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7 Steps to Writing A Book Publishing Query

Tips on Writing Book Proposals The Way Editors Want

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7 Steps to Writing A Book Publishing Query Letter


  1. Book Proposal - Complete a book proposal for a non-fiction book. Ensure it is impeccable in format and content. Clearly ouline how your book project offers something new and differentiates from other books in the same genre already on the market.
  2. Agents List - You can find a list of agents online, in bookstores or at the library. Select 30 agents that have sold books similar to yours - and are still selling them. Get the agents name, phone number and preferred method of contact [email/mail] address.
  3. Confirm the Contact - Call each of these agents. Tell them you are a potential author and ask if they have 2 mintue to answer a couple of questions.
    1. Is [NAME OF AGENT] still the correct agent for book on [SUBJECT]. Female agents surnames can often change due to changes in marital status.
    2. Is the email address / mailing address [ADDRESS] still correct.

      Thank them and hang up, unless they initiate asking you questions.
  4. Write Query - a 2-3 concise paragraphs starting with what you feel you can do for them - That you can provide them with a book about a currently hot topic [quote stats] for example, my book "The Logical Organization" refers to using business intelligence to make better decisions. I have proven, independent authorative research that over 85% of executives believe that most decisions made in corporate America are made with insufficient information. If your book relates to a medical condition such as obesity - get the stats on how many Americans suffer from it, and the impact it has on their lives.

    If you have impressive credentials, and ONLY if, you may refer to these. For instance, I have been a corporate performance consultant for over 20 years - so I have a pretty good idea as to how decisions are being made today and what tools and methodologies are or are not used.

    ADD as the closing para - "This is a multiple submission. A SASE is enclosed for your response. I look forward to hearing from you promptly."

  5. The Agent wants to know only 3 things:

    1. Can they sell the book
    2. To which publisher
    3. For how much
  6. Thats it - so only give them what they want. They dont want to know that it was inspired by your dog Shabby, who went ape when you whatever!! Remember - most agents get hundreds of queries a week - so give them the facts and back away.

  7. Send the Query - Email / Mail the agent using their name [not Sir/Madam]. If you are mailing a physical address, add a stamped address envelope suitable for their response and the return of your material.
  8. Follow Up After 6 weeks - Do not call to follow up on a query earlier than this. Anyone who hasn't responded in that time isn't interested, or is too busy to help you.

Next: Tips on Writing Book Proposals

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