The official 'how to' from Seal Press
Teresa M Shafer - For books that kindle thought and ignite the imagination!
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The official 'how to' from Seal Press

So a while ago I wrote a blog about how to write a query letter that will get you noticed. I posted a nice letter written by an agent that could help you to write that letter. I got a lot of great information from that letter and have subsequently submitted one of my books to quiet a few agents and even a publisher. As I have told you before, publishers often do not like it when you submit your work to more than one of them at a time, but Agents don't generally care. So I have been spreading it out with this book. Now I'm ready to move on to another book, but before I do that I want you to see the short version of how to write a query letter.. This is exactly what a publisher wants to see. This is from Seal Press.

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Project overview. Be sure to include a working title for your project. Provide a general description of your book (25 words or less). Be sure to answer: what is its mission, purpose, or overall concept? In addition, provide a table of contents and an outline with summaries/descriptions of each chapter. Let us know the current status of your project. (Is it completed? If not, when do you expect to complete it? What is its anticipated length?)

Writing sample. Include a representative sample of your writing. For a single-author book, include your introduction or first chapter. If you are proposing an anthology, include your introduction, proposed call for submissions, and a representative sampling of contributions. We are most concerned with getting a sense of your voice and style, and will request more writing when we need it.

Research the competition. What books have already been published on this topic? Refer to specific authors and titles. What, specifically, sets your proposed book apart from each of its potential competitors? Does it approach the subject from a different angle, include new coverage of the topic, or have some other element that will be irresistible to buyers?

Tell us about your platform. What are you doing regularly to build that platform? How will you help us to reach your followers, your target audience? This section of your proposal is just as important as the writing itself.

Target audience. Whom do you see as the audience or audiences for your book? (Try to think of at least three.) What specifically would appeal to them about your book? What questions does it answer, or what needs does it fulfill, for this audience?

Marketing strategy. How would your book’s potential audience(s) best be reached? What publications do they read? What television or radio shows do they watch/listen to? What experience do you have with public readings/public speaking? Do you regularly speak to audiences on topics related to your book’s subject? Do you write a regular column for a newspaper, magazine, or website? Let us know about any contacts, affiliations, or associations you belong to that will enable you to help promote the book after it is published.

Author biography. Tell us about yourself and your background. Include a copy of your current resume or CV, and provide detailed information about your previous publications. Why do you think that you are the person to write this book? If you are proposing an anthology, what makes you particularly qualified to serve as an editor, and what makes your contributors particularly qualified to write about this subject?

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That was the short and to the point version of what they want to see. I took this outline and wrote a proposal for A Return to Sanity. Of course I know that if I get picked up with that book, because it is self-published I will need to change the book considerably so that it can be published with a new ISBN and be legal. But, that book can easily be changed. The story is complete as it stands but in the situation of abuse, real abuse not just a story about it like my Cali, there is always more to tell. One thing that they like to hear is that the author is willing to work with the agent or publisher on their own creation. They like to know that the author is willing to change things to improve the book. After all, the agents and publishers make real money doing what they are doing and the author generally is not. It is not hard to see who should be leading between them. Some authors cannot see that through their own pride or ego. I don't have that problem, I know that I can improve.

Speaking of improving, I am still seeking the illusive short story. I can't seem to write a single story that is less than 6000 words. It's frustrating. I have been working very hard trying to write a story that is short enough to be accepted by a magazine or periodical. But, the stories just get out of hand and take off as if they have a will of their own. Clearly it's time for a new strategy. First I need to finish the story that I'm working on now. I think that I can keep it below 10,000 words. Still that is too much. 

I just got a whole lot of new music on MP3, which means that I can use it on my website. So look for big changes on the site as I change all of the music and make it easier for you all to navigate from one thing to the next. I will be linking all of my book covers to either the EBook page or straight to purchase with PayPal. I'm not sure which one would be better for you. I still want to give away the first chapter on the site so I don't want to downplay that part. I also want to make some of the poetry available. I've been talking to Cindy and she is all in when it comes to sharing. She just needs to tell me which ones she wants to give away, so I can make a page and link it in. I also have a bunch of pictures that I want to share from our family Easter celebration. My sister is in them and looking quite good considering that she literally died and was revived last month. I handed my camera happy niece my camera and got a couple dozen pictures in about 10 minutes. Then they switched to phones. Kids... even camera's don't hold their attention like they once did. 

I'm taking a long weekend, still getting Furloughed by the State so I have to take a day off without pay. But I will make the best of it by working on my website. I also plan on going out to the river and perhaps some horse back riding in Genoa. I will take my camera and see what I may see. Maybe even a real fresh Tombstone Pizza is on the horizon! 

Please keep the ELI group in your prayers as we try to get enough money to keep our charity solvent and moving forward. Also take the time to read a chapter for free and see if you like anything. 

Live well and be good to each other.


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