Welcome to Living Word Literary Agency
It is the goal of Living Word to represent the works of authors dedicated to fulfilling God’s promise of purpose, hope, and healing. To bring new and talented writers to the attention of Publishers best suited to their heart and message. And to encourage and promote fledgling newcomers, building a strong foundation of integrity and respect through growing relationships within the publishing industry.
ABOUT THE AGENT
In April of 1997, Kimberly Shumate began her employment in the sales department of Harvest House Publishers as the assistant to the National Sales Manager as well as the International Sales Director. Within four years, she was hired into the editorial department steeped in the slush pile of would-be/trying-to-be/can’t-seem-to-be authors. Having been a screenwriter since 1995, a freelance article and book contributor, her ability to identify and polish the diamonds hidden within the coal mines of unsolicited submissions gives her an eye for talent and a heart for the underdog.
Having discovered numerous new authors for Harvest House with sales topping 750,000 copies, several of them have gone on to find success with various book deals, Christy nominations and awards, PW star ratings, and established themselves as the new voices within the CBA market in both fiction and non-fiction genres.
As a member of the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association), the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), advisory staff of George Fox University, the Willamette Writers, and 12 years of publishing experience, Kimberly is pleased to introduce Living Word Literary Agency where she will continue to pursue her passion for helping new and hungry authors find a home within the publishing community.
Submit an initial query with short synopsis and first chapter via Word attachment (electronic submissions only). Do not cut and paste your sample chapter to the body of your email. If the material fits the agency’s interests, then a request for additional material will be sent to you within one week. If you do not receive a response, it means that your project simply doesn’t fit the agency’s program, and we wish you well in your continued pursuit of representation.
Living Word represents adult fiction (Amish and Historical Romance needed), Christian living, dating/marriage, parenting, self-help, apologetics, health, inspirational, environmental, social issues, pop-culture, women’s issues, and men’s issues.
UPDATE: No YA fiction, artwork, cookbooks, children’s books, science fiction or fantasy, novellas, devotionals, memoirs or autobiographies, poetry, or screenplays. No simultaneous submissions, please.
LIVING WORD LITERARY AGENCY
PO Box 40974, Eugene OR 97404
No phone calls, please.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)
Nathan D. Thomas is the associate pastor at Leon Valley Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. Over the past 13 years, Nathan has travelled the world ministering to all age groups and all classes of people through conferences, revivals, and missions work. Since 2006, Nathan has worked full time at Leon Valley Baptist Church building a thriving student ministry including children and teenager ministries. Currently, Nathan is leading and building a family ministry as he prepares to step into the role of senior pastor.
Nathan has three published works through Journeyforth publishers in Greenville, SC: Be Confident in Your Creation (2009), What’s Stopping You (2010), and Be Confident in Your Calling (2013). His passion in ministry is to see men and women of all ages dedicate their lives to living the most powerful life they can for the Lord.
Nathan lives in San Antonio, TX with his wife and 5 children.
Bryce is the Lead Pastor of Parkview Alliance Church in Vermilion, Alberta, Canada. He is in the final stages of completing a Doctor of Ministry (Semiotics and Future Studies) at George Fox Seminary, studying the effects of social media on preaching. With a keen interest in technology and the practice of ministry, Bryce has a unique ability to understand and articulate the changes, challenges, and opportunities that are emerging with a creative voice, insightful analysis, and hopeful vision.
Bryce is married to Laurie and they have three great kids. When not involved in ministry, teaching, or writing, Bryce can be found with his family, working on his house, or volunteering with community organizations like Habitat for Humanity.
Nick Harrison is a senior editor at prominent Christian publishing house and is the author of several books including Magnificent Prayer, 365 WWJD: Daily Answers to “What Would Jesus Do?” and As Grandpa Says. Nick is married and the father of three daughters and the grandfather of four. He and his wife Beverly make their home in Oregon.
Steve Miller is the author of a dozen books, including One-Minute Praises & Promises from the Bible, and has worked in Christian publishing as an editor and writer for 30 years. He resides in Oregon’s beautiful Willamette Valley with his wife, Becky, and has three grown sons.
Rory is a pastor at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada with a congregation of 6,500 people and growing. As the Creative Arts Director, he has written, directed, and often acted in over 200 Christian parables in the past 16 years. He is a frequent keynote speaker and teacher at the Fellowship of Christian Magicians International Convention, and other worship conferences.
His show biz career started when he ran away with the circus at age 17. From there he performed at Walt Disney World for 4 years then headed west to Hollywood to pursue his acting career. He has performed on television, in films, and on stages across the nation including a long run as Buzz Maxwell in the hit comedy Triple Espresso. As a writer, Rory has had several Hollywood films produced.
A leading expert in the field of teaching scripture through drama, Rory combines his theater experience and a degree in Ministry Leadership from Rockbridge Seminary to guide other churches in that exciting area.
Margaret is a mother of four and fanatic history teacher. She studied history at Radford University in Virginia and has never strayed from her first love. She has written several award-winning short stories that can be found in Faithwriters Anthologies, and is relentlessly searching for the perfect historical novel setting. Margaret loves working with teenagers, looking at mountains, and dreaming of global travels, citing life with God as the greatest adventure.
Al Weir is an academic and practicing medical doctor in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was born and raised. He has spent his life alternating between private practice and academic medicine, as well as performing charitable and missionary work in Africa and the Balkans. He has published three books: When Your Doctor Has Bad News (Zondervan), Practice By the Book (Christian Medical & Dental Associations) and is the editor of The Doctor’s Bible (Holman).
Dr. Weir served as the national president of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations (2001-2003). He also served as Vice President and Director of Campus and Community Ministries and Director of Medical Education International with Christian Medical and Dental Associations (2006-2009). He is now Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
William Baldwin (Leadership/Christian Living)
After earning his B.A. in Philosophy and Religion, Bill Baldwin received a Masters Degree in theology with doctoral studies from Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has been a church leader for over thirty years beginning his ministry at age 21. He has planted four churches, and addressed leader’s groups and church conferences in the United States and abroad.
In 2001 he founded Truth To The Nations, a ministry to encourage the church and her leaders to pursue a greater passion for Christ. As a communicator and inspirational speaker, Bill also addresses civic and business organizations.
While continuing his ministry as speaker and writer, he serves as the pastor of a church in Albemarle, North Carolina where he makes his home with his wife, Karen. Together, they have four children, two grandchildren, and two dogs, Rosie and Gracie.
Carol Slama believes that if you do things God’s way you live in perpetual adventure. She’s trying to do things God’s way. A graduate of Pacific Lutheran University, Carol is a successful writer, speaker, and calls Alaska home. Her first suspense novel, Shroud Of Silence, was published by Bethany House Publishers.
Carol skis, hikes, owns ten pairs of Dansko professional clogs, and is thrilled when she can pull off an April Fool’s Day joke on her family. Much of her material is augmented by her quick-witted husband, Brad, and her two teenage sons.
Roland Mann (YA Fiction)
Roland Mann is a writer, editor, and professor. As writer, he is best known for his work on Cat & Mouse, a comic series which ran for nearly two years, garnered critical acclaim, was optioned by Hollywood, and led Roland to other comic work, including time as an editor for Marvel Comics. Roland has over 500,000 copies of his comics in print.
In 2000, Roland found Christ, and began to seek out new avenues for his God-given talent. Roland holds an MFA in Writing, a MA in English, and a BS in Creative Writing. Recently, Roland finds himself acting as a writing mentor and speaking at Writer Conferences where many find his sessions encouraging.
Roland’s most recent publications are his graphic novel adaptations of the classic novels The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Roland currently lives in Oxford, Mississippi with his wife BJ, daughter Brittany, and son Brett, where he is busy working on his next project. He blogs regularly at
Deb isn’t just theorizing when she gives hope and practical solutions to those who struggle with difficult relationships. When she married Randy Kalmbach at 19, she thought all they needed was love (and the possessions they could fit in their metallic blue VW bug!). She never imagined their journey taking them into the depths of addiction with Randy battling alcoholism for almost 30 years before he experienced the miracle of sobriety. Her own brokenness has given her great compassion and insight for others, and is clearly reflected in her writing and public speaking on how to embrace a God-honoring life.
In addition to co-authoring Because I Said Forever: Embracing Hope in a Not-So-Perfect Marriage with Heather Kopp, Deb has also authored children’s book Corey’s Dad Drinks Too Much and has been a frequent contributor to anthologies such as Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace and The New Women’s Devotional Bible.
Deb and Randy make their home in rural Washington state where they are grateful beyond words for their 40 plus years of “not-so-perfect” marriage. They’re blessed with two sons, a daughter-in-law, and a precious grandbaby.
Brandi Boddie holds a J.D. from Howard University School of Law and a B.A. in political science from Youngstown State University. Her research skills led her into the field of law, but it was her first love of writing that made her start penning inspirational romance.
Brandi currently resides in Lawton, Oklahoma with her husband, a youth minister. An Ohioan by birth, she followed her husband from his military station in Virginia to the southwest, where she learned firsthand the beauty and equal harshness of living on the plains. It taught her about adaptability and dependence on the Lord for strength. Those traits are displayed by the characters in her novels.
In her spare time, Brandi enjoys singing in the church choir, traveling, and collecting books.
John Bucher is an award-winning filmmaker with a passion for using storytelling to spiritually impact the culture.
John owns Sideshow Media Group, a culture communications company whose clients have included organizations ranging from Verve Music Group to The US Figure Skating Association to The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to State Farm Insurance to George Clooney. Sideshow also produces award-winning original music, comics, books and short films around spiritual themes and areas of pop culture interest.
John has produced film, television, and video programming in more than 30 countries around the world including Iraq, Mongolia, China and Morocco and participated in government-sponsored film programs in locations as diverse as Havana, Cuba. His documentary work on AIDS in Africa received both Telly and Omni Awards. He is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and has served as artist in residence, keynote and panel speaker at events such as the 180 Film Festival at Southeastern University, the Black Hollywood Film Festival and The City of Angels Film Festival. He has served as the Executive Director for the Damah Film Festival, based in Los Angeles, CA., the largest spiritually based film festival in the world.
John has worked as the head of Communications/Film at Nyack College on both their Nyack , NY