Once upon a time a king of Persia would divorce his former wife by having her beheaded, and promptly married a new virgin. All this took exactly one day.
One woman wanted to live, so she told the king a long, dazzling story that ended with a cliffhanger, and promised to tell him more the next night if he would not kill her. The king allowed her to live another day to hear the rest of the story, which the next night she spun into a new cliffhanger.
She kept telling her husband such stories for 1001 nights, until at last the king fell in love with her, and decreed she would live for as long as he loved her, which was forever. The end.
[Editor's note: Divorce by beheading? Virgin bride? No one's reading Elizabethan stuff, you know. Gruesome start might work as a hook, but then what happens to the story? Goes completely flat. HEA just doesn't work for me -- better overhaul this one top to bottom. And hey, where's the hero?]
Revised Story Synopsis
Once upon a time a major publisher would get rid of a veteran author with poor numbers by axing all of said author's proposals, and then would promptly sign a new author. All this took exactly 18 months, seven weeks, four days, countless conference calls and at least two luncheons downtown with the new author's agent.
One author wanted to write for a living, and so sent the publisher a dazzling novel proposal that ended with a cliffhanger, and promised to keep writing more of the story if the publisher bought the rights. The publisher signed the author, who kept writing many more novels, each ending with a new cliffhanger.
The author kept writing, until at last the readers fell in love with the author's books, and publishing decreed the author would remain in print for as long as the sell-through didn't bottom out, and to please hurry up with the next book because production screwed up the printer schedule. (It doesn't end.)
[Editor's Note: Much, much better. Not for our historical romance imprint -- too modern now -- but if you can make the ending a little sadder (sudden tragic death of the author's lover, etc.) would be perfect for our lit division. Have your agent call us asap.]