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Favored_Dahl
03-08-2008, 06:47 AM
I'm hoping someone could explain something to me. I have an idea for a parenting book and I have a lot of notes (pages and pages of information) on the subject. It is not organized and I am in the process of putting it into an organized format. At what point should I start querying publishers about my book idea? Do I do it after I have a rough draft or can I do it now in the idea stages? I ask this because I think it would be so much easier if I had a publisher that was interested in it and then perhaps could offer some insight on the best way to organize the book.

Any help would be appreciated (I am only familiar somewhat with the children's market).

Thanks

TheWritingGuy
03-08-2008, 07:06 AM
Non-fiction books are sold based on the book proposal. You should definitely have the book proposal written before you query. Most of what I have read says that it is better if you DO NOT write the book before you get a contract, but I've also seen agents who said that they would like to have the book written before they sell it to a publisher. The publisher wants to know how the book is going to be organized and the book proposal will tell them. It's my understanding that the finished product from the author is often very different than the way it was shaping up in the book proposal.

Favored_Dahl
03-08-2008, 07:29 AM
I just noticed the sticky at the top of the page with all that wealth of information. :o Oops? hehe

I posted my questions in that thread.

Thanks for replying.

Karpathos
03-08-2008, 04:56 PM
I'd say start querying publishers. For nonfiction, they don't expect your manuscript to be complete at the outset. Anyway, they'll be directing you along the way. So don't get your heart on specific chapters, or even a book title.

Favored_Dahl
03-08-2008, 07:15 PM
I actually am very excited that I can start the process of writing up a book proposal. I am the type of person that thrives off of an intended goal. Having someone on board, directing me along the way and just knowing that I have a definite end result to look forward to can serve as a much needed incentive to get up and work on one's book.

Ok, so now I must start the wonderful process of writing a book proposal. I am sure that you will be seeing my screenname pop up in here a bit more often in the coming months...hehe

KikiteNeko
03-08-2008, 08:52 PM
Take this with a grain of salt, since I have done zero research on nonfiction.. But go to the websites of agents who do nonfiction, and there are usually some nonfiction guidelines.. One submission guideline I saw wanted a sample index proposal. I would go to querytracker.net, and select "nonfiction." It'll give you a list of all agents taking nonfiction, and you can access their websites from there.

Favored_Dahl
03-09-2008, 03:00 AM
I didn't think about getting an agent. Is that really necessary? Currently, writing is not my main source of income (I hope to change this eventually). My point is that I don't have any pressing needs to get my book picked up asap.

I appreciate any and all advice given. It at least gives me a basis of where to go and what to research regarding getting published.

kimmer
03-09-2008, 09:23 AM
For nonfiction books, a proposal and two chapters is the standard. That way, when you submit a one-page query, and the publisher or agent requests your work, you have it ready to go. In all of my research, most nonfiction agents or publishers will request a proposal and two sample chapters, if they are interested in reviewing your work.

scope
04-05-2008, 02:44 AM
I hope this doesn't sound too harsh.

You say that you have some familiarity with the publishing business (children's books). That being said, you know the incredible importance of a query letter or proposal. Why in the world would you even consider sending anything to a publisher that represents nothing more than an "idea." Publishers (editors) don't buy ideas and have no interest, and certainly no time, to read about them (unless they come from an author they have published successfully before).

The success of an idea and subsequently a manuscript and book begins with the submission of a dynamite query and/or proposal. I don't think there are any short-cuts. Do you idea justice by doing the right thing.

Good luck.

gettingby
04-05-2008, 03:09 AM
A proposal is nothing more than an idea on paper. Same with a query. If you have access to pitch your idea to an editor, I think it is a good thing. There are always shortcuts just not all of us get to take them.

scope
04-05-2008, 05:23 AM
Sorry, a proposal is about 20 pages of information not contained in a query letter - a bunch of info that has no place in a query letter. And a query letter is written in a manner which attempts to briefly discuss the books idea, genre, word count, why it's needed, why it's better than what's on the market, who will buy it, who you are and what you have done, etc. --- all limited to a single page, double spaced (if one absolutely, positively must -- a page and a half -- not the best of ideas).

