My mom, a law-abiding citizen, unless you count a speeding ticket in the late seventies, loves Opium. Did I mention she’s a doctor? As in helps people to get well?
Opium (poppy tears, lachryma papaveris) is the dried latex obtained from opium poppies (Papaver somniferum). Opium contains up to 12% morphine, an opiate alkaloid, which is most frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids, such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine. The latex is obtained by lacerating (or “scoring”) the immature seed pods (fruits); the latex leaks out and dries to a sticky brown residue. This is scraped off the fruit. Meconium historically referred to related, weaker preparations made from other parts of the poppy or different species of poppies. Modern opium production is the culmination of millennia of production, in which the morphine content of the plants, methods of extraction and processing, and methods of consumption have become increasingly potent.
Okay, not THAT Opium. I’m talking about the perfume. You know the one. The spicy, seductive scent by Yves Saint Laurent.
Two very different things with the very same name. What’s the angle? Simple, really. It’s all in the marketing.
The perfume’s name draws us in with the promise of something exotic, hypnotic, something that will make you feel as if you’re floating on a cloud, experiencing another more pleasant reality. It’s the high without pesky addiction or jail time. And the perfume version doesn’t destroy entire countries. See Afghanistan.
The point is this: It’s all in how you package a product.
Keep this in mind when you’re spinning your latest project. Editors and agents often complain that they love a query letter or a synopsis, but when the partial manuscript winds up on the desk, it’s a very different project. Make sure your entire submission package has the same vibe, the same style. If you make changes to the manuscript, make sure they’re reflected in your other materials. While query letters and synopses demand a certain uniformity in style, you can still craft them to mirror the style of your manuscript.
You won’t win any favor by sending an agent or editor something very different from what was requested.
How would you like to order some Opium and end up with an illegal narcotic? Make sure what you send to agents and editors is exactly what they ask for and what they expect the project to be.