The Query When getting ready to query your work, you have many options and the research can be overwhelming but it's important to follow submission guidelines for each agency. Some agents within their agencies may have additional guidelines and preferences so it's important to do your due diligence prior to querying. If you're interested in querying me, you can find our agency's submission guidelines here.
Your query letter is your "cover letter" for your work and sometimes the only opportunity you have to make a good impression. Be professional, courteous and succinct. Jane Friedman has a great post on how to write a solid query letter here.
The Synopsis No one really likes to summarize their work and sometimes this can seem a more daunting task than writing the book but it is a necessary evil. Make sure your synopsis covers the major plot points, but don't get sidetracked by all your wonderful subplots. We'll learn about those in the manuscript. Make sure your synopsis gives a feel for who your characters are and what their individual arcs are. Jane Friedman offers some excellent advice. Please take a look if you're having difficulty coming up with just the right words. How to Write a Novel Synopsis
The Comp Titles Not every agent likes to see comp titles in their queries, but I do. I like to know which themes in your work are going to resonate with readers of other titles in your market. Eric Smith gives a nice take on how to figure out what to comp. How to Find Comps
The Nonfiction Proposal When querying nonfiction work, in addition to the query, agents are looking for a complete proposal on the work. Here's what that looks like:
Bio, including credentials. Why are you qualified to write on this particular subject, what skills, history, etc... do you bring to the table?
Query Letter. Much like fiction, I need a query to give me a brief idea of what the book is about and why it's important. As always Jane Friedman offers great advice. How to Write a Nonfiction Query Letter
Purpose and Need. This can be anywhere from a couple of paragraphs to a whole page describing the intention of the project and what gap in the market it is serving. Who needs to read this and why?
Synopsis of the Work. This needs to tell me exactly what the project is about and should be between one and three pages.
Chapter Outline. I like annotated outlines where the premise of each chapter is given in a paragraph or two.
Target Audience. This should be a few paragraphs to a page on who the likely audience is for this book. Be as specific as possible. Are there people who watch certain shows or read certain books? Think about any crossover appeal your project has and who your secondary audience might be.
Several Current Comps. I like to see three to five good comps, but no more than ten. Write a paragraph or so for each book explaining why they are similar to your project and what space your project fills in that is not covered by the comp.
Author Platform. So important for nonfiction! I want to know your social media outreach (including if you have followers with their own large followings who are excited about your project); are you on any boards in related fields where you might sell your project; have you won any related awards; do you have any secondary interests that might crossover. Give me as much as you can!
Potential Endorses. You've told me all about you, now who else are you going to reach out to that will endorse and promote the book? Are you best friends with a celebrity? Do you hang out in a group chat with an internet influencer who said that they're dying to see this project on the shelves? Do you play pool with a great book reviewer? We want to know all of it.
One-Three Sample Chapters. These need to be the first chapters of the project, and they should really showcase your writing. I want compelling, beautiful writing that hooks me from page one!