Lately, I’ve been sending queries to agents for my manuscript The Hollywood Effect. It is my best work so far, in my opinion, but has a special feature that can make it a risky sell, which I’ll explain later.
I could submit straight to publishers instead of agents, but a lot of publishers won’t even consider your work without an agent (though there are a lot of agents who won’t consider you if you haven’t been published before). Agents also help you get the best deals and do tricky and unpleasant negotiations for you. So for now I’m trying the agent route.
Here is the actual summary of my book that is in my query letter to agents.* Don’t worry—there aren’t any spoilers; you need to leave agents wanting more so they’ll request some pages to read—or even better, the full manuscript.
Some people in the movie business have suggested to Valerie Ipsum that she is Hollywood’s newest rising star. Valerie hopes they are wrong.
She’d tried out for a small film just for fun and ended up getting the leading role despite having no acting experience. Gwen, her character, is a selfish, promiscuous, and destructive socialite whose only joy is making her husband miserable, and for the role Valerie engaged in profuse swearing, mental breakdowns and even nudity. At the time it had seemed right for the character, but now she is mortified that people will see her like that in theaters.
Instead of embracing the fame that trickles her way, she does all she can to avoid it. Her new boyfriend, the movie’s director, encourages her to do what’s right for her and not let Hollywood change her, but the more she resists attention the less like Valerie she is and the more she behaves like the last person in the world she wants to mimic—her own character, Gwen.
Then a celebrity-obsessed stalker endangers Valerie and her young brother, making her more afraid than ever of being in the spotlight. Just like Gwen, Valerie finds herself isolated from everyone she loves, and following her character’s path could easily lead Valerie toward tragedy.
The special feature I’ve mentioned earlier is that the full screenplay of Valerie’s movie appears throughout the book. I do it to compare Valerie to Gwen, but I like the screenplay’s story just as much as the narrative. I wrote the screenplay in traditional format but made it readable (no direction notes or jargon), so hopefully it’s entertaining and doesn’t have to be seen on an actual movie screen to be enjoyed.
I thought at some point I’d make a short play about Gwen and Sam—the screenplay’s two main characters—in the same style and put it up here. I have notes written for it, but I just haven’t gotten around to writing it yet.
*Summary was updated March 13, 2010 to reflect the edits made to my query letter.