The Dream comes true (Almost)

So you are done editing. Are you done yet? Nooooooo, you are not done until that novel appears on a bookstore shelf. So now its time to turn that creative mind into a business mind mind and try to get that book deal. Regrettably, I am not at this stage yet, but I have been reading about the publishing industry since I was 12, and I want to become a Lawyer in the publishing industry, so I know a great deal about it.

Self Publishing?

With the advent of the internet, self publishing is become more popular. If you would like to have a copy of you novel for yourself, family and friends, this might be the best option for a young writer, but don't expect to become the next bestselling teen writer. You get to create your own cover page, dedication, and can even sell your novel on Amazon. 
Here is a link to a trustworthy self publisher.

Vanity Publishers

AKA. Evil people who want you're money.
You pay a vanity publisher to publish your novel which is wrong, wrong, wrong.  The publisher is supposed to be paying you. So if you come across a publisher or agent who asks for money RUN AWAY.

Here is an agency that almost scammed me when I was trying to get my screenplay published

Traditional Publishers

With a traditional publisher, you send a query letter with the first three chapters to a publishing house. This is ideal for small to medium houses where your manuscript won't stay in a slush-pile for many months before you get a response. Many large publishing houses won't even accept query letters directly from a writer unless they have been published before. If they like your query letter then they will ask for a proposal, which is essentially your business plan for your novel, and a full manuscript. If they like that, then the world is your oyster.  You will sign a book deal which give the publishing house the rights to your novel. You will be assigned a editor, revise your novel, and then, if all goes well, you're book will be published. The downside is that you will only be payed about 10% of the revenue. That is because, a writer, you took no  financial risk on your novel. A publisher takes tremendous risk when they sign a book deal, so they get most of the profits.


You pay an agent about 10% of your revenue to represent your novel more or less. Agents have the inside scoop on the publishing industry and can negotiate deals with large publishing houses. They have incredible super powers, and a business mindset, which, as a writer, you probably don't have. Many large US publishing houses don't take unsolicited manuscripts, so an agent is essential if you want to be published by, lets say, Harper Collins. If you want to publish in Canada, or at a small publishing house, then an agent isn't really necessary. 
To get an agent to represent your novel, you would approach them similar to how you would approach a publishing house. First you send a one page query letter and the first three chapters of a novel. If they are interested they will ask you to send a proposal and a full manuscript. If they like that, then they do their best to sell your novel.
When you query an agent, or a publishing house, then make sure that they are interested in the type of novel that you are trying to sell them. If you wrote a science fiction novel, don't try to it to an agent interested in romance, or worse, non-fiction..

The Query

A query is just as important as a novel, so write it just as well as you would write a novel. This is how you can write a query letter:
  • Write one page, describing your novel and persuading the agent or publishing house why it would be worthwhile to invest time in your manuscript
  • Don't finish the summary of you're novel, leave the reader wanting more!
  • Start with a hook to entice the reader
  • Be specific and professional
  • Include the length of your novel
  • Close with "I look forward to hearing from you soon"
  • Include your name, addresses, and return postage if you are using snail mail
  • Check to see if they would prefer snail mail or e-mail

This is a terrible Query letter which I copied from
Dear Miss Snark, [As much as I enjoy seeing which agent you queried before me, it's probably not the best strategy to forget to change the salutation.]

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if there was a race a heartless zombies who ate, nay enjoyed, human flesh? [Mayday mayday. My epic war against query letters beginning with rhetorical questions is not going well. Please send reinforcements.] In my 250,000 word novel, the first of a million word trilogy, a race of homicidal zombies target literary agents, gleefully spilling their vile literary agent blood all over their computers, enacting revenge on behalf of mankind for all of the query letters they have rejected over the years. [250,000 words is waaaay too long. Also you might want to avoid plot lines that involve literary agents dying at the hands of crazed zombies. I'm just saying.]

