HOW TO WRITE PUBLISHERS A GOOD QUERY LETTER
I just received a LIST OF AGENTS in NYC/ HOLLYWOOD from MAHESH GROSSMAN's website. I thanked him and he wrote me an email, was very kind. The File that he offers was PDF. Now I'd never done adobe pdf and printed it out, but hesitatingly, I WAS ABLE TO. I hit 'reduce' font size to l0, and printed without problem. Now have fones, fax, emails of some really good agents. Big long list. Here's what started me off on this odyssey.
FROM THE DESK OF MAHESH GROSSMAN:
"You're getting this issue of Author Secrets because you're one of the
24,131 people who were smart enough to subscribe to this
newsletter—possibly when you downloaded a fr/ee list of agents. (If you
forgot how to download it, sign up again at
www.findagreatliteraryagent.com and you will be e-mailed instructions.)
This issue of Author Secrets was inspired by a question sent by one
or our readers: What is a book proposal and what do you include in it?
For more detailed info, buy my book *Write a Book
Without Lifting a Finger* at www.writeabooktoday.com.
It features a detailed step-by-step guide to writing a book
proposal and four examples of proposals that landed agents
and publishers, including two by little known first time authors
who sold their books for over $100,000.
Here's the article:
LAND A BOOK DEAL FROM JUST TWENTY PAGES
My father used to tell me that you could build or fix anything
with the right tools.
If you want to land a book deal for a non-fiction book,
the right tool is a book proposal. A book proposal consists
of some marketing information, your biography, and a
twenty-page sample of your book, hence the title of this article.
Even if you have written a complete manuscript, make sure you submit a book
first—not the manuscript.
Here's why publishing pros want a sample instead of the whole book:
1) They are incredibly busy. The major publishing houses
receive as many as 5000 book proposals a week. Literary
agents get inundated as well. They just don't have time to
read complete manuscripts.
2) They want to know why they should invest in you. Publishing
is a business. More than half of a book proposal is a business
plan that explains how and why your book will make money.
3) They may only like part of your idea. An editor may think,
*gee, if he writes *x* instead of *y*, I might be interested.* And she'll
tell you. But with a complete manuscript, it's hard to tell someone
they should have taken a different path starting on page 37.
Instead, you'll just hear *no*.
4) If publishing pros do like your idea, they need it in a form that
they can present to other people. Agents present your material
to editors. And editors submit your idea to an editorial board.
They make the final decision, and they don't have enough time
to read your whole book.
THE SECRET FORMULA
If you want significant attention from agents and publishers,
make sure your book proposal includes each of these ingredients:
1. A GREAT TITLE PAGE
A great title can go a long way toward selling your book. So your
title page is very important. Include your name and contact information
on this page.
2. TABLE OF CONTENTS (for the proposal)
List the sections of your book proposal and the pages they are on.
3. THE OVERVIEW
An overview is a one to three page mini-version of your proposal.
Start off with a short paragraph that's an attention-grabber.
This is called the hook. Look at any bestselling paperback for
an example of how to write three or four sentences that will quickly grab a
Include a paragraph or two on each of the following: the main
benefits and features of your book, who its audience will be, and
why they'll buy your book instead of another one that is already
published. Add a paragraph that explains why you're especially
qualified to be the author of this text.
4. THE AUDIENCE
Prove to an agent or editor that there are enough people
interested in your subject to make your book worth publishing.
Make sure you use statistics.
5. THE COMPETITION
For this section, answer these two questions:
A) What are five or six of the bestselling books that compete
B) How does your book differ from each of those books?
What does your book do better than they do?
Write six short paragraphs, one per book, about what your
book does better than each of these books.
6. ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Show why you are qualified to write on your particular topic here.
Also mention your general writing experience. Include anything that
indicates you have a built-in audience for your book.
What will your book look like when it's published? Describe it here.
How many words will it be? (A double-spaced manuscript page
contains 250 words.) How long it will take you to finish? (Take
your best guess and then add three months.) What format do
you want it to be published in—hardcover, trade paperback,
or mass market paperback? Will there be any drawings or
8. PROMOTION STRATEGIES
Publishers need to be convinced that your book will sell.
Show them how you plan on getting your book in front
of the specific target audiences you mentioned earlier
in the proposal. Will you hire a publicist? Do you speak
in front of groups? Do you have a syndicated column,
or an e-zine with lots of subscribers? Are you planning on
starting off with a great media event for charity? You need
to have some plan so that people can become aware of you
and your book.
This section is a short outline of your book, along the
order of a table of contents.
10. CHAPTER SUMMARIES
Build evidence that you have a whole book, not just a long
magazine article. Briefly describe the material you will include
in each chapter. Use at least half a page, but don't go over a
full page per chapter, unless you have a really good reason.
11. SAMPLE CHAPTERS
What do agents and editors want to see in your sample
chapters? Your knowledge, your heart, your personality
and your writing skill.
Include about twenty pages of your book, or one to
three chapters. Start each chapter in a way that will
captivate readers. Use a stunning statistic, a metaphor,
tell a story, or ask questions that will make your reader
feel like you are writing about her. Close each chapter
in a way that will leave your wanting to read more.
That's the formula. Write a strong enough book proposal
and you could wind up getting paid to write your book.
It may seem like the odds are against you, but as literary
agent and author Peter Rubie says, *if you have a polished
and well-written book idea, you're in competition, not with
all the others who submit, but with the 5 to 10 percent
whose material cries out to be taken seriously by editors and
To look at four samples of book proposals that sold (two by
first-time authors who received over 100K to write their books),
buy Write a Book Without Lifting a Finger, available
Leah Komaiko, bestselling author of *Am I Old Yet* calls this book:
*the best stuff about book proposals I've ever seen . . . I actually
used to teach book proposal writing at U.C.L.A. and when I found
Mahesh's book I just basically walked in and said, *You know,
instead of a twelve week class, just go get this book and
everything will be fine.*
You may post or send this article to anyone you want as long as
you credit Mahesh Grossman as the author AND it includes the following
information at the end
of the article:
Mahesh Grossman is the author of Write a Book Without Lifting a Finger
(www.writeabooktoday.com) and President of The Authors Team
(www.AuthorsTeam.com), a company
that helps credible experts
become Incredible Authors, through ghostwriting, editing, coaching,
and publishing. He can be reached via e-mail at:
GetPublished@AuthorsTeam.com. For a fr/ee list of more than
400 agents as well as a newsletter with tips on how to find an
agent, get published, publish your own book and get publicity
for it, go to www.findagreatliteraryagent.com or
That's it for today. If you have a question that you think lots
of writers will want to know the answer to, send it to me with
the subject *Question of the week* at GetPublished@AuthorsTeam.com.
Here's to your bestseller,