How to Build Better Query Letters and Book Proposals

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Published on March 21, 2014

Author: melanierigney

Source: slideshare.net

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Is your book ready for a traditional publisher? Congratulations! Learn the ins-and-outs, and "do this," "don't do that" for query letters and book proposals.

How to Build Better Query Letters and Book Proposalsand Book Proposals Melanie Rigney LaJolla Writers Conference November 2009

What Is a Q er Letter?What Is a Query Letter? • It’s a way to introduce yourIt s a way to introduce your idea to agents and publishers. • The goal is to whet their interest so they ask for a proposal or sample chapters. For permission to reproduce this presentation, please contact Melanie Rigney. 2

How Is a Query Letter Structured? • Keep it short—one page,Keep it short one page, single spaced. • Set up your query letter likeSe up you que y e e e any other business correspondence: block style with margins 1 to 1 ½ inches all around, white paper Don’t forget all yourpaper. Don’t forget all your contact information. For permission to reproduce this presentation, please contact Melanie Rigney. 3

Ho Is a Q er Letter Str ct red?How Is a Query Letter Structured? • Remember WHAT/HOW/WHY/WHO. – Paragraph One: WHAT is your idea? This is your hook, the most crucial part of your query letter. – Paragraph Two: HOW are you going to execute the idea/WHY should the publisher’s customer care?publisher s customer care? – Paragraph Three: WHO are you—that is, what qualifies you to write this particular book or article?particular book or article? • Conclude by saying you look forward to hearing from the recipient; enclose SASE if indicated For permission to reproduce this presentation, please contact Melanie Rigney. 4 recipient; enclose SASE if indicated.

Q er Letter Do’s and Don’tsQuery Letter Do’s and Don’ts • DO bulletproof your hook.p y Brainstorm with some “what if” questions. • DON’T apologize if you’reDON T apologize if you re unpublished and/or have been rejected by others. • DO use e queries if the agent or• DO use e-queries if the agent or publisher accepts them. • DON’T make the second h liffhparagraph a cliffhanger. • DON’T requery an agent or publisher who has said no For permission to reproduce this presentation, please contact Melanie Rigney. 5 p once.

What Is a Book Proposal?What Is a Book Proposal? • It provides a quickIt provides a quick snapshot for prospective agents and publishers. • It helps clarify your goal. • It makes life easier for agents and editors. • The goal is to get them to ask for the full manuscript. For permission to reproduce this presentation, please contact Melanie Rigney. 6

What’s in a Book Proposal?What’s in a Book Proposal? Nonfiction • A one-sentence summary • 75-word summary 1 t 3 i• 1- to 3-page overview • Reader profile • Competitive analysisCompetitive analysis • Platform/marketing • Author bio • Chapter-by-chapter outline • Three sample chapters • Endorsements For permission to reproduce this presentation, please contact Melanie Rigney. 7 Endorsements

What’s in a Book Proposal?What’s in a Book Proposal? Fiction • Synopsis (length varies) • Three consecutive chapters • Chapter-by-chapter outline • Author bio d t• Endorsements • 75-word summary • Reader profile• Reader profile • Competitive analysis • Platform/marketing For permission to reproduce this presentation, please contact Melanie Rigney. 8 Platform/marketing

S nopsis/O er ieSynopsis/Overview • A critical, perhaps the most, p p critical, piece of the proposal. • If a synopsis, written in present t d i thi d (tense and in third person (even if the work itself is written in first person). • Establish the hook at the beginning (lead character/conflict or keycharacter/conflict or key reader need). For permission to reproduce this presentation, please contact Melanie Rigney. 9

S nopsis/O er ieSynopsis/Overview • Just hit the highlights; withinJust hit the highlights; within reason, you’re better to send a synopsis/overview that’s too short than too long. • Forget the flowery writing and scene setting. ’t i l d di l• Don’t include dialogue or exercises. For permission to reproduce this presentation, please contact Melanie Rigney. 10

Competiti e Anal sisCompetitive Analysis • Three to five books published inp the past five years on a similar topic by a first-time author. Th f l th b tt• The more successful, the better; stay away from self-published books for this exercise. • Provide the title, author, publisher, page count, a brief synopsis and how your book issynopsis, and how your book is different. For permission to reproduce this presentation, please contact Melanie Rigney. 11

Platform/MarketingPlatform/Marketing • For some agents and publishers,g p this may be even more important than the synopsis/overview.y p • Include everything tangible you can do to reach your target audienceaudience. – Association memberships – Professional connections – Speaking opportunities– Speaking opportunities – Media connections – Online activities For permission to reproduce this presentation, please contact Melanie Rigney. 12

Don’t Despair!Don’t Despair! • For many writers, proposaly p p writing is the most difficult thing they will ever do. But if a publisher is going to take ap g g chance on you, you need to do this right! • Writing proposals also helps youWriting proposals also helps you with your marketing down the road, as you’ve learned how to succinctly say what your book’ssuccinctly say what your book s about. • They get easier and easier to write Honest! For permission to reproduce this presentation, please contact Melanie Rigney. 13 write. Honest!

Reso rcesResources • Formatting and SubmittingFormatting and Submitting Your Manuscript (WD Books) • Write the Perfect Book Proposal (Jeff Herman) • How to Write a Book Proposal (Michael Larsen) For permission to reproduce this presentation, please contact Melanie Rigney. 14

Q estions?Questions? Melanie RigneyMelanie Rigney Editor for You 4201 Wilson Blvd #1103284201 Wilson Blvd. #110328 Arlington, VA 22203-1859 (703) 863 3940(703) 863-3940 www.editorforyou.com Editor@editorforyou comEditor@editorforyou.com For permission to reproduce this presentation, please contact Melanie Rigney. 15

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