For fiction, we ask that you attach the first fifty pages of your novel along with your query, using the submission form on this website or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For nonfiction queries, it is best to attach a book proposal with sample chapters, as outlined below. The look of your proposal is important. It should be double spaced and paginated, and each section should start on a new page.
A guide to the contents of your proposal, not your book. It should identify all of the other sections of the proposal (Summary, Author, etc) and the page on which each section starts.
Pretend this is the jacket flap copy that people will read once your book is on display at Barnes & Noble or your local bookseller. It should make somebody want to read your book. No more than one or two pages.
Don't be shy in developing this biographical sketch. Your reader wants to know why you are uniquely qualified to write this book—by dint of training and/or experience. If you have published other books, let us know what they are and if any were critically and/or commercially successful. If you lecture or make frequent media appearances, let us know. Err on the side of tooting your own horn too loudly; we'll help you tone it down if necessary. No more than one or two pages.
Who are you writing for? And most important, why will they buy, keep, and talk about your book? What benefits will your book offer—and which ones can't they get elsewhere? It's important to describe your audience—and their motivation to buy—as specifically as possible. One to three pages.
Are there other books similar to yours? Have they been successful? Without knocking the competition, set your work apart. Be sure to identify the title, author, publisher, and year of publication for all competitive titles you cite. One to three pages.
Special Marketing and Promotional Opportunities
By virtue of your position or background, do you offer a publisher any advantages in promoting your work? Do you have a blog or a social media following, preside over or belong to an association or forum, or in any other way draw the attention of potential readers? Is your work likely to be adopted for use by schools or membership organizations—and is it likely to be used year after year by these audiences? Are foreign sales likely? Be as specific as possible. One to three pages.
What is your proposed book length (multiply your estimated number of manuscript pages by 250 words per page)? How many photographs and illustrations will you have, if any? Are there special considerations about book size, format, or style that are important to the presentation of your ideas? Last, but not least, when will you be able to deliver a completed manuscript?
Start with a table of contents, just as you would see in any book. This gives the editor a snapshot of the organization of the entire book. Then start a new page for an annotated version—in effect an outline—that shows how the book will unfold in more detail. The outline is not a final commitment; by the time you have completed the book, it may or may not follow the outline. But at this stage, it shows that you've got a plan for moving ahead. The outline should contain section and chapter headings; beneath each heading, present from one to three paragraphs explaining what the chapter contains and how the content moves the book forward.
No matter how good your idea or how well organized your outline is, a publisher needs to know that you can translate that idea effectively in your writing. He or she needs a representative sample of your style and approach. That does not have to be the first chapter, though it can be. If different parts of your work are different in tone or approach, you can submit selections from different chapters. However, it is best to see at least one chapter carried through from beginning to end.