Favored_Dahl
04-09-2008, 12:35 AM
I hope this doesn't sound too harsh.

You say that you have some familiarity with the publishing business (children's books). That being said, you know the incredible importance of a query letter or proposal. Why in the world would you even consider sending anything to a publisher that represents nothing more than an "idea." Publishers (editors) don't buy ideas and have no interest, and certainly no time, to read about them (unless they come from an author they have published successfully before).

The success of an idea and subsequently a manuscript and book begins with the submission of a dynamite query and/or proposal. I don't think there are any short-cuts. Do you idea justice by doing the right thing.

Good luck.

I'm confused by what you are stating here. I currently have my first draft book proposal completed that is roughly 20 or so pages long. I'm beginning the query letter and I am looking into possibly going the agent route to getting published. Could you point out what I may be doing that goes against standard protocol? I don't understand what you mean by how I "could even consider sending...nothing more than an 'idea'." Could you clarify? I am not trying to find any short-cuts. I'm trying to do the right thing, that's why I joined this forum to get advice from btdt published writers.

Thanks for the well wishes, btw.

Favored_Dahl
04-09-2008, 12:51 AM
Can anyone recommend a good agent who deals with parenting books and who is willing to deal with an unpublished writer?

I did a search on querytracker.net and it came up with over 100 agents and I wouldn't mind a recommendation or two.

Stijn Hommes
04-09-2008, 02:15 AM
Yes, non-fiction is usually sold on the proposal/pitch, but I'd finish the book before querying anyway for several reasons. (Based on your question, I'm assuming you haven't written a non-fiction book before.)
1. It's easier to write a proposal when you know what the finished book is like (and easier to spot errors in the structure of the ms)
2. You don't want to be given a deadline you can't meet. It's easier to revise an existing manuscript than write one from scratch. If you haven't written one before, you definitely want to have it finished before you query so you know you won't get in trouble down the road.

gettingby
04-09-2008, 04:13 AM
I have to disagree with Stijn Hommes. I would not finish the book before getting a deal. The outline in your proposal does not have to be set in stone. Also, the publisher may want the book, but want you to change things around. Keep querying and good luck.

scope
04-09-2008, 05:07 AM
I understand your confusion, and perhaps I should have made myself clearer.

I think it's unrealistic to expect an agent or editor to read a query letter or proposal that contains only an idea about a book without all the other info required in such type of correspondence. I think it's even more unrealistic to expect them to respond stating they are interested and offering insight. This just isn't how it works - although it might if you were a successful, well known author they have handled before.

I recommend you bear in mind the old "elevator rule" - you get on an elevator going up 10 flights with an editor. The amount of time you have to tell the editor about your manuscript and get him or her to reach a positive conclusion starts when the elevator doors close on the lobby floor and reopen on the 10th floor. Bear in mind you will be lucky if your query letter gets that much time from an agent or editor. That is how good your query letter has to be, and that's why everyone must spend so much time creating a smashing query letter.


The flesh of your manuscript (book to be), why it deserves to be considered, the word count, the genre, the marketplace, about you, hook lines to attract the agent or editor, and more are all a part of your query letter; and even more information has to be put into a proposal. If you think you can present all of this in a query letter with only an outline than I say go ahead. However, from what you said in your initial post I get the sense that you might be better off first completing your manuscript. I agree with Stijn Hommes - I suggest you first complete your manuscript.

gdaniel
04-09-2008, 05:21 AM
Not only do you need a great proposal and sample chapters, but if you don't have either the credentials or the platform for writing a parenting book, you're going to have a difficult time finding an agent or a publisher. Not trying to burst your bubble, but platform is incredibly important in nonfiction publishing, and parenting books are perhaps one of the more difficult areas to publish into without the credentials/platform.

Favored_Dahl
04-09-2008, 06:02 AM
scope, I already have about 80 pages of a rough draft for my manuscript typed (I suppose "notes" was a poor choice of expressing this fact). I don't understand how you gathered the implication that I just had an idea tossing around in my mind especially in light of the fact that I did not provide any detail about my situation. I have been researching my topic for the last 3 years and it is in direct relation to my Master's Degree.

