Query letter for self-help book

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Anonymous 9 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #346636


    I will take any advice on my query letter that people could offer. Thank you 🙂

    Backpacking across every continent. Winning an Olympic medal. Sitting on a tropical island while a buff cabana boy fans you and serves you margaritas. We all have goals for our own lives, but our excuses keep us from chasing after them. We tell ourselves that we don’t have the money, or the time, or the resources. But what really stops us from living the life we’ve always dreamed about? Fear.

    Fear is the feeling that we have whenever we perceive a physical or emotional threat. Our brains control our innate fear response. Fear is a good emotion to have, because it keeps us safe in many situations. But we also feel fear in situations that are not as dangerous. This means that we will feel fear when we are in quite dangerous situations, like when we are about to be attacked by a bear. But we will also feel fear at other unnecessary times, like when somebody is approaching us to ask us on a date. Unless the person approaching you looks like a bear, and then maybe you should be afraid.

    Fear is the source of our inability to take risks and reach for our goals. Fear holds us back, but we don’t have to let it. All we have to do is cultivate habits of mind that will help us overcome our fears and find success: optimism, love, gratitude, trust, courage, power and purpose.

    My inspirational, self-help book of 60,000 words, Fearless, will give readers the tools to go out and accomplish their dreams, so they can write that New York Times best-selling book, go on a safari in Africa, compete in the running of the bulls, ask their boss for a promotion. Workbook pages provide activities and exercises to get readers reflecting and activated, and on the road to becoming a bit more fearless. Written with a younger voice, Fearless will empower readers 18-30 years old to carve a prosperous life into adulthood.

  • #655106


    This isn’t grabbing me. I haven’t figured out specifics, so I’m going to drift into other advice.

    I’m not sure that a query is the right process for nonfiction works. I don’t have nonfiction experience, so what I say could be very wrong, but I’ll post it as food for thought.

    From what I understand, nonfiction books aren’t about plot, arc, story. They present some principle or concept, and explore that. So the “conversation” with agents and publishers is different. Agents and publishers, also, aren’t just selling a story. You, the author, are a much more integral part of selling the nonfiction. In short: Why should a reader trust you to lead them to their goals?

    You’ve got to establish your authority on the subject. You may not like Anthony Robbins, for example, but his self-help lectures are packed to the rafters. He’s got that authority established. When he puts out a self-help book, people pay attention.

    Do you think they’d pay attention if he was a line cook at a fast food franchise, still working entry level jobs?

    And, having written that, I thinks that’s why the query doesn’t work for me.

    You identify something you want to address, but there’s nothing here to tell me, or an agent, or a publisher, what kinds of tools you’re going to provide.

    A query isn’t the time to be coy. Come out with it. What are those tools, and why are you the one to provide them, to prove that they work?

    Also, 18-30 year-olds *are* adults.

  • #655107


    A query letter for nonfiction is a bit different than for novels. This might be of help:


  • #655108


    Yeah, I always feel really bad when someone posts non-fiction work.

    I literally have no clue how to critique it, because I’ve never written in it or researched it.

    Not to tout another website, but I do want you to get the critique you deserve: absolutewrite has a fairly large cast of writers, and there are many non-fiction writers who can put a word in or two.

  • #655109


    What others have said.

    I can tell you from experience that what you need is not really a query letter but a book proposal. This tells what the book is about, how it is organized, and what your qualifications are for writing it. You enclose two or three sample chapters. What you don’t do is finish writing the book before you get a contract.

    Also, book proposals are often sent directly to the publisher without going through an agent.


  • #655110


    Thank you so much for all of your replies! Sorry I didn’t reply sooner, I didn’t get any notifications that all of you replied 🙂

    Crono – Thanks for mentioning AbsoluteWrite! I will check it out. I have been wanting to get some more feedback on my work. I’m just not sure what places on the internet exist for writers to come together and chat with each other. I belong to GoodReads and that is the only place I can think of. So I’m thankful for your information.

    Ostarella – Also much thanks for the Jane Friedman link… although I queried her agency with my book and they didn’t like it so… their loss! Lolllll.

    Warren – Thank you, I’ve actually already written a book proposal. Some agents have liked my query letter, enough to want me to send a bit of the manuscript or the proposal. But, never has it become an offer.

    Rob – I think you hit on something really good here. I am too coy. I look at the author biographies on books that say things like “So and so has sold 10 million copies of books, given lectures on every continent, etc.” and I see it as bragging. I have accomplished a lot in my life and I don’t discuss it with others. Of course, I can see how this could be shooting me in the foot. Also interesting that you mention Tony Robbins. In my book proposal I mention that he of course is very famous, but he has a particular style in his self-help, and mine is very different.

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