After the last few weeks, and the newest round of queries, it’s time to re-iterate how to prep requested materials. Speaking as an agent who likes to step away from her computer (which seems to be a rarity), it’s essential the time spent reading a manuscript and/or book proposal is actually spent READING. To some folks this may sound arbitrary, however most of the items (listed below) can easily get frustrating, especially when an Agent is excited about a new book idea – only to hit these barriers before reading the material.
1. Please do NOT bind the manuscript and/or book proposal. Do not staple, spiral-bind, 3-ring bind, and any other means when preparing one’s materials. Here at Red Sofa, I will literally remove the binding, in order to read it quicker. Plus, the content will be more portable, as bite-size bits (when travelling to meetings) can be brought along (for reading) during the random lulls between appointments.
2. Print only on the front-page. Do not print on the back-page. Time is short, so efficiency is key. It’s easier to read a manuscript or book proposal when content is printed only on one side of each page. A very normal industry standard.
3. Send a FULL book proposal (when specifically requested by an Agent). If an Agent requests a full book proposal, then send a full book proposal. Once again, there is nothing more frustrating than looking forward to seeing an author’s book proposal, only to find it lacking any of the important elements. Always ensure there is an Introduction,Overview, Author Bio, Competition, Market (WHO will buy the book), Promotion (HOW people will learn about the book), and any other pertinent information in regard to one’s Writing Platform. A Table of Contents (for the book) is always nice too. REMINDER: The full book proposal is a fantastic tool in winning over an Agent, as we consider all the information (presented in the sections) before offering representation.
4. Always include the S.A.S.E. (Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope). Do you want the requested material back? Especially if the project is turned down? Then include the S.A.S.E. It’s that simple.
5. Follow the mailing (submission) standards requested by each Agent. If the Agent says to mail via FedEx, do it. If the Agent prefers UPS, do it. If the Agent says to use “snail mail,” a.k.a. the U.S. Postal Service, do it. If the agent requests that the material not require a signature, then please honor this request.
6. Paginate the manuscript and/or book proposal. Referring back to #1, sometimes it’s easier to carry a portion of an Author’s manuscript (for reading) while on the “go.” This will make it easier to keep the content together, and enables the Agent to be able to refer to specific pages when asking questions or making comments.
7. Double-space please. I like my eyes, and reading manuscripts that are single-spaced hurts them.
8. A Synopsis is a Synopsis. Please do not make it overly long. 3-5 pages would suffice, granted it’s sometimes better to stay around three pages. Anything longer needs to be edited down, as the Synopsis is another tool in winning over an Agent.
9. Be proud, show off your accomplishments. I’m not talking about high school, one’s goals in life, or the number of college degrees. We’re talking about the Writing Platform. If already published in print journals and newspapers, take the time to put copies of these writing samples along with the requested materials. This applies to online articles and stories as well. REMINDER: Examples of published writing sent to any Agent is a part of the Author’s figurative marketing kit.
Any questions? Drop me a line, or comment to this post. 🙂