Tuesday, February 23, 2010

This and that about E-mail Queries and a little about e-mail proposals - by Joyce Hart

We get probably 15 to 20 or more e-mail queries per day per agent. So that could be 80 or more per day for 400 a week, just for this one agency. I don’t know that I’ve ever read much about how to write a query. I hope the subject is covered at some conferences in workshops or maybe in the Reader’s Digest newsletter. Maybe not, maybe we all just talk about writing a proposal and don’t mention queries.

This is what I need to see in a query – an author bio; the author’s publishing history and a summary. Normally I get only the summary. Unfortunately, good ideas are a dime a dozen. I need to know who the author is, why he/she is qualified to write the book being queried. I automatically reject queries with only the story idea. If you’ve self-published the book I need to know how many copies you’ve sold. If you’ve sold thousands, I’ll be impressed. I’m finding that publishers are more open to looking at a self-published book that have sold a thousand or so copies than e-books. There is some resistance about looking at e-books.

All of our agents like e-mail proposals. However, we want them to be prepared according to the guidelines on our web site. The proposal should include the summary, author bio, publishing history, marketing information and three sample chapters. This needs to be sent as an attachment in MS Word preferably, for me, not as a pdf. file or in the body of the e-mail. Nor do I want to click on a link and go to a web site. When you prepare the proposal according to our guidelines, you’ll be more apt to get it read.

Another point about proposals – this is in our guidelines but I’ll reiterate it here. Please use Times New Roman for your font. We’re not impressed with fancy fonts, because they are hard to read. On each page, be sure to add a header with book title/author name and number the pages. Use the insert feature on Word or whatever word processing program you use. Also use the insert to number pages, do not number them manually. Causes all kinds of problems. Chapters should be double-spaced. These things might seem elementary but they are what I deal with every day. I’m looking for well written, well researched books whether fiction or non-fiction. I’m especially looking for romance, historical and contemporary, and women’s fiction. Women protagonists are best. Comedy is good, light mystery that’s fun; not cozies for CBA though. My personal favorites are mysteries, but apparently not all CBA readers feel that way. I also like books about women’s friendships. If the writing is good I will read any genre in fiction or in non-fiction too.

Thanks for looking at our blog. We hope we’re done with snow in PA. It is piled everywhere, huge piles as tall as buildings. Snow in my front yard is up to my porch floor and that’s pretty high. We’re still canceling meetings because there is no place to park. We’re praying the snow will melt gradually so we don’t have water in basements. I can’t imagine the amount of snow some of you have further east. One author said she had 52 inches of snow. We just had about 36 inches. We’re blessed though; we had electricity, heat and food. I didn’t mind staying home more than usual, I was warm and cozy and I could use my computer and read.

God bless you as you write for his glory. I encourage you to attend writer’s conferences and workshops whenever possible. By the way, I regret I will not be attending the Florida Christian Conference. Diana Flegal will be representing our agency in Florida.

In His service,


Jeanette Levellie said...

Dear Joyce:

When I first began writing, the lady who mentored me told me how to format my header--on a typewriter--what publishers were looking for, etc. I was excited to know how to make my ms. fit the guidelines. It meant a greater possibility of publication for me.

But when I told a friend about all the guidelines, they sneered. "That's too much work, too many boundaries."

That friend, although a great writer, has yet to be published.

I've found that sticking with guidelines helps the Lord open doors. Isn't the Bible a guideline for success? When we say, "Too harsh," we miss out on God's best.

End of my sermon. I hope your snow melts soon!

patriciazell said...

As a high school English teacher (jrs. and srs.), I insist on Times New Roman 12 for all word- processed drafts. My students complain, but my eyes are grateful!