There's an awful lot of advice on the Internet about approach letters, synopsis packages and so on. Unfortunately, much of it is contradictary and leaves the hopeful writer confused and uncertain about how to construct their approach.
I decided that the most important thing was that agents are all very BUSY. They don't have much time to dedicate to searching through the 'slush-pile', and thus if something doesn't grab them within a few lines, they'll pass and move on. For this reason, my approach was as follows;
A) A one-page introductory letter.
B) A one-page synopsis, single line spaced.
C) The first three chapters ( in my case, 21 pages in total ).
Obviously I can't post my synopsis here, but below is my covering letter. This package was sent to ten of the top London agencies in total over a period of two months. Of those ten, only two asked for the full manuscript. Of those, LBA signed me as a client, and I turned down the other one shortly after ( an odd experience in itself after years of rejections! ).
My advice is: Be brief, exciting and professional. Not an easy combination - my letter took several days to perfect, but the effort was worth it in the end.
91 Great Russell Street
Dear Mr Bonomi,
What is the meaning of life? Where do we come from? What happens to us when we die?
I am writing to you as a novelist in search of representation for my commercial fiction thriller ‘Genesis’ (150,000 words). I understand that your client list includes the authors James Becker, David Gibbins and Matt Hilton, and believe that my work may be of interest to you. Genesis tells of a race-against-time search for the existence of xxxxxxxxx, set against the political turmoil of the Middle East. As science discovers an extinct species of xxxxxxxxx and destroys the notion of man as a special creation, powerful groups seek to destroy the evidence before humanity learns of its true origins.
I am thirty-seven years old and have been writing for ten years, with previous work considered as full manuscripts by literary agents in 2007 ( Lorella Belli and Sheil Land Associates ). Genesis is the first in a planned series of novels featuring the protagonist Eddie Warner, a man with a talent for finding lost souls and exposing conspiracies in the world’s most dangerous places.
I have enclosed the first three chapters of Genesis and a short synopsis as advised on your website. Many thanks in advance for any time spent considering my work.
Mr Dean Crawford