View Full Version : Newbie needs advice

08-17-2004, 02:13 AM
Hi all!
I was lucky enough to stumble upon this forum and was hoping for a few pointers. I am a first-time writer and my non-fiction book is about 50% complete. I have no idea where to go from here. I have searched the web for literary agents and sent out about a dozen inquiry letters. I have gotten back 2 form letter denials so far. ANY advice, suggestions, pointers are so welcome. As is any information on other websites, forums or FAQ's! Thanks!


Tish Davidson
08-17-2004, 05:14 AM
Agents are acquired and nonfiction books sold via book proposals. These are specific documents that detail not only the book, but the intended audience, marketing possibilities, and writer's credentials. If you don't know how to write one, you can start at www.adlerbooks.com (http://www.adlerbooks.com) and then invest in the Michael Larson book How to Write a Book Proposal. You need not finish the book to sell it. In fact, unlike novels, most non-fiction books are not complete when sold.

08-17-2004, 04:04 PM
It depends greatly on your topic and therefore the type of publisher that might be interested.

08-17-2004, 05:26 PM
Here is a short synopsis. Perhaps that will help.

A 37 year old, morbidly obese woman tells an always humorous and candid, often touching story of REAL life in America as a fat person. She discusses in detail things related to being heavy that the average person would never even imagine. Such topics include having to use a device to clean herself after using the toilet, sexual positions, going out in public, embarrassing episodes on airlines and in restaurants, dealing with fat necrosis, skin fold infections and much, much more. Follow her as she eats her way through marriage, divorce, cancer, suicides, and other life shaking events. Watch as she struggles with Weight Watchers, Physician’s Weight Loss, Slender World, Nutra-System, Atkins, Sugar-Busters, homeopathy and many other attempts to lose weight, only to fail and continue to gain weight. Join in as she risks her life, and almost loses, with gastric bypass surgery as her last resort to regain a life. Her life journey truly begins with the loss of over 200 pounds of fat, a new marriage and revelations of things never before accomplished. Experience her wonder and joy as she crosses her legs for the first time EVER! Be there as she gets on a ride at the State Fair for the first time, when she has plastic surgery to remove the huge aprons of fat around her waist and hanging from each arm. Watch as this woman blossoms before your eyes. You will certainly laugh, cringe, wince, be shocked, and cry. And you will love every last second of it. A book that you will not want to ever end!


08-17-2004, 06:49 PM
That sounds like one hell of a good book to me. Not a publishing area I am familair with but I will ask around.

aka eraser
08-17-2004, 11:33 PM
It does indeed sound like a very readable book. As well as the earlier suggestions, do take some time to review past threads on this board. Buried in there somewhere are other posts about queries, proposals and agents.

The Bewares and Background Checks board has good info regarding agents, esp. what to avoid. The FAQs board has some basic how-to's that may be helpful.

Check out your local bookstore for similar bios, humour and self-help-type books. Make a note of the publishers. Check the acknowledgments to see if they thank their agents. Make a note of their names if they do.

Work on the query and the proposal. Much of what you posted above could be incorporated into a dynamite query.

The project sounds like a winner to me. You just need to do some more homework on the nuts n' bolts of submitting.

Good luck.

08-27-2004, 05:19 PM
Thanks everyone. Your comments are helpful and encouraging!! All I have had is a mailbox full of agent denials! I will keep on trying.


08-27-2004, 09:32 PM
robin... the rejections could just be the standard stuff any new writer faces, but could also be the result of not having written an effective query/proposal... if you'd like, i'll be glad to take a look at what you're sending out and give you some feedback from the recipients' pov...

love and hugs, maia
maia3maia@hotmail.com (maia3maia@hotmail.com)

08-28-2004, 08:59 PM
Before you do anything else, finish the book. Agents and editor want finished books from first time writers, not proposals on unfinished books.

In any type of writing, finish and polish the book first, and then worry about agents and editors.

08-29-2004, 01:49 AM
james is right... first, you have to have something to sell...

Tish Davidson
08-30-2004, 03:59 AM
James, I beg to disagree. I had only newspaper and magazine credits, yet I had no difficulty acquiring a major agent with a non-fiction book proposal and three sample chapters. I was told that many publishers have specific requirements - length, style, reading level, etc. for some types of nf books, especially those that fit into an already developed line (like the Dummies series, but there are many others less obvious to the public, but well-defined by the marketing department) and they prefer enough to see that the author has the expertise and writing ability to develop a book, but not to have the whole thing complete, because they want to mold it to their already recognized line for marketing reasons. So, as in so much about publishing, whether you need a full book or a book proposal and sample chapters depends.

08-31-2004, 01:01 AM
who's the 'major agent'?

Tish Davidson
08-31-2004, 01:13 AM
mama, I answered you privately. I do not mention my agent in public forums anymore. I did that once and she started getting material from people on the board saying that I had recommended that they send her their stuff - writing that i have never seen. Once burned, permanently shy.

08-31-2004, 05:57 AM

Sounds like a great book!

Listen to Tish and Frank (eraser). They're the ones with non-fiction book credits. They won't steer you wrong...