As an unagented writer, keep in mind three key points: submit the book proposal to the correct editor, be persistent and realize that rejection is part of the process. Invest in a ‘2006 Writer’s Market’. Spend time reading the specifications associated with each publishing house that you deem to be a good ‘fit’ with your novel. Each publisher will list the type of unsolicited manuscripts they will accept. A specific editor is listed to whom you can send the book proposal. The proposal consists of a cover letter, a sample chapter, a summary, a table of contents and an author bio. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope if you want a response.
Format your cover letter like a standard business letter. The initial sentences must grab the editor’s attention. Consider opening your letter with a poignant scene from your book. Set the scene. Name the character. Describe the conflict. Revise the paragraph until it shows the strength of your writing. Introduce the concept of your novel. Essentially, distill the essence of your novel down to a few sentences. Avoid gimmicks. Use your writing skills to sell your book and yourself as an author. Editors read countless cover letters, make your letter stand out. Mention which genre of fiction your novel has been written in, be it mystery, romance or science fiction. If the manuscript is finished, provide an approximate word count. Specify the target audience of your novel and tell the editor why you’re qualified to write it. View a sample cover letter following this article. Most important, be brief and to the point.
The page count required for the book summary will be cited by the publishing house. Like the sample chapter, a summary is always double-spaced and can range from 2 – 10 pages. Once again, use this opportunity to showcase your strength as a writer. In addition, you will be asked to provide a table of contents. This is a tool to display the structure and organization of your novel. Finally, furnish a brief bio that includes an author photo. Cite the city of your birth, where you reside, your education, experience and qualifications and a couple of interesting personal notes. Create one with desk-top publishing or have a print shop create it. As mentioned, rejection is part of the publishing process. All published writers have a rejection ‘war story’ or two. Focus your energy instead on submitting a polished, professional book proposal that stands out in the pile on the editor’s desk.
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