A blog from Tonto Books, featuring musings from the publishing world and some occasional special guest appearances.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

More appropriate approaches to approaching

Well, as it is still summer (just) and we've all got time on our hands, we are no doubt polishing our manuscripts down ready to send to publishers and agents. I know yesterday's post was a tad light-hearted, but I can't stress enough the importance of the correct approach.

Look at the three query letter examples in the Yearbook. I've more or less used their template in the past and I know it works. You only have a few seconds to catch a publisher's eye... don't over do your letter, don't be aggressive. Don't give them the excuse they are looking for to stop reading!

Here's an example of a recent submission:

Hi Tonto Press,

I’ve had four books published so far – (TITLES LISTED). My background is in freelance journalism particularly in lifestyle and women’s mags. For the first ten years of my career I devoted most of my time writing for football magazines like Goal, 90 Minutes, Shoot and Football Monthly.

If this book has piqued your interest I can send you a detailed proposal with chapter breakdowns, along with some sample chapters – (CHAPTER HEADINGS). The final book would be around (NUMBER) words in length.

I look forward to hearing if you want to take a look at (TITLE).



P.S. Why Tonto Press? Are you fans of the Lone Ranger by any chance, or is it you see yourselves as Lone Rangers in the publishing world?

As you can see, this writer got straight to the point, told us what the book is in a nutshell, their publication history, and that they can send samples of the book if we are interested. Nothing more required, although there is a P.S, which tells us a bit more about the writer and their humour which is used within the book. It is a friendly approach and informal because of the nature of the piece.

It worked. We asked to see more.

I'm not saying that this is a new template for you to use. You need to know who you are approaching as well as you know the target audience for your work. The next enquiry letter we received used our names. It showed they found out who they were writing to and they knew what we were looking for by checking the website.

Remember - publishers and agents receive gazillions of letters every week. Be patient. Don't contact them after 5 days and ask if they want to publish your book. If they've taken a good while, a polite nudge is acceptable. Publishers and agents are not just looking for quality/commercial work – they are looking for writers they can work with and who they see themselves working with over time.

Best of luck!


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