Thank you for replying as I always honor those who utilize their energy in responding to me. However, your response does not apply to me.

Favored_Dahl
04-09-2008, 06:09 AM
gdaniel, thank you for your reply. I am aware of the issues you bring to light. I would never have considered writing this book if I didn't feel confident in my credentials/platform.

I simply was looking for information on how to get my book out there in the world. That was my sole purpose for joining this forum.

I believe that my I have gotten most of the answers I was looking for from JennaGlatzer in her sticky thread on top. Thank you again for replying! :)

scope
04-09-2008, 07:43 AM
I'm hoping someone could explain something to me. I have an idea for a parenting book and I have a lot of notes (pages and pages of information) on the subject. It is not organized and I am in the process of putting it into an organized format. At what point should I start querying publishers about my book idea? Do I do it after I have a rough draft or can I do it now in the idea stages? I ask this because I think it would be so much easier if I had a publisher that was interested in it and then perhaps could offer some insight on the best way to organize the book.

Any help would be appreciated (I am only familiar somewhat with the children's market).

Thanks

Apparently I'm not interpreting your words correctly. When in your original post you said that you have an idea for a parenting book and a lot of unorganized notes on the subject which you are in the process of putting into an organized format, it says to me, perhaps incorrectly, that you have a concept, a conception, a thought(s), a notion, an image of something you know - something that requires additional thought and development, as you indicate.

So, when you ask "at what point should I start querying publishers about my idea," I answered accordingly.

You ask whether to query in the rough draft stage or the idea stage. I answered accordingly.

Favored_Dahl
04-09-2008, 07:22 PM
Ok, thanks for your honest appraisal. I agree, my initial post was not worded as accurately to my situation as possible. Where I was when I made this initial post was beyond a conception stage. However, in regards to the business model of the industry, I was a bit sketchy in that regard. I work fast when I get determined for something and I happened to have had the time to dedicate to organizing my book proposal full time, which I did. Your reply was appreciated and very thorough for the situation that you assumed I was facing myself.

To reiterate, you believe people should not query until their book proposal is revised completely and a rough draft of a manuscript is completed?

scope, I hope that you are not feeling irritated as I truly do honor the energy you are offering me in responding to my questions.

scope
04-09-2008, 11:29 PM
I am in no way irritated and in fact I am honored that you ask for my feedback.

As writers -- indeed, as human being who go through life -- we have our individual beliefs which in most cases are based on our experiences. Many believe that it's okay to query without a "final" proposal in hand. They say this is particularly true when the subject is nonfiction. I disagree, unless, as I already mentioned, the writer is a "household name" or has worked with the editor or agent before.

As writers we work long and hard developing an idea for a work, researching, getting our story (or at least part of it) down on paper, creating some type of outline, and a whole
lot more -- be it nonfiction or fiction. At some point we have to then compose two incredibly important pieces if we hope to sell our work - a query letter and a proposal.

As I am sure you know, the query letter should be no more than one page, double spaced. It has to be finely crafted and contain a whole lot of info presented in a fashion that we hope will make the editor/agent request a proposal and a sample chapter or two.

The proposal runs about 20 pages (plus sample chapter(s)) and obviously contains far more info than the query letter. If an editor/agent like the writer's proposal it is the proposal that he or she will present to all department heads at an editorial meeting for a yes or no.

As difficult as it is to create a dynamite query letter, it's even more difficult and painstaking to put together a proposal. I believe, based on my experience with nonfiction works, that any query letter I write becomes all the better if I first create a proposal. The proposal says it all (so to speak) and it forces me to consider EVERYTHING and put it all in far greater detail and context. When it's done I find it far easier to create a query letter. The other luxury doing same offers me is that after mailing off my query I can review and inevitably rewrite my proposal so if and when I am asked for it I can mmediately send it off - I don't have another giant hoop to jump through.

Anyway, that's how I do it.

