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.
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.
- Short overview
- 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
- 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.