LitMatch: Research Literary Agents and Track Submissions

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Getting Started: Preparing Your Non-Fiction Submission

Last time, I talked a little about the materials you’ll need for a Fiction submission. Non-Fiction submissions have very different requirements than Fiction submissions, but the main goal is the same: get the agent excited about the prospect of representing your project. As with Fiction, each agent will have slightly different requirements, but the main elements are fairly standard. Here’s what you’ll need:

A Query Letter. As with Fiction submissions, there’s no getting around this one. A good query letter should introduce you and the project you are proposing. Like the Fiction query letter, it should make a good first impression and get the agent interested enough to read more. Also like the Fiction query, it should be personalized for the agent you are sending it to.

Table of Contents & Outline. This item is fairly self-explanatory. List the title of each chapter along with a paragraph that explains what that chapter is about. Remember that, like everything in your submission package, the TOC and Outline is meant to build interest in the subject you are writing about, as well as your unique perspective as a writer. Focus on what makes your book interesting and special.

Sample Chapters. Fiction writers will glare at you enviously when they realize that you don’t actually have to finish a Non-Fiction book to begin selling it. Don’t let that stop you from making these chapters the best they can be. The chapters don’t necessarily have to be consecutive, but they should ideally include your first chapter. Three chapters seems to be the ideal number, though some agents will request more and others will request less.

Market Research. Agents want to know that you’ve done your homework. More importantly, they want to know that you’ve already spent some time finding out whether or not your idea will sell copies. Be sure to include information about any existing titles which might be similar to yours and have a good sales track record. Explain who you believe your audience will be, and why a publishing company would be interested in reaching them.

Author’s Bio. This part is all about you. Specifically, it’s about what makes you qualified to write this book. Talk about your reasons for writing it, and why the subject matter is of particular interest to you. Also, be sure to mention any previous publishing credits you have to your name, along with any other relevant experience you have.

Remember that each agent will want to be approached differently. Always be sure to review the agent’s submission guidelines before you send anything to them. I’ll go into more detail about Non-Fiction submissions in later blog posts. Next time, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of email queries.

Now, get back to writing.

Christopher Hawkins

Register at to receive our newsletter, market updates and more. It’s free, private, and only takes a moment: And while you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to this blog so you won’t miss out on a single post!

1 comment:

Sarah Van Arsdale said...

I'm so glad to see these words of encouragement, and just want to echo them.

In short: if you don't send your work out, it's certain no one will publish it (unless an editor breaks into your home in the night and tosses the desk drawers, gets into the hard drive, and finds your writing...).

If you do send it out, at least there is a chance it will get published.

Joining the writing life is not a one-month fitness program so you'll fit into your little black dress for that big cocktail party. It's life-long training so that you'll have a chance of sailinlg into your golden years in great condition.