Favored_Dahl
04-10-2008, 02:04 AM
Ah, ok. I think I am finally 'vibing' at your wavelength ;)

You make absolute sense. So, you are saying that I should focus on the completion (including revision) of my proposal before I even consider writing my query letter, is that right?

This is a really tough process for a beginner. How did you stay motivated during your earlier stages of having to sell yourself to an agent/editor?

scope
04-10-2008, 03:51 AM
I know most writers of nonfiction do not write a complete proposal before putting together and sending out queries. And agreed, it's certainly more daunting for a beginner to do so. Nevertheless, I think fleshing out and putting in writing all that's required in a proposal gives the writer a complete picture of his or her book (complete being the key word) - not a partial view of what's to be. Relatively speaking, from any aspect, it becomes easier to write a really good query letter when you have put everything in writing and have the "complete package" clearly in mind. In a very real sense you are working backwards when writing your query. And as far as I'm concerned that's a really good thing. Another asset of proposal before query is such a practice puts a halt to sending out queries before one is really ready to do so.

Of course you have to re-read and edit your proposal to some degree, a degree that satisfies you. However, you can hold off doing a thorough re-write after you compose and send out your query.

To answer your question, I always did it this way, no matter what others said or what I read in reference books. It seemed more logical to me, and I wanted to be able to answer questions at length and with logic which might arise re the books rationale, marketing, me, the competition, etc.

Yes, doing it my way will delay the submission of your query by about six months, but if you find the end result satisfying and it makes you more confident, it's time well spent. And remember, if you are to sell your work you'll have to produce a proposal at some point anyway. Doing it my way gives you a very long leg-up.

brc23
04-21-2008, 06:01 AM
I didn't want to start another thread since my question is kinda related to this one....

If a publishers guidelines start out talking about the proposal with outlines and sample chapters do you still query (one page) them first? Or jump right in to the proposal?

scope
04-21-2008, 06:36 PM
I didn't want to start another thread since my question is kinda related to this one....

If a publishers guidelines start out talking about the proposal with outlines and sample chapters do you still query (one page) them first? Or jump right in to the proposal?

If by talking you mean that a publisher is stating in their submission guidelines that they want a proposal with outlines and sample chapters, that's what you send them. They haven't expressed a desire to receive a query letter.

brc23
04-21-2008, 08:06 PM
Thanks...That's what I thought...I was just getting my query letter all pretty and there's a few who want a proposal. Dang it. Sooo I have ohhh so much more work to do.

I also read recently to send a photo of yourself with your proposal. I haven't heard that anywhere else. Any thoughts?

Also do you write your author credentials in the first or third person?

That's the trouble with writing...there's so many people saying so many different things you don't know which is right and wrong. I just read, and laughed, that you should send your proposals fed ex cause "it shows you care enough about your work to spend the money". HA! Or (like I read everywhere else) it's annoying and over zealous.

I am starting to see why it is so hard to get it right. I have to be the greenest writer alive! Sigh...

Favored_Dahl
04-21-2008, 11:32 PM
brc, take a look at the sticky on top, it is really helpful! The information presented answered a lot of the questions I had in the beginning.

I haven't had a chance to finish my proposal as I obliged myself to another project, which ends May 2nd. Then I can tackle the remainder of my proposal and start my query letter.

How do first time non fiction writers stay encouraged? I need to learn some ways to hang on to the hope that my book is an asset to the world of parenting.

brc23
04-22-2008, 01:11 AM
brc, take a look at the sticky on top, it is really helpful! The information presented answered a lot of the questions I had in the beginning.

I've read it several times...it's the best information I have found on the web or out of any book...but I still have questions...I just wait and hope they are answered as I go.



How do first time non fiction writers stay encouraged? I need to learn some ways to hang on to the hope that my book is an asset to the world of parenting.

My secret is to just stay young, stupid and naive. :D

Favored_Dahl
04-24-2008, 08:09 AM
LOL....good secret.

gettingby
04-24-2008, 08:41 AM
brc - I wrote my author credentials in both first and third to see what they looked like. I have only sent out my third person version. It just sounded more professional in my mind. However, maybe I will switch it up at some point depending on responses. Another reason I chose the third person version is that it was shorter and right to the point.

