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Nonfiction Queries and Proposals


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#21 jrmcclarren

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 08:41 PM

Kellyann,
It sounds like you are on the right track. The guidance I have always understood is that you definitely should be on the safe side by having a proposal. Yes, some agents will ask for a proposal, and you darn sure should have one to send. As you know, it is not a two-hour project to write such a document. It does not really differ all that much from a nonfiction proposal. You still have to have a purpose and a focus of your memoir, as well as a great hook. You still need to be able to establishe a flow of chapters, as well as a chapter summary. As you said, you need to identify potential readers or groups of readers, be able to show the competition if there are similar books available, and have fairly comprehensive plans for marketing. You should also have a couple of your best chapters to add on at the end of the proposal. I can't say that I have had great response from my memoir. No one has yet even read my memoir proposal. I did have significant responses from my first nonfiction proposal about the military, although it never sold. I'm still at work (now and then) on a humor book, and started a novel, which is giving me a hard time still. Anyway, let me know if I can help in any way. John

#22 mwsinclair

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 09:43 PM

John has said it well, Kelly. I think you're smart to be prepared to answer those types of questions and have a proposal ready if requested. I think the knowledge of similar memoirs (i.e., your potential competition) is especially important.

With typical nonfiction (i.e., not memoir), it's all but demanded, but one thing it shows is that there actually is a market. Knowing a bit about your memoir, I don't doubt that there is a market. As you suggested, how your story is different could make all the difference in attracting an agent and an audience.

#23 kellyann

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Posted 06 July 2011 - 07:28 AM

Kellyann,
It sounds like you are on the right track. The guidance I have always understood is that you definitely should be on the safe side by having a proposal. Yes, some agents will ask for a proposal, and you darn sure should have one to send. As you know, it is not a two-hour project to write such a document. It does not really differ all that much from a nonfiction proposal. You still have to have a purpose and a focus of your memoir, as well as a great hook. You still need to be able to establishe a flow of chapters, as well as a chapter summary. As you said, you need to identify potential readers or groups of readers, be able to show the competition if there are similar books available, and have fairly comprehensive plans for marketing. You should also have a couple of your best chapters to add on at the end of the proposal. I can't say that I have had great response from my memoir. No one has yet even read my memoir proposal. I did have significant responses from my first nonfiction proposal about the military, although it never sold. I'm still at work (now and then) on a humor book, and started a novel, which is giving me a hard time still. Anyway, let me know if I can help in any way. John


Thanks and good luck with your new project(s) - I am sort of in writer's limbo now but will keep checking in!
It’s never too late to shoot for the stars regardless of who you are- Nickelback

#24 mabim2002

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 10:45 AM

Very happy we could help. Hope we can provide additional insight or assistance!

Thanks, mwsinclair. One question I have is whether it is ok to use bullet points in a nonfiction query. I have done so in the revised query for my GOD WITHOUT DELUSION book, to give specifics on the content. It seems to me bullets are visually better than just listing this content all in one long sentence divided by ';'s ...
I appreciate any wisdom on this. Thanks.

#25 mwsinclair

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 12:28 PM

Well, I've actually seen them used by a woman who wrote a book about writing nonfiction book proposals. So they can work.

If it were fiction, I'd steer clear of bulleted queries. But yours is a nonfiction work. I'll need to take a look at your query (thanks for the link, and I'm sorry I seem to have missed it previously), but it is possible that it works.

You'll almost certainly find them useful in the book proposal, which is in some ways more important to a prospective agent than the query. In a sense, your query is designed to get the agent to examine your proposal. If the proposal strikes her as a viable, marketable project, you may be in luck.



#26 Alan Karam

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 06:11 PM

I have been working on my query which is a nonfiction/memoir and I sent it out to a couple of agents last week. One of the agents emailed me back asking for the first five pages of the manuscript. Not a problem, but, to my understandings, authors sell their nonfiction books simply on a Proposal. This is one of the key issues with authors and agents when it comes to nonfiction books. Has anyone else come across this before? Or is it varies amongst agents?

Thanks everyone,
Alan

#27 jrmcclarren

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 07:03 PM

Hey Alan,
I gather from your "Desert Warrior" designation that you are military or have been. I presume by that that I have something more in common with another of our group. You are right in your last comment. It will differ among agents, as to what they are looking for. Most will expect you to have a proposal for a memoir. I have one at the ready, but have not yet been asked to forward it. I have heard that there may be those who do not expect a proposal, but always be prepared to produce whatever they may ask. I hope we can share some things in the future. I'd like to know more about your memoir. John

#28 Alan Karam

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 07:57 PM

Hey John,

thanks for your comment, yes, it is true. However, this memoir that I have written is about my family and I survived the days when Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq. I would be more than happy to send you a copy of my query which I have been revising it for some quite some time.

Alan

#29 jrmcclarren

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 05:39 AM

Alan, nice offer. I'd love to read your query. I have not had much feedback, other than rejections, on mine. Maybe we can exchange queries and provide feedback for each other. I thought mine was pretty good (of course), but there must be a reason why I have not gotten any positives yet. Send me an email address and I'll give you mine. Please let me have your feedback with both barrels. I can take it, and I know that I need to make some changes. This is just not working. Don't ask me why I haven't posted it here. It might have been a great idea. Anyway, my email is jrmcclarren@gmail.com. Thanks. John

#30 Alan Karam

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 11:44 PM

John good to hear from you, I have done some revisions on my query and posting it here on AQC was a tremendous idea. I was able to see my query completely in a different way. Anyways, I will email you mine and you email me yours. We can definitely help each other out.

-Alan K.




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