View Full Version : Submission questions

02-26-2005, 05:37 AM
I have a few questions for you experienced writers. When you send out a query letter when would the editor/agent expect to have the proposal sent to them? Also, if they would then like to read the manuscript, is there a standard length of time it should be submitted?

Thank you!

aka eraser
02-26-2005, 07:39 PM
I sent my query and proposal together as a single package. I don't really know if that's the norm but I believe it is. If they're interested, and the ms is written, they'll want to see it ASAP. They may request three sample chapters before a full ms.

02-26-2005, 07:51 PM
Hi determined2finish (love the handle!)

Along with what Frank said: If you sent the query separately (and some publishers prefer it this way) they'll probably also want a detailed table of contents, some marketing info, and maybe some other specialized stuff they'll tell you to prepare when you send the proposal package. They should give you a timeline for the material. If they don't mention it, make sure you ask. Usually if a query is of interest, they'll want the proposal package right away so they can evaluate it and make their decision.

This is just my personal experience, you understand, and may or may not apply to your situation. Best wishes. :)

02-26-2005, 08:36 PM
Thanks for your advice. I have been reading a book on query letters and it said to not send the proposal with the query, but it sounds like that isn't always the case. Glad I asked! :)

aka eraser
02-26-2005, 10:07 PM
The #1 rule is: Always follow the guidelines of the pub/agent you're targetting. If they want query w/o proposal - then that's what they should get. There's no one-size-fits-all method of submission.

Dang it.


02-27-2005, 04:18 AM
Ditto the dang it. Things would be so much easier with a one-size-fits-all method of submission! :ROFL:

02-27-2005, 07:27 AM
Ditto, ditto the dang it! I had to prepare three different huge partials to fit each individual agent--then I expect an agent (who lands me) to give me yet another format for giving them multiple huge partials so they can multiple submit to their favorite target pubs! No generic formula there because I studied each agent's website very carefully, and wish I hadn't, because they all want something a little different. Damn them.

Now, I'm a query monster so I do know this one: If you get an agent or publisher "yes" response, to send in your partial, at least be into your second chapter so you'll have something to send in. If they want three chapters, then go hells bells and knock another one out and send it as soon as you can. I have found that you can send in a partial even 1-2 months after a query--and in that case, here's a little secret; mark in felt pen on the outside of your big submission envelope REQUESTED MATERIAL--that lets em' know you've already passed the query part.

Keep in mind that an agent or publisher isn't sitting there drumming their fingers on their desk waiting for your partial because they gave you an okay on your query. They're off and tearing through new submissions and have forgotten about you in a week's time--sorry, that's the reality of it. That's been my personal observation of the business.

Also, check Nomad, our resident editor for her pro opinion on this question. She just might have the all powerful answer to this one, but it is still so variable and relative.


02-27-2005, 08:45 AM
Hey, thanks for all the great info! I have been reading a book by Elizabeth Lyon called "Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write" and she gives great detail about what to include in the proposal. Now it seems that it could be more information than the editor/agent wants. Is it possible to send in too much information in your proposal (ie. promotion ideas, marketing, etc.)? Also, in the competition section do you have to actually buy these books to analyze or can you get enough info on Amazon to get the main ideas (via reviews, excerpts, table of contents, etc.)?

Can you tell I like to ask a lot of questions??? LOL :)

02-27-2005, 09:19 AM
As far as marketing and competing titles--have at it and do a good job here. Agents and publishers appreciate good research that involves your book placement and who the potential audience is. As a matter of fact, authors who are great marketers are prefered and welcomed more often. Our own Jenna is a prime example of why business savy is becoming more important in the writing craft, since there is so much competition out there.

Yes, go to Amazon and finds books that are similar to yours and whose authors have credentials similar to yours. Note any best-sellers in this area too, so you can explain the popularity of your subject material. Find businesses, agencies, groups, organizations and other affiliations that might want to purchase your title and why. Why is your book different than competing titles--do you have a new slant on an old/new topic, etc.


03-01-2005, 12:19 AM
I have three nonfiction books, two are out, one will be officially released tomorrow, March 1, 2005.

When I was hunting for an agent, I sent a one page query letter that described the concept of the book, who the market was for the book and my writing credits. No proposal.

However the proposal was completed before I even put the agent list together. If an agent requests the proposal you want to get it to them as quickly as possible. I did not include a sample chapter in the proposal but instead, gave them the first chapter of one of the previously published books to demonstrate the quality of the writing and the format. If this is your first book, a sample chapter is mandatory. You don't have to write the entire book for nonfiction. The sample chapter doesn't have to be chapter 1, choose the chapter that is easiest for you to write or the one you're the most passionate about.

My proposal included a description of the concept of the book, a list of people who had agreed to be interviewed, a list of competing books and why my book was better, why I was the best author to write this particular book, who the readers would be (the market) and how that market could be reached as well as, what I as the author would do to reach that market, and a brief bio including writing credits. Additionally there was a list of chapters with a paragraph description of each chapter.

After an agent agreed to represent the book, we (I have a co-author) then wrote a sample chapter, or actually in this case it was samples from two different chapters and was about 6000 words.

Hope this helps.