You mentioned including a photo. I had not heard about that, but I think it might work in some cases. I am not thinking about it, but I would love to hear what others think. What if the photo is totally related to the story? The only fear is coming off full of yourself, I think.

scope
04-24-2008, 09:08 AM
Unless specifically requested by a publisher or agent when sending your query or proposal, which I have never heard of, what would be the purpose of sending a photo of yourself? If and when the work is bought by a publisher and they want to use your photo for publicity and/or marketing they will let you know.

scope
04-24-2008, 09:17 AM
Favored Dahl,

If your work is complete why not try to set up some local discussion groups re same (or just the subject of your work) with PTA's, library groups, local mags, newspapers, appropriate organizations and associations, and others. Short talk followed be a Q&A. I think you'd get some interesting feedback and hopefully the positive reinforcement you're looking for. You'd also be establishing an audience for your book once it gets published.

Favored_Dahl
04-24-2008, 08:15 PM
scope, that is a fabulous idea!! I love it and I didn't even consider the local schools and parent newspapers. I think that I should start doing that before I consider mailing out my query letter. I actually haven't been able to begin my revisions as something more pressing came up --- isn't that always the way for aspiring writers...grr

scope
04-24-2008, 11:18 PM
Favored Dahl,

Glad I could help. Wish you the best.

scope
05-11-2008, 01:40 AM
Send the publisher exactly what they request in their guidelines -- nothing more and nothing less. So, as it pertains to your question, if they ask for a proposal with outlines and sample chapters, that's what you send them. Skip the query.

Favored_Dahl
06-27-2008, 07:24 AM
Well, sad to say this but I had to put it on the backburner as some work projects that help me pay the bills came through and took up all my extra time I was using for my writing projects. I just finished the last of the projects but now I am trying to get some of my completed children's articles submitted to magazines. So, it doesn't look like I will be able to get back to my WIP for my parenting book idea until August sometime. Life can be a brat and get in the way like that sometimes.

scope
06-27-2008, 08:17 AM
Well, sad to say this but I had to put it on the backburner as some work projects that help me pay the bills came through and took up all my extra time I was using for my writing projects. I just finished the last of the projects but now I am trying to get some of my completed children's articles submitted to magazines. So, it doesn't look like I will be able to get back to my WIP for my parenting book idea until August sometime. Life can be a brat and get in the way like that sometimes.

Dahl,

Ain't no biggie and you shouldn't make it so. August-September is just around the corner. In this crazy profession we sometimes have to alter our plans because of real-life demands. It comes with the territory until you become a big time, well know, well compensated author -- and you must believe that you will. Hey, look a it this way. It gives you a 2 month break from the book and when you return to it you'll instantly find many ways to improve it.

tombookpub
06-29-2008, 05:29 AM
It depends on what the agent or publisher requests! As busy as they are, I would think most should or would request query letters only, in the outset.

Favored_Dahl
06-30-2008, 07:33 AM
scope, I like your outlook on life. I have decided your advice has been very good advice in this thread. So, I won't query until I have proposal that is beyond first draft in nature. With my current situation, that is looking to be a long way off. I was really motivated finally for this book that I have been considering for a few years now. Ugh....but I will hope this motivation will act as inertia....once in motion it will stay in motion again.

scope
07-01-2008, 02:49 AM
Dahl, I thank you and sincerely hope everything works out for you. Please let us know how things are going. All the best to you.

tombookpub
07-01-2008, 05:50 AM
scope, I like your outlook on life. I have decided your advice has been very good advice in this thread. So, I won't query until I have proposal that is beyond first draft in nature. With my current situation, that is looking to be a long way off. I was really motivated finally for this book that I have been considering for a few years now. Ugh....but I will hope this motivation will act as inertia....once in motion it will stay in motion again.

- One can literally spend a few months crafting a high-quality proposal.

scope
07-01-2008, 07:56 AM
If it takes less than a few months to craft a high-quality proposal I would be shocked.