We are thrilled that Nicole Brodeur mentioned The Business of Books and our upcoming retreat in her Sunday column. If you have a book idea but don’t know how to get published, come to our January publishing retreat at Willows Lodge. Read the article here.
Tag Archives: submission guidelines
In our experience, burgeoning authors spend a lot of time developing their manuscript. They may even create a strong proposal that covers the business and creative aspects of their project. Then they freeze. They feel as if they make one misstep and don’t follow all the (often invisible) rules, their project will be dismissed, rejected.
We’re here to reassure you. If you’ve put together a solid proposal about a compelling concept with great writing, you will get serious consideration from an agent or publisher. Your proposal won’t be kicked to the curb because you stapled it rather than used a binder clip.
Your submission packet should include your cover letter, your proposal, and any additional materials (if applicable). And for additional tips, here’s a handy checklist to make sure you’ve crossed your “T”s and dotted your “I”s.
- Include a footer on every page of your proposal that includes your name and page number.
- Staple or binder clip the pages together.
- Use your best judgment when it comes to presentation (double-spaced, easy-to-read 12-point type is always a good way to go).
- Spell check, proofread, be consistent in formatting (bullets, headlines), and enlist a second set of eyes to do a final read.
- While it’s not necessary, you can use letterhead/heavier stock for your cover letter.
- Be as specific as you can when addressing your packet. If you have a particular editor or agent to send your proposal to, great. If not, it’s fine; it will be reviewed by an appropriate person (it can be addressed to “Children’s Editor,” for example).
- Do not give a publisher or agent more sample text than outlined in their submission guidelines. Giving them more than they ask for in terms of other components of the proposal (marketing and competing titles, for example) is always okay.
- Unless otherwise specified in the submission guidelines, send your proposal via snail mail and be patient regarding a response. If there is an e-mail posted, contact the publisher or agent when the allotted time has passed.
While it’s good to heed the differences of submission guidelines (length of sample text, for example), don’t freak out about over-customizing your proposal. Most proposals can go as-is to multiple publishers and literary agents, as long as you have a complete, robust presentation. What’s most important is whether the CONCEPT is the right fit for that publisher or agent.
Want to make sure your submission lands you a publishing deal?
Join our upcoming webinar: How to Score a Book Deal.
You’ve got a book idea, but how do you get it out of your head—and onto the shelves? We’ll show you how to hone your idea, assess the competition, bulk up your author bio, choose the right sample text, strategically research publishers and agents, and develop a complete proposal, giving you all the tools you need to create a savvy, on-point submission. All this in a 2-part live webinar on November 12 & 19 at 6pm PT (and you can watch is over and over at your convenience).
Register here. (Tip: Use the code “writenw” for $49 off!)
In our workshops, we get this question a lot: What’s the difference between a cover letter and a query letter? Here’s the answer.
A cover letter is one page. It is what you attach to your complete book proposal when submitting it to agents or publishers. It is included as a teaser only, introducing the title and concept of your book, who you are, and why you are sending it to this particular agent or editor. (This shows you’ve done your homework and aren’t just blanketing Manhattan with submissions to anyone and everyone.) There is no need to go into extensive detail about your book in the cover letter; your goal is to simply pique enough interest for the reader to flip immediately to your impressive proposal—which you’ve crafted according to our awesome Business of Books plan.
A query letter is more fleshed out, as it stands in place of your proposal. Many agents require a query letter only, and will then request a full proposal if the concept intrigues them. So, in essence, your query is a mini-proposal, sent in advance. Think about distilling each of the key sections of your proposal—including your Intro, Competing Titles, About the Book, About the Author, and Marketing)—into a separate short paragraph. Be sure to close with the fact that you have a full proposal at the ready if (when!) they want to see more. Case in point: One of our former clients sent out three query letters via email to agents, per their guidelines, and two of them responded the next day asking to see more. This clever author had a polished, complete proposal ready to send right away, while the interest was fresh. Soon after, she signed with one of those two agents (and was published within the year).
Both the cover and the query letter should set the tone and voice of the proposal, and also highlight why your idea is strong and why you are the person to write it. Sell it!
For more helpful tips on your proposal, the submission process, and all things publishing, buy our Publishing Toolkit. It’s Jen & Kerry in a binder!