Okay, so you’re a traditional publishing holdout, and this blogged book exercise managed to get you to write your whole manuscript but didn’t get you discovered. Now it’s time to get that proposal written and approach an agent or a small to mid-sized publisher.
In this case, you must do two things: write a fabulous query and write a phenomenal proposal. A query letter contains three things: a lead paragraph that entices an agent or publisher to want to read your manuscript, your pitch plus information about the length of your book and any special features, and why you are the perfect person to write the book. The proposal contains the nine essential elements a publisher will use to determine if your book fits their list, if they feel a market exists for the book and if they feel you are both the right person to write the book and the best person to become their business partner. To learn about these elements, go back and read the earlier posts about the sections of a nonfiction book proposal. You can find the first one here; subsequent ones follow.
Put your book proposal together and have it professionally edited. The nonfiction book proposal represents the most important selling document you will ever create. They say you only have one chance to make a first impressions; that holds true when pitching a book. Let a professional help you make the best first impression possible. Make every word count and present an error-free document. Also, be sure that the editor you choose knows what goes into a nonfiction book proposal. Don’t just use any editor.
Also have your query letter professionally edited and proofread.
Then send out the query letter to agents and publishers. Large publishing houses typically only want agented submissions. You can submit to small and some mid-sized publishers without an agent.
Once you get a positive response from an agent or publisher, you can send in your proposal with a cover letter.
Check publisher’s and agent’s submission guidelines. For submission guidelines or to find agents and publishers, check Writer’s Market or Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents.
Don’t give up if you are rejected many times. Even the best authors have been rejected hundreds of times. I’ve heard this advice: When you get a rejection letter, just say, “Next.” Or say, “I must have sent that query to the wrong address. Next time I’ll send it to the right address.”