Have you ever wondered how literary agents make money? Or how much commission a literary agent makes on the sale of a book or novel? The answer is: It varies! Here’s a brief overview of standard literary agent commissions and percentages of sales.
A query letter is pasted into the body of an email. It is the first thing an agent or publisher is going to see. You are going to send then a pitch that grips the reader and makes them want to read your book. This is also the answer you are going to give when someone says... what is your book ABOUT?
This is an older version of my post. Please read the updated one HERE rather
You may want to write a non-fiction book that is based on your professional expertise. Or perhaps it's an illustrated children’s book, a cookbook or a photographic travel book. The good news is that you don’t have to write your entire book first. You can submit a proposal. In fact these books are generally commissioned by publishers on a proposal basis. (I am going to use the terms publisher / agent interchangeably).
This means that writing a proposal is actually a Pretty Big Deal. They are long and they take a whole lotta work. But they will easily weed out the serious writer (that’s you) from the ‘don’t care enough’ to an experienced publisher. Don’t rush the process of the book proposal and don’t underestimate how carefully crafted this needs to be. This is what is going to get your book sold.
How many copies do you think your book will sell? A publisher wants to know what your expected sales are. But how do you work that out? Well the numbers are possibly less than you think. Wince. Ready?
This is a brilliant insider view of how many books actually get sold.
In a non-fiction proposal you need to be specific. Who did you write this book for? Who is most likely to buy it, and why?
Sending off a manuscript is terrifying. It is adrenalin inducing, heart-stopping stuff for any writer. But so many writers bail or fail at this critical point. You send your book off to a publisher and get a rejection letter. Then you put it in a bottom drawer and don’t send it again. This is not called submitting a book! Submitting a book is a long process that requires work and persistence.
This is NOT the time to be shy or hold back.
Do you believe in this book?
Did you invest your time in it?
I have been coaching writers for some years now and I wanted to address some of the most common reasons queries or questions that I get. Naturally most of these crop up during the Write a Book in 100 Days course. But they are universal questions and ones that any writer may encounter. Let’s tackle some of them in a Q&A format. Apologies if you recognise any of these questions as ones you sent me. They are just good illustrations of common problems or questions.
Choosing a genre is the starting point in all fiction writing. It is also a place that many writers get stuck. I found this list about 10 years ago somewhere and I have added to it and adapted it over the years. I update this list regularly.
Genre is a funny thing. Ask most writers what they HATE and they will tell you ‘generic fiction’. Just the word ‘generic’ will strike fear in the heart of a creative being. It sounds so cardboard cutout. It feels as if it is the antithesis of creativity - as if you are writing off a template and simply have to fill in the details. But I am a genre FANATIC and I have to impress that this is your very first choice when you start to write 'a book'.
Sarah Bullen is a writing coach, literary agent and book editor. She coaches writers on how to become authors and how to write to get published.