Book Proposals

Is Signing with an Agent Your New Year’s Resolution?

If you are currently without representation, signing with a fantastic agent is an excellent resolution to make!

Here are some ideas to consider as you prepare to approach agents:

  • Visit agency websites. Ask yourself:
    1. Does the agency have a website, such as
    2. Does the website appear professional? Is it easy to navigate?
    3. On the sites that list their clients such as we do, do you see yourself as being part of this family? If you do, excellent! But if no one else seems to be writing anything remotely like what you’re writing, you may consider if this particular agent has the right set of contacts for you.
  • Read and comment on agency blog posts. The fact that you’re reading this blog, even if you don’t leave a comment, means the world to us. If you read us regularly, please be sure to subscribe to the blog. We all work hard to bring you worthwhile reading every weekday; and when you leave comments, we know we aren’t shouting into an echo chamber. That’s not to say that you must struggle to think of something to say each day. But if a point occurs to you, please join us.
    1. Conversations make this blog more fun and informative for us and your fellow readers.
    2. Your name becomes familiar to the agent. So do your viewpoint and personality. All of this is beneficial when you are thinking of working with an agent.
    3. You become part of a community. I can see a fan base developing for some of our commenters. Many’s the time when my blog commenters have encouraged one another in their writing.
  • Ask your writer friends about their agents. Sometimes they may offer to refer you. If not, you can still query wonderful agents on your own.
  • Tend to your website.
    1. If you don’t have a website, please make haste to put one up as soon as you can. We don’t sign authors based on whether or not they have a website, but agents and editors do visit author websites.
    2. Keep your website updated. If you stopped blogging in 2018, remove the dates and start blogging again.
    3. Make sure your website is focused on your topic, especially if you are writing nonfiction. If you’re pitching a book on parenting, it doesn’t make sense for your website to focus on your car-maintenance business. If you do have a side business, we recommend keeping that separate from your author website.
  • Polish your proposal. Make sure your proposal is the best it can be before submitting to an agent. Be sure to include past books, even those with low sales numbers or those on other topics. We need to know your entire publishing history.
  • Have terrific photos of yourself available. Make sure you have high-resolution copies available, and a copyright release from the photographer. Pleasing headshots are useful for:
    1. Social-media avatars
    2. Your website
    3. Your proposal
    4. Flyers advertising your book signings
    5. Book covers
  • A manuscript. Editors and agents prefer a complete document over an incomplete work, particularly with fiction.

Enjoy the journey!

Your turn:

What are you looking for in an agent?

What tips can you offer for finding the right agent?



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Answers to Recent Questions from Clients

In the course of a normal work week—if any of my work weeks can be called “normal”—I get asked a question or two. Or fifty. And, while there are no stupid questions, or so I was told by my second-grade teacher, Mrs. Hoffmann, some questions prompt more illuminating answers than …

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Who’s Your Book For?

A critical part of writing a good book—and a good pitch or proposal for a book—is defining your book’s audience. We all know, of course, that you shouldn’t try to write a book “for everyone.” But your book’s audience can be an elusive target. I suggest three distinct and mutually …

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What Caught My Eye

Last week we talked about the hook, the sound bite, or the ability to “say it in a sentence.” One reader asked for examples so I thought I’d give you a few.

Below are the short pitches of proposals that have caught my eye over the years from debut authors. Please realize that the sound bite is only one of many factors that goes into a great proposal. Ultimately it is the execution of the concept that makes for a great book. For example, The Help by Kathryn Stockett would not have succeeded as a word-of-mouth bestseller if the writing did not support the story. (No, we did not represent that title, I’m only trying to make a point. :-))

Your challenge will be to see if you can identify which books these sound bites are pitching. Each one has been published. One is obviously non-fiction, the other two are novels. The answers to each of these will be provided later this week in the comments section. along with a link to the title so you can see it in its final form.

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Write Like Paul

Somerset Maugham wrote, “There is an impression abroad that everyone has it in him to write one book; but if by this is implied a good book the impression is false” (The Summing Up). Far be it from me to add to Maugham’s words, but I’m going to. So I …

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Say It in a Sentence

Can you present your book idea in one sentence?

Can you present that idea in such a way that the reader is compelled to buy your book?

What motivates someone to spend money on a book? It is the promise that there is something of benefit to me, the reader.

Books are generally purchased for one of three reasons:

Entertainment Information Inspiration

If your book idea can make me want to read it, whether it is for entertainment, information, or inspiration, then you are well on your way to making a sale.

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Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

“Where do you get your ideas?” This question was reportedly posed to Stephen King at a writers conference in New England. His answer may seem harsh, but it’s illuminating: “If you have to ask, don’t become a writer.” Most working writers have little trouble coming up with ideas. In fact, …

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