with them about as well as you might think.  - is better than the synopsis I wrote. 

15 comments:

  1. I just believe that unless a book is wildly clever in plot or philosophy, someone in the story has to be really likeable, and everyone has to be possible.

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  2. I think your sidebar statement is an excellent summary -- says it all in just a few words. I also think the title is misleading, as you thought. Good luck!

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  3. 1. This blog is extremely entertaining... don't give up on your dream of turning it into a book!
    2. I agree with you and Morganna that the title is misleading and that the sidebar is a great summary.
    3. I like your attitude... use this as a learning experience!

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  4. Long time lurking anon via Ask a Manager: the sidebar summary is great! And if you do end up publishing, I will be in the market for a copy :)

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  5. I agree with Morganna - your sidebar sums it up, and is just hilarious. I'd buy that book!

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  6. I love the summary in the sidebar. It definitely arouses curiosity and the desire to know more about the situation.

    I also like the Gold-Digger phrase very much, it's cool to take the totally false insult from your inlaws and ironically apply it to yourself. I see that it could be misleading, though. In these days when some people write articles extolling their cheater lifestyles, for example, readers might assume your writing IS about being a gold-digger.

    Not sure about how to resolve this -- maybe "gold-digger" -- the quotation marks clue the reader in not to take the gold-digging seriously. But it's not elegant.

    Best wishes for major success, I really enjoy your writing.

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  7. Your writing is quite entertaining and coming from someone who has difficult in-laws, therapeutic as well! Agree that your sidebar is a good summary. Agree also that calling yourself Gold-Digger is really funny but requires pithy explanation. Hope you are successful in publishing!

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  8. Thank you guys! You are so sweet! I appreciate your feedback - it is very useful - and I really like your kind words. xoxoxo

    Lisa, I will try to make at least one character likeable. :)

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  9. Everything Ester said. Your paragraph was awful - but the sidebar is perfect. Try again. It's a great idea.

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  10. "The Diary of a Gold-Digger

    The whole truth and nothing but the truth about my husband, his parents, and me - That Woman."

    Yes to the sidebar, but don't leave out the above, it too is fabulous!

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  11. I agree with the choir about the sidebar being a great hook, and with Lisa about characters. I think that you and Primo will fit the bill about being likable/relatable, but I'd keep the focus on Sly and Doris when it comes to bafflingly weird people in your lives. (If you want to include folks like Gomez & Sergio, I'd wait until you've established yourself and Primo on your own, so that you can help ground things.)

    I also agree that if you use Gold Digger in the title, it'd need a bit more context to make the type of humor be apparent. As is, it sounds like you're aiming for the chick-lit market, which is a bit breezier and more inclined towards tidy, happy endings than your general tone would suggest you'd want.

    And it's really exciting to think of this becoming a book - good luck!

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  12. You guys, this is all so useful! Thank you for your kind, honest feedback. I really appreciate it.

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  13. Yep, you nailed it in the 35 words or less section.

    Anonymous on Nov.18, 2014 name change is also excellent.

    A few other for gold digger:

    Out sons' wife

    Our grandchilds' mother

    :D Daughter-In-Law done with air quotes-visualize it-I'm laughing every time .

    Lastly - I think the Publishing people are missing a big picture because it's seems very plain - there is definitely a best seller here; if you expand each blog post into the equivalent of short stories that are (like David Sedaris) interlaced you have a great read, your voice is great, it' all good!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, S Alyse! Priom wants to know where the agents are. I remind him that he is the one who doesn't want his parents to see this stuff. I couldn't care less if they disowned us - in fact, I would welcome it!

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