1. eliza490
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    eliza490 Member

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    Query Letter Advice

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by eliza490, Aug 1, 2009.

    I'm about halfway through a nonfiction political/current events book and I hope to be finished with it by the middle of August. I'm trying to write the query letter, but I'm just not exactly sure what to say to sell my idea. I believe in what I have so far and I'm confident about this project, but I don't know how to convince a publisher to take my work. I really want to contact a publisher as soon as possible about this project. Does anyone have any advice? Has anyone here written a query letter that helped them get published? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    ~Eliza
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    You should completely finish your project before querying. That means finish it, edit it, rewrite it, etc. Only after you have completely finished should you begin querying. Also, are you an expert on what you are writing? I heard nonfiction is very hard to publish without some kind of proof that you are knowledgeable in your field (i.e. a master's degree, PhD).
     
  3. eliza490
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    eliza490 Member

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    I'm not planning on sending the query letter before I complete the book. It's just frustrating that I'm having this much difficulty coming up with ideas for the query letter.
    As far as your second point, no, I don't have a phd or anything. This is mainly a political opinion/social commentary type of book. While I know a lot of people might find a phd impressive, you don't need one to pay attention to what's going on in the world around you and have an opinion about it. For example, a lot of celebrities write memoirs or autobiographies, but look at how many memoirs are out there written by people who don't have their own tv show or fashion line. I may not have a Master's Degree, but I believe in what I'm doing and I am willing to fight for this.
    Thanks for the tips!
    ~Eliza
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Oh, I guess I misunderstood. I thought you were writing what I traditionally think of as nonfiction (someone studies a topic a lot and then writes about it). But it seems like your writing might fall into the category of journalism if I understand correctly. As for the query letter, I don't have any experience in writing nonfiction queries, but a quick google search should be very useful.
     
  5. FrankB
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    FrankB Member

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    Oh boy. If you're only half-way through, and you expect to be finished in a couple of weeks, I don't think much of your chances for wooing a publisher - however spiffy your query might be.

    My own book took four years from starting the first draft to final galley proofs and that's probably fairly typical for a first-time author. If you think you can bang out a publishable nonfic book based on personal opinion in a matter of weeks - without credentials or a platform - you'd better be thinking of self-publishing.
     
  6. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Frank has a point. If you're going to have "finished" it so quickly, then you aren't going to do well with publishing. Even if the initial writing process is that quick, every novel needs at least one rigorous session of editing (lasting months) in order to stand a chance of making it out of the agent/publishing house's slush pile.

    I really don't think query letters are what you should be worrying about when your first draft isn't yet finished.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what you will need is both a good query letter and a proper book proposal... the proposal is a complex melange of things that will take some time to do right...

    i'll be glad to send you tips on how to write either/both of them, if you drop me a line and can help you with them, as well...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  8. eliza490
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    eliza490 Member

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    It's kind of my writing style. This is something I am extremely passionate about, so once I get going it's easy for me to complete this kind of project quickly. And just so you know, I was looking for some tips not negativity. I'm aware of the fact that getting published is not always easy. That doesn't mean I am not prepared to fight for this. That doesn't mean I have no resilience. That doesn't mean I have no patience. That doesn't mean I'm going to give up on following my dream. Just because you take four years to complete a book, Frank, doesn't mean that I do. I understand you're both just trying to point out some of the difficulties involved in getting published but that really doesn't help me. Thanks anyway.
    ~Eliza
     
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  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Finishing a project quickly does not mean that it's publishable or even well written. You have to go through some kind of review process to make sure everything is the best it can be. We weren't trying to be negative or anything of that sort. We're only being realistic. Finish up what you are writing and then worry about the query letter. Besides, even if it does get accepted for publication, it will take about a year for it to hit bookshelves (perhaps even more).
     
  10. eliza490
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    eliza490 Member

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    I didn't feel you were being negative, thirdwind. I will look over my first draft before I send out any query letter. It's just that I like to multi-task. And I don't see what's wrong with at least starting the query letter before my project is complete. I don't have it completely finished, but I have a very clear picture in my mind of what this is going to look like when I'm done with it. I was also disappointed that people were more interested in being 'realistic' than giving good advice. I've read and studied about the publishing process. I wasn't asking about the publishing process, I was asking for advice on writing a query letter. Saying 'you can't do that, you don't have a chance, you're not good enough' doesn't help me. And if I didn't know that it can take a book about a year to hit bookshelves once it's accepted, I wouldn't be so anxious to get this done asap.
    I'm not annoyed at you or anything, thirdwind. It's just that I don't need or want to be lectured on the publishing process. I just asked a simple question and instead I was basically treated like I don't know anything or that I can't do anything. I wanted some advice and I got 'Oh boy....I don't think much of your chances....you'd better be thinking of self-publishing'. I expected better from fellow writers.
    ~Eliza
     
  11. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    The problem is, everyone is telling her things she is aware off. That is why she is not happy with the responses. It's very wrong to assume that a person doesn't know things, which is what is going on here. There is nothing wrong with getting a head start and learning how to do proposals before you finish a book.
     
  12. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    There's nothing wrong with writing a query letter before you finish, but since you are very likely to change things around, it's best to wait till your done so that you don't leave anything out in the query. This is, of course, my approach, but you are definitely entitled to start writing it whenever you want. And just to defend other comments here, we were trying to give good advice. As fellow writers, it would have been irresponsible of us to tell you to write it as fast as you can without carefully revising it. We really just wanted to make sure you knew about querying and publishing, but it looks like you do know a lot about it.

    Anyways, since maia has offered to help you with your query letter, you can take her help. She is the most experienced member on these forums when it comes to writing.
     
  13. eliza490
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    eliza490 Member

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    Thanks, thirdwind. I appreciate that. It was more the wording of certain things that got to me I guess, but it's not a big deal. Have a good weekend!
    ~Eliza
     
  14. ojduffelworth
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    ojduffelworth Contributing Member

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    Yeah, the off putting aspect of this sight is that as soon as someone asks for advice, a barrage of post pop up to say, “Oh but it is so difficult!” ….we all know that….
    The question is, given that it is difficult, what is the best way to go about it…
    If it was not difficult, nobody would be here asking for advice. Isn’t that obvious?

    As to your quire letter, don’t trouble yourself with it for now! It will be grow clearer to you once you have a completed your manuscript. IMHO
     
  15. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Everyone said it's difficult because it is. As for your last sentence, isn't that what everyone else has been saying in this thread? How is that off putting? I'm willing to bet that 99.9% of published writers will agree that a new writer shouldn't even worry about a query letter until after the work is completely finished.
     
  16. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    The stuff you said was good, and you had good intentions, but like I said, you had no valid reason to believe she didn't know these things, and it didn't answer what she wanted help with. And who says you can't adjust a proposal if you make changes to the manuscript?
     
  17. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Well, rei, we get a lot of people here who make these kinds of threads and don't know much about publishing. None of us knew how much she knew about publishing. I think it would have been worse to assume she knew everything and then have to go back and clarify it later. And you could adjust the query letter later, but it would be so much easier to just write it after everything is done. Nothing against eliza, but I don't get why she is so eager to finish it so quickly and get it published right away. It's better to take your time on matters such as these.
     

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