Query Letters and Book Proposals

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“This is my letter to the world…Her message is committed/To hands I cannot see/ For love of her, sweet countrymen/Judge tenderly of me!”

~Emily Dickinson

Have you written a manuscript that deserves to be published? Or… Do you have a book idea that is so brilliant or unique that publishers will want to contract with you before the writing process even begins?

You’ve come to the right place!

Our experienced team of published editors and ghostwriters can develop or refine your promotional materials to greatly improve your chances of securing a lucrative publishing contract. When it comes to grabbing the attention of a literary agent or publisher, the strength of your query letter or book proposal is nearly as important as the quality of your manuscript itself. This is your one chance to generate excitement and stand out from the droves of writers looking to be published. Your concise, one-page query letter includes your book concept and your author credentials, while a book proposal is more in-depth and can be submitted for a book that is still under development. For both query letters and book proposals, there are many rules, both written and unwritten, about what makes them successful. That’s where we come in: we can ensure that your query or proposal includes all of the essential information about your book without reading like a stale template. It is a daunting task to effectively summarize hundreds of pages of content that took months or even years to create. Let us present your book in a fresh, compelling voice to give your book the opportunity it deserves.

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Please call us to talk about your book and we’ll be happy to discuss how we can create the most effective query letter or book proposal for you.

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What are the components of a query letter? How is it different than a book proposal?

While there is no magic formula for the perfect query letter (in fact, the more personalized each letter is, the better), there are certain components that should generally be included.

First and foremost, a query letter is never longer than one page. Within that page, you must be sure to include a hook (a one- or two-line attention-grabbing statement that conveys the essence of your book), a brief bio that describes your credentials as an author, an explanation of why you think your book is a good fit for the agent or publisher, and last but not least, basic info about your book (such as the title, genre, and word count).

In addition to these specific elements, be sure to personalize, personalize, personalize! Have you attended a workshop with the literary agent or one of their associates? Have you studied one of their published authors? Did you hear the president of their company speak at a conference? Include anything you can that shows you’ve researched the agent or publisher, that you know their work, and that your book would be a good fit within their existing markets and business model.

A book proposal is quite similar to a query letter, except that it is longer and generally includes a synopsis or outline of the book, chapter summaries, detailed author bio, marketing platform/strategy, and a market analysis. Book proposals are generally used for nonfiction books and can be submitted for a manuscript that is not yet complete.

In general, authors of fiction and memoir/autobiography will submit a query letter and authors of nonfiction will submit book proposals.

Wondering what you should do for your book? Give us a call to get your free consultation.

Can I send the same query letter to more than one agent or publisher?

Significant sections of your query letter can be sent to more than one agent or publisher; however, query letters are most effective when they are customized to your recipient. Most successful query letters include a section about how your manuscript relates to the distinct character or priorities of the agent or publisher you’re contacting.

Should I send my manuscript along with my query letter?

Unless you’ve been specifically requested or directed to do so, don’t send your entire manuscript with your query letter! This is a classic pet peeve for agents and publishers and, more often than not, your unsolicited manuscript will end up in the recycling bin. Instead, be sure that your query letter or book proposal is attention grabbing and contains all of the necessary information about you and your book. Each agent will have specific submission requirements, which typically include a small writing sample from your book. If they like what they see, they’ll ask you to submit the entire manuscript for review.

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