PDA

View Full Version : Query Letter for nonfiction



RainBrain
08-04-2005, 01:58 PM
In about 287 words i narrate fully what my book is about and then tell the agent that the completed 31,000 word manuscript is available upon request. should i also include a synopsis?

my mss is not a novel (obviously), but more of a memoir/how-to type of book

MadScientistMatt
08-04-2005, 04:53 PM
Agents frequently have different guidelines for querry letters. Some ask for a synopsis and some don't.

I couldn't help but notice your word count. That's likely to end up as a book with less than 70 pages. Before you write a querry letter, you might want to see how good the market is for books of that size.

RainBrain
08-04-2005, 07:18 PM
Agents frequently have different guidelines for querry letters. Some ask for a synopsis and some don't.

I couldn't help but notice your word count. That's likely to end up as a book with less than 70 pages. Before you write a querry letter, you might want to see how good the market is for books of that size.

actually its well over 70 pages. and between the time i send the query letters and the time the agents even read it, i would have brought it up to at least 40,000 or more

and by the way, this is a query letter. not a synopsis. as i understand it, query letters aren't and shouldn't even be more than a page long. mine was. so i had to condense it so it doesn't scare away a busy agent

MadScientistMatt
08-04-2005, 07:32 PM
Your manuscript is probably a good bit longer, but if you have used the standard manuscript format, it is likely to shrink considerably when it is typeset for printing. You didn't mention that it is only 31,000 words in the querry, did you? And your first post suggested that it was complete, rather than likely to grow.

You're right that a standard querry letter is usually just one page long. There are other sorts of pitches, such as book proposals, that can be longer.

Pat~
08-04-2005, 07:40 PM
It seems a little long for a query letter. In mine for a nonfiction book (which netted a request for a proposal), I covered what the book was about in one paragraph (the second one). The first paragraph should be all about HOOK--to get your publ. interested in reading the query in the first place. Something startling, something about the book that is an attention grabber, and introduces your second paragraph. Then, the third paragraph should be all about your credentials/experience, and the 4th paragraph, a 'thank you very much for your consideration...'.

Hope this helps.

RainBrain
08-04-2005, 08:39 PM
a big thank you to madscientist and pb10220.

to mad or anyone else who can answer,

i didn't mention anything about the word count in the query letter. i set up the query letter the best as i could after having read dozens on the net.

getting additional word count isn't going to be a problem for me because the mere possibility alone that i get a reply back from any agent requesting more information can inspire me to write up 10 thousand words in a day.

and oh, i didnt include my telephone number in the letter. is it ok if i leave it as is or should i put it in just in case? some sites says it points out amateurishness if i do. is this right?

underthecity
08-04-2005, 09:05 PM
I don't see how it could be "amateurish." After all, I have read many reports of agents who review authors' submissions and are impressed and telephone them. I would say the more contact information you put in, the better. And of course, put your last name on every page of the manuscript. You probably knew that already, though.

Good luck. I'm looking forward to your updates.

underthecity

RainBrain
08-05-2005, 05:50 PM
I don't see how it could be "amateurish." After all, I have read many reports of agents who review authors' submissions and are impressed and telephone them. I would say the more contact information you put in, the better. And of course, put your last name on every page of the manuscript. You probably knew that already, though.

Good luck. I'm looking forward to your updates.

underthecity

thanks a lot. i appreciate your help

Lauri B
08-05-2005, 07:57 PM
a big thank you to madscientist and pb10220.

to mad or anyone else who can answer,

i didn't mention anything about the word count in the query letter. i set up the query letter the best as i could after having read dozens on the net.

getting additional word count isn't going to be a problem for me because the mere possibility alone that i get a reply back from any agent requesting more information can inspire me to write up 10 thousand words in a day.

and oh, i didnt include my telephone number in the letter. is it ok if i leave it as is or should i put it in just in case? some sites says it points out amateurishness if i do. is this right?

If you're writing 10,000 words in one day, I hope you're giving yourself some time to rework them before submitting to an agent or publisher. Don't mention the number of words in your query, simply get the agent interested in the topic and your manuscript, and go from there.

When you write your query letter, include your name and contact information at the top of your letterhead. That way your phone number is already included and you don't have to worry about "amateurishness," although I can't imagine why an agent would mark you as an amateur if you tell them how to get in touch with you . . .

underthecity
08-05-2005, 08:53 PM
If you're writing 10,000 words in one day, I hope you're giving yourself some time to rework them before submitting to an agent or publisher. . . . and you don't have to worry about "amateurishness," although I can't imagine why an agent would mark you as an amateur if you tell them how to get in touch with you . . .

IMHO, and I'm not saying you're doing this, but the real mark of the amateur is the one who writes the 10,000 words without reworking them before submittal. The amateur also leaves off his name and/or phone number.

The professional is the one who gives all his contact information. You WANT an agent to call you. And if the agent likes your work, he'll WANT to call you.

underthecity

RainBrain
08-05-2005, 11:33 PM
IMHO, and I'm not saying you're doing this, but the real mark of the amateur is the one who writes the 10,000 words without reworking them before submittal. The amateur also leaves off his name and/or phone number.

The professional is the one who gives all his contact information. You WANT an agent to call you. And if the agent likes your work, he'll WANT to call you.

underthecity


oh reworking is what it is about. iin fact, i have a problem with this. i cant seem to stop thinking of more than one ways of saying what i want to say. i end up erasing and replacing words numerous times. as i'm reworking, i get more ideas to add to the book so its like i need an immediate demand for the manuscript for me to make up my mind to end it.

christa
08-06-2005, 05:27 PM
Rainbrain, as I've followed this thread, I've had a few thoughts. But it is your last post which brings me out of the woodwork.

I understand exactly where you are. You are in the throes of creation itself. You are peaking in the writer's longing of the culmination his art. But be careful, you are being driven by this adreneline, but you are not ready to submit to an agent. Suppose some agent says yes to you immediately and there you'll be: Pulling hair, wringing hands, backhanding the cocktail in one gulp, saying ohmigod, ohmigod over and over. And there will be your manuscript: A jumbled mess hoping it's going to grow up real quick-like to become a wholly-rounded, dignified presentation. I can bet one of two things will happen: You'll embarrass yourself with the agent hemming and hawing about your unfinished, undefined, unedited manuscript; or, you'll convince yourself you can pull it off, (since you may well be the I-work-well-under-deadline-pressure type,) but instead you end up presenting a project which clearly shows its hurried and unprofessional push to acknowledgment. In both cases the agent will lose interest immediately.

However, since your manuscript is a memoir and how-to (still trying to imagine that mix) the story itself may be fascinating enough to hold interest in spite of your presentation. This is rarely the case however and I wouldn't want to take that egocentric chance. Unless you're a celebrity, most likely you really have no new or unique story which will be of interest to the reading public. It is only through their telling and their presentation that stories become new and fresh. Therein lies your power.

Some writer (can't remember who--maybe Mark Twain) said: "Writing? I hate it. I hate to write. I just like having written."

The process is hard and painful. Not only do you have to "open up a vein and bleed"--but you have to know how and when to shut the flow down, then go back and clean up the mess. I see you as still bleeding, Rainbrain.

If you are in the midst of struggling with your own editing/rewriting process, I would recommend finding someone with some editing or writing capabilites to take a look and give you feedback.

Goodluck.

RainBrain
08-10-2005, 12:46 PM
thanks christa for your input.


as of right now i dont know where the direction of this book is heading. i'm very sad to say i might have to put in on hold. i went outter state a few days ago to go visit my dad. it was the whole family in the car. we had an accident in which half of the whole right side of my face sorta peeled off. they had to stitch me up. i'm very depressed right now and i have no clue why this crap had to happen to me. last time when i was on this board, i knew i'd be putting the finishing touches to the book right about now or probably be completely done. but as fate would it...........you know.

christa
08-10-2005, 07:01 PM
Wow Rainbrain! What an ordeal. I'm so sorry you've had such a miserable accident. I can sure imagine how devasted you must feel. I'm glad to hear you weren't hurt more seriously. I guess it could always be worse, and recognizing that blessing in itself would be one way to move beyond the feeling of victimization and depression. Nevertheless, I am lifting you up.

Meanwhile, don't be discouraged if you feel you need to lay aside your manuscript for a while. It seems sometimes life trys to bring subtle (or not so subtle, in your case :)) hints to approach our purposes from a different perspective. If and when the time is right, your manuscript will call you back. I suggest you start a new project--something you can feel passionate about. Make it a smaller venture which will preoccupy you for a while but which would have a closer term conclusion--perhaps a short story or non-fiction article/essay. (I don't know your genre.)

I wish you the best.

Sassenach
08-10-2005, 08:19 PM
. i went outter state a few days ago to go visit my dad. it was the whole family in the car. we had an accident in which half of the whole right side of my face sorta peeled off. they had to stitch me up.


Maybe I'm being overly suspicious...but this sounds a bit like the famous HB Marcus emergency room visit last Easter.

Epicman
08-18-2005, 09:12 AM
Can someone fill me in on this? I have heard it before but dont know what it is all about.

Epicman

Sassenach
08-19-2005, 10:14 PM
Can someone fill me in on this? I have heard it before but dont know what it is all about.

Epicman

Use the search function. It will direct you to germane links.