Monday, October 11, 2010

Industry Submission Standards—Part Three

Today we’ll finish up with How to Format a Book Proposal for email submission. One thing I can’t stress enough is the need to find out if the editor/publisher you’re submitting to will allow emails with an attachment. There is no industry standard. Some publishers allow attachments and others require submissions to be pasted into the body of the email. For our purposes, we’ll assume you’ll be sending an attachment. If they require it to be within the body of the email, just make sure everything is included.

After you’ve determined how to send your proposal, the next thing to do is to check the publisher/agent’s website. Many of them have specific requirements for submitting a proposal. ALWAYS follow those requirements. The information I’m giving is general, never give that more importance than what the website says.

NOTE: Unlike an email query, the parts of a proposal need to be formatted so that they can be printed out, if the editor/agent so desires.

COVER LETTER—every proposal, whether fiction or non-fiction, needs a cover letter. This is in addition to the introductory email that you will of course send.
  • Author’s contact information – Name, physical address, phone number and email
  • Editor/Agent contact information – Name, title, physical address, phone number and email
  • Short hook – to remind them of why they requested the material
  • Specifics of when they met you or requested the material (possibly through a previous email)
  • Short explanation of the material (This is a 30 day devotional or This is a 85,000 word romantic suspense)
  • Formal signature line
COVER PAGE—this will be included in any proposal, no matter the length
  • Title—in bold letters and large font, centered
  • Contact Information—Repeat your contact info
  • Genre and Manuscript Length
TABLE OF CONTENTS—no matter the length of the proposal, always include a Table of Contents

NOTE: Everything after the table of contents should include a header and a footer. These should be single spaced. For the header, include an extra line below the second line to separate it from the body of the proposal pages.

  • Upper left corner—Title/Genre
  • Upper right corner—Word Count
  • Second line of upper left corner—Your name
  • Second line of upper right corner—Your email address
Page Number—this can be centered or in one of the corners, just make certain that the placement remains consistent throughout the proposal. Include the COVER page and the TABLE OF CONTENTS in the page count. This means page 3 will be the first page where you see the page number on a page.

Most of your proposal will be single spaced. Here are the exceptions.
If the editor/agent wants a synopsis that is more than one page long it should be entirely double spaced. If they only want a one page synopsis it should be single spaced.
These will ALWAYS be double spaced.

There are multiple, excellent websites that include sample proposals for fiction and non-fiction. These detail what to include much better than I ever could. Here are a couple of the best:
To follow up on a proposal you’ve sent, ALWAYS check the website guidelines. If there are no guidelines, I recommend waiting at least three months and then follow up with a polite email. NEVER call the publishing house or the agent.

I hope you’ve found this series helpful. If you notice anything I’ve forgotten, please add it in the comments section!
Don't forget to join the conversation!

1 comment:

  1. Edie, This series has been very helpful. Thank you for the simplicity of the information. I look forward to meeting you next weekend.

    Sweet blessings to you!