How to Prepare a Book Submission for Literary Agents – Part 3

Part 3 – Getting the Material Ready

See how to build your shortlist of agents in part 1

See how to list the contents you will need in part 2

There is no consensus about anything, I’ve researched the details on how to format manuscripts, how to write book proposals, how to write query letter or a bio, etc. But in the end, there are just many different suggestions. You must do your own research and choose what resonates with you.

In the end if you make any decision and go with it, it is better than leaving your book in a drawer, virtual or real.

The important part is that you will need to research step by step, read on how to write each piece, how long it should be and decide on the voice and tone.

 

Query Letter

There are many articles about how to write a good query letter but I have here a few things that I think all query letters should include:

  • In the subject, include the word “query”, the name of your project, and who it is in attention to (if you are sending to a generic email address).
  • A bit about you, including where you are from or based at, whichever is relevant.
  • How many words your manuscript has.
  • The number of agents you are submitting in total.
  • Note if the manuscript has been self-published before and how did it go.
  • Make it adaptable as a submission letter if the agent wants to see a submission in the first instance.
  • Make sure you address it to the right person and add something in the letter to make it personal for them.
  • Add at least one paragraph for the specific agent mentioning something that either they have represented or their agency represents that is relevant to your project.

 

Other Material

  • Short overview
  • Synopsis
  • Complete Synopsis

Prepare a few different sizes of summaries, I would recommend a one-page overview; one three-page synopsis, and a complete synopsis of about 5-7 pages. You will probably need them all.

  • Format the full manuscript
  • Save it in the different sample sizes requested (3 pages, 3 chapters, 50 pages, 30 consecutive pages, etc.)
  • Prepare a full Book Proposal including:
    • Author Bio
    • Competition
    • Market (WHO will read the book)
    • Promotion (HOW readers will learn about the book)

Put all the material together in an organised way and make sure you have it edited and proofread.

I use online freelancers to proofread and edit my material because it is what I can afford for now.

 

This is my checklist for the reviewing process:

  • Prepare all material in a MS Word document
  • Include an updated table of contents
  • Write detailed add for freelancer online community
  • Post the advert
  • Shortlist the freelancers
  • Chat with favourite freelancer and ask a few questions (it’s a good way to see how they actually write)
  • Make a choice / Engage the freelancer and send material
  • Once the material is back, go over track changes, change by change (never, ever click accept all)
  • Format the final material into the pieces you need (for attachment, in pdf or word; or to add to body of email)
  • EXCITING TIME: Ready to submit!

Only then you are really ready for submission. Reserve quality time, when you are not too tired, to make the submissions. The attention to detail —following each agents rules and double checking nothing has changed since you noted them — is essential to your success.

Good Luck!

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How to Prepare a Book Submission for Literary Agents – Part 2

Part 2 – Listing the Content you Will Need to Prepare

Once you have your shortlist of agents (see how to build your list in part 1) you would like to submit to, you must create a list of what they ask for in the first and second instances.

First Instance – Query Letter

Most agents do not accept submissions, they accept queries. They state in large bold letters WE DO NOT ACCEPT UNSOLICITED MATERIAL, or something of the kind.

But even these, sometimes, accept queries. This means they allow you to ask them if they want you to send them your material. I know, it feels like a begging process where they have all the strength and you have none, but don’t get discouraged, it is what it is and it is important to follow their rules to give you a chance to get through.

As you have seen in Part 1, I am willing, with boundaries, I won’t send my work to aggressive and grudging people, for example. But for the rest, my project deserves the best of me and I am happy to do what is necessary to get it out there. That means queries.

Each agent states what they want in their queries or with their queries. Sometimes they only want the Query Letter, sometimes they ask for a short summary or a few chapters of your book. Make a list of everything all of your agents want from you.

Second instance – Book Submission

From my research I have realised that if the agent likes your query letter and wants to see more, they want it straight away and that is not a simple matter.

Some of the agents will tell you what you should have ready if they want to see your book submission, it can be the full manuscript or part of the manuscript, it usually includes an author bio but they might ask for other book-related aspects.

Again, make a detailed list of what they might ask following. It is important to note that agents and agencies may have different demands if your project is fiction or non-fiction, screenplay or illustrated book. Make sure you note the right demands for your type of material.

Create two lists:

1) List by Agency

Agent Name

Agency

Country

  • Note if they want to receive a query or a direct submission

Query Letter

  • Email address or form-on-website address
  • Specificities about the subject line (yes, they are this detailed)
  • Note if the email is for a specific person/agent, if not, you need to add the agent name in the Subject Line
  • Any specificity of what the letter should contain
    • (e.g. a paragraph about the writer)
  • Specific demands that you fulfil
    • (e.g. that you are Australian for an agent that only represents Australian writers)
  • If they want or refuse attachments and want you to put everything in the body of the email

Submission

  • What you should have ready for the next stage, if they want to see a full submission

 

2) List by Material Needed

Separate what you need to have ready for the first and second instances. List everything all the agents are looking for and get to work.

 

See below an example of what my lists looked like.

Continue reading How to Prepare a Book Submission for Literary Agents – Part 2