General question about queries

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CraftyCreations
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General question about queries

Post by CraftyCreations » August 8th, 2010, 7:46 pm

I've read in many threads that you add X Book is Y-Words. The ms is available at your request. I understand that.

If a book requires a proposal, is it okay to add that the proposal is available at request or proposal and ms?

Thanks,
Candy
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Quill
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Re: General question about queries

Post by Quill » August 8th, 2010, 8:03 pm

CraftyCreations wrote:I've read in many threads that you add X Book is Y-Words. The ms is available at your request. I understand that.

If a book requires a proposal, is it okay to add that the proposal is available at request or proposal and ms?
If a book requires a proposal, then yes, your pitch is to get the agent to ask for the proposal. Not the manuscript. So have the proposal complete and ready to send.

It is not a good idea to mention the manuscript, from what I know, because (for non-fiction):

a) the proposal is what sells the project

b) the proposal may be requested to be altered by the agent or acquisitions editor(sometimes drastically), causing the manuscript to require overhaul. It is more efficient to write to an approved proposal for a contracted project.

If I am wrong about any of this you may hit me with a wet noodle.

CraftyCreations
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Re: General question about queries

Post by CraftyCreations » August 8th, 2010, 8:30 pm

Thanks for the help. I appreciate it.

Candy
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cheekychook
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Re: General question about queries

Post by cheekychook » August 8th, 2010, 9:54 pm

I came across a list of "proposal guidelines" today while looking at submission guidelines for a literary agency---I clicked on it because I remembered seeing this question. According to those guidelines along with your overview, bio, target audience, platform, competing title and outline,you should submit (or at least be ready to submit) "Introduction and Sample Chapters – These are fully written, and as near final draft quality as possible. This is a sample of the way the writing of your book will actually appear. Sending loose notes or a first draft is like shooting yourself in the foot. This should be representative of your best work, both in writing quality and content." I know nothing about non-fiction proposals, I literally stumbled across this minutes after I'd read your question. I have no idea if this agency's guidelines are indicative of what other agencies want to see or not.
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Quill
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Re: General question about queries

Post by Quill » August 8th, 2010, 10:06 pm

So far as books about writing proposals this one is probably considered the bible of the bunch. Written by Herman and Levine, literary agents, it described the entire daunting gamut of sections a winning proposal must contain.

I followed it when I was proposing a project of my own years ago. Well, actually, I couldn't stomach following it, so the project floundered.

CraftyCreations
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Re: General question about queries

Post by CraftyCreations » August 8th, 2010, 10:44 pm

Thanks for the advice. I'll get that book as well. Someone recommended that I get "How to Write a Book Proposal" by Michael Larsen which I did. It's been a great help BUT I think it's mainly for "How To" style books as I am having a heck of a time trying to follow his instructions. But then again, EVERYTHING I've tried to follow, just doesn't seem to help with memoirs. If I were writing about putting computers together, which ipod is better, or something along those lines, then I wouldn't have any trouble! His book is great for doing proposals but I'm beginning to think that memoirs are the proverbial "red-headed step-child!"

I've finished my Overview - I'm still moving things around on it and getting it to where I actually like it. Right now it's great for putting people to sleep! Not a good thing! ;) According to Larsen's book, the average overview is about 10 to 15 pages. I've barely got a page and half. But I think it's because I'm writing a memoir. He also said that the average proposal was close to 70 pages. I'll be lucky to get 10!

My ms is finished, I'm just tightening things up. I like my query, I'm just too chicken to really send it out. I've gotten a few rejections, so I'm just nervous. My ms, I guess, is a touchy subject. But when I get an agent (I refuse to say if) and this book sells, I'm seriously considering writing another book on how to do a proposal for memoirs.

I know that if I were to query Mr. Larsen, then I would need to read his book because he says that if you haven't read it - don't query! :) Can't tell if he wants clients or just to get people to buy his books. If I do query him, I'm definitely mentioning that I read his book.

b) the proposal may be requested to be altered by the agent or acquisitions editor(sometimes drastically), causing the manuscript to require overhaul. It is more efficient to write to an approved proposal for a contracted project.

Would this include memoir style books. I'm thinking that only "how to" and such would change and require a different manuscript. I'm probably wrong because I am way to new to this. It also seems that even though certain agents handle memoirs, they give no clue on what they want. I just know I have a long up-hill climb.

I came across a list of "proposal guidelines" today while looking at submission guidelines for a literary agency

Which agency did you happen to look at? I'm always looking for guidelines and help in doing this right.

Thanks again for all the help,
Candy
I can spell - my keyboard can't.

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Bryan Russell/Ink
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Re: General question about queries

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » August 8th, 2010, 11:26 pm

Halt the presses!

If you're pitching a memoir, it's the one kind of non-fiction you treat the same as a novel. You don't need a proposal. You need a finished, polished memoir (unless you have celebrity power), which you can then query in the same format as you would a novel. One page query, plus possible attached pages and synopsis, as required. Much as with a novel, a memoir is all about the story and the writing (unless, you know, you have that celebrity power).

Doesn't that make things easier?
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CraftyCreations
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Re: General question about queries

Post by CraftyCreations » August 8th, 2010, 11:36 pm

Thanks. But unfortunately it just muddies the water for me.

I WISH I had celebrity status, but that's only in my mind! :D

I've read a few - and I stress few - agents websites that say they want a proposal. Some don't. Maybe it's an agent thing? > insert curious look <

Sometimes I think that it would be better to have it and not need it as need it and have to do one within a few days. I've been doing the proposal for almost 2 months now and hopefully by the end of the month, I'll be happy with what I have. (Grandkids will be back in school soon and I can work better.)

Thanks again,
Candy
I can spell - my keyboard can't.

elfspirit
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Re: General question about queries

Post by elfspirit » August 9th, 2010, 8:56 pm

I wanted to second Bryan on the general approach to memoirs. The submission process is the same as for fiction. The only difference is that, lacking the celebrity creds, you have to make a very strong case about why your memoir stands out in a pretty crowded playing field.

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Re: General question about queries

Post by CraftyCreations » August 10th, 2010, 6:07 pm

I wanted to second Bryan on the general approach to memoirs. The submission process is the same as for fiction. The only difference is that, lacking the celebrity creds, you have to make a very strong case about why your memoir stands out in a pretty crowded playing field.

That's a fact! ;) Right now I've only found 5 books (two of which are memoirs) that deal with my subject! I find this whole business strange and I am trying SO hard to understand it. Just when I think I understand something, something else comes along and pulls the rug out from underneath me. I have hope - I will eventually get the hang of it.

Thanks again for the help,
Candy
I can spell - my keyboard can't.

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