Drew Diggler was born in Denver, Colorado. His best friend was named Charlie. His dog was named Fred. He once had a crush on a girl named Susan. Susan dumped him. Then he went to high school. In high school he had a dream about zombies. But he didn't meet any actual zombies until much later. He went to college. In college he saw a movie about zombies. Then after he graduated from college he actually met a zombie. The zombie told him it was his mission in life to stab every literary agent in the world with their staplers. [Too much information. Where is the plot? Also, I'm not a big fan of excessive gore. Especially gore that involves literary agents.]

Meanwhile, Drew Diggler realizes that he hates his corporate soul-sucking job, he has grown weary of his wife and their two children, he hates like, his existence, man, so he quits his job/travels around the world/goes on a homicidal killing spree. [The whole man-suffering-crushing-ennui-and-subsequent-mid-life crisis plot is just a tad played out. Also, what happened to the zombie? He was kind of growing on me.]

And then after he quits his job/travels around the world/goes on a homicidal killing spree, he discovers Jesus' DNA and decides to clone him while uncovering a centuries old plot that is protecting the hidden meaning of life just as he stumbles upon a government conspiracy concealing the existence of extraterrestrial life, all the while being chased by the bad guy, who is an evil albino. [You might want to avoid these plotlines as well. And this letter is going on too long.]

This is just one of seventeen unpublished projects I would like you to represent, all attached here. [Writes about more than one project, attaches a file]. I'm so so so so so so sorry I'm a first time writer, I know I'm not qualified, I genuflect before you, but see, at least I know the word genuflect so that has to count for something, right? I know there are better qualified writers out there than me, but I hope you will please give me a chance. Please? Will you? I hope you will. [Don't apologize for being a first time writer -- I like first time writers! They have that new author smell.]

My book is kind of like THE DA VINCI CODE mixed with THE LOVELY BONES meets THE HISTORIAN mixed with a dash of HARRY POTTER and ERAGON. Oh, and it's also like FANCY NANCY and THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN. Now that I think about it it's exactly like a lot of other bestselling books out there, so it is guaranteed to be a #1 New York Times Bestseller. [Don't compare your book to a bunch of other bestselling books -- it's ok to reference other books, but you probably want to avoid big bestsellers]. I did not include a SASE in my letter, nor did I include an e-mail address, in fact I'm also not going to include a phone number, just so you cannot possibly get in touch with me. [This actually happens -- I have a file full of letters with absolutely no contact information. Sadly I was not even able to reach the authors using telepathy.]

Let's make some money together. [Whenever people say this I always imagine that we're starting a used car dealership.]

Nathan Bransford, Author

This is a good query letter which I found on
Children learn best when they’re having fun. Jungle Gym Jimmy is an article for parents and children that teaches playground safety and shows how simply playing can promote good health and fitness. The lessons are told through the comical voice of the “tour guide” on the playground, seven-year-old Jimmy. Through Jimmy’s antics, children learn how to use the equipment safely and how to get the most fun out of a day at the playground. 

As a Kid Talk subscriber for the last seven years (for the kids, I swear), I am very familiar with your publication, and feel this article would be a positive addition to the “I Can Do It” section of the magazine. The article is 2, 114 words, and has been divided into categories in a way that holds children’s interest. Being a mother of four children and with our home as a meeting place for most of the neighborhood, I’ve had the opportunity to test and verify that the fun and easy “exercises” offered here are not only effective but are loads of fun for the kids. 

I’ve been writing children’s stories and articles for several years, and have had many of my stories featured in Kids Know Best, a small newspaper that the Cinder Elementary School publishes each month. I’m also a founding member of the “Right On Baby” editorial group which publishes a monthly e-zine for parents with newborns, and I’m a contributing editor to “Write Now,” an online site teaching creative writing.

Thank you for your time,

What to put in a query

1. Say hi to your agent. Always include a name. (the agent in question's name would be preferred.) briefly state why you picked them.
2. What is your book about in three or four sentences. Leave them wanting more.
3. Length of book, your name, awards, genre, and anything else you think is important, but NOTHING more. Who cares what your dog is called, that you have been writing novels since you were four, and that your mother thinks that you are going to be the next William Shakespeare.

For more go to
Look in the writers community to see my example.