Unlike with Non-fiction submissions where we can submit to publishers with an outline and sample chapters, Fiction is almost always submitted as a full manuscript. But whilst we want you to have completed your novel when you submit to us, we only ask for you to submit the first three chapters (if your chapters are particularly short then please submit the first 30-40 pages). If we are excited about your novel we will then ask to see the full manuscript. We also ask for a full synopsis covering the whole plot as well as a pitch.
We've laid out some key things to consider when putting these together for your book below.
The ideal pitch won't be too long, preferably not much longer than a side of A4. It will start with an elevator pitch - a line or two that covers exactly what your book is about - and then have a slightly longer pitch, possibly along the lines of what the blurb for the book might look like to really whet our appetite. We don't want the synopsis here, that comes later, we want to be engaged and excited to read more.
Do include a little biographical information, we are interested in who you are insofar as it relates to the book and helping us understand the narrative of where it comes from. If the book is funny it helps for us to know if you're a stand-up comedian, if it's crime we definitely want to know if you're a pathologist, if it's a love story then tell us what inspired it. We don't need to know your life history, just what will help us understand where you and the book intersect.
We are also are interested in why you'd like to be represented by us, if there is a particular reason. We don't want it to be sycophantic, but if there's a particular reason you feel like we would be an especially good fit for you, or if there's a book we've represented or worked on that you admire or connect with, then we would like to know about that. Though if it's simply that you'd like an agent and you come from a group under-represented in publishing then that's completely fine.
Finally we want you to include some comparative titles - books that you think people who would read your book have also read and would see similarities between your book and those books.
We can't provide a length guideline because it does depend quite a bit on how long your book is and how complex it is. We want you to include everything that's important to the plot whilst keeping it as succinct as possible. It has to contain spoilers, including any twists and we have to know what happens at the end. And whilst it doesn't need to be as well written as your book is, it is still your writing and we do still expect it to be engaging.
If you are struggling to keep it succinct or put it together in a way that works this could be a sign that you haven't quite got the structure of your book right and may need to look at how you can rework it so that the narrative shines through clearly. Likewise if any of the characters seem unclear in the synopsis you might want to look at how you can clarify them.
These absolutely have to be from the beginning of the book. It's where readers start and it's also where they'll end if it doesn't get them engaged.