It’s been linked several places, but this excellent thread is a must-read for any aspiring writer. Any neophyte may want to spend their time reading James D. McDonald’s advice rather than subscribing to Writer’s Digest.
Sarah has some good followup to the McCrum article about publishing changes, raising the validity of proposal/synopsis only justification for a contract. But one thing she overlooks is that the new synopsis trend may very well reflect a profit-driven industry looking to cut corners wherever possible. Short-term profits with little concern of the book’s gestalt or long-term profits based off of constant communication between author and editor? You make the call. The goal, lest we forget, is to get people to buy the books. And the longer the book, the less susceptible it is to editing. (See Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver, for one.) There’s the additional financial advantage of a long book purchased and then remaining unread on most people’s bookshelves.