The Mystic River novelist’s latest trilogy—which begins in early 20th-century Boston—concluded this year with World Gone By (WD Interview, Page 46). In our online-exclusive outtakes, he discusses writing truthful fiction about real-life historical figures, racism and other issues of the times.
"Queries are business letters. Agenting is business. Publishing is business. I try to be nice and friendly and funny and all, but the bottom line is that I expect those with whom I work to be professional and take what they’re doing seriously." —Linda Epstein (Jennifer De Chiara Literary)
Now, there are really two different types of rejection letters. The first one I don’t have a big problem with. These are the letters for projects that might not be quite right for what I am looking for, or for stories that might not be ready for publishing yet. With stories like this, we can often take the time to provide a few suggestions for improvement, or to discuss why the story is not right for us. Yes, writing the letters takes time, but when I hit “send” I feel as if this author might be one step closer to publishing.
Sometimes you only have seconds for your query to catch interest, and a great opening line can do that. We, as authors, try so hard to summarize our entire book, instead of just picking out the one or two elements that make our book unique, that I think we get lost when trying to do something like this. But practice will make it easier for you, and I hope the following ideas will help. CRAFT A TAGLINE: Taglines are the one or two lines that are often on the front of a book cover. They are another way for publishers to draw the interest of a reader to your book. For example, the tagline on the cover of my December 2010 release, Beneath the Thirteen Moons. is “She never believed in fairy tales … until she found a prince…”
No matter what type of nonfiction book you’ve written, if you’re proposing your book for publication you must show you’re prepared. Imagine an editor is considering two book proposals by first-time writers. Both books are equally clever in concept, suited for his house, and he’d be proud publishing either. But he only has budget for one. Reviewing one he sees a tight synopsis, a descriptive table of contents, and a short author bio. Promising. Cricket Freeman is a literary agent with The August Agency.
Crafting a nonfiction book proposal that you hope will make “Your Future Agent’s Wish List” (Page 21)? Get bonus tips for increasing agent interest by thoroughly researching comp titles and enhancing your Web presence as a nonfiction writer to be reckoned with in these helpful free excerpts from Publish Your Nonfiction Book by Sharlene Martin and Anthony Flacco.