Since I'm reliving this summer's painstaking steps, here's another one:
I wrote a two-page synopsis.
The idea of that makes me shudder all over again. Yup, boiling an 88,000+ word book into roughly 700 words, omg.
I turned to Writers Digest and Chuck Sambuchino again. Chuck has some great examples of effective synopses, using mostly movie plots: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/synopsis-example-ransom-thriller
Formatting, again, rules the game.
Same set-up at the top of the page:
Single space, on separate lines, left align:
And across from that on the top, single space on separate lines, right align:
Start double space, then all caps center:
TITLE - SYNOPSIS
After you're done staring at your blank screen, start with a zippy hook that mentions your protagonist immediately. The first time a character is mentioned, use all caps for the name. (I mentioned a total of four main characters in my synopsis.)
Leave out the subplots, use the present tense, and TELL THE ENDING. The synopsis is pretty much all telling, no showing, unlike the book.
Which is why it sucks to write it.
But you have to. Work hard on it. Take your time. Again, I ran mine by Chuck (using his editing service - he was fastttttt!), thenextbigwriters.com, and Laura Kingsley (the freelance editor I hired near the tail end of the whole process).
I sent my synopsis with ALL my queries and pages, even when it wasn't requested.
With my agent research in place -- well, actually, it was a never-ending process; my manuscript theoretically done (again) and properly formatted; my query letter finalized (again); and my synopsis finished -- I was as ready as I would ever be.
And I thought, if I didn't land an agent in August, I never would. In which case, I'd crawl into bed, cover my head with pillows and blankets, and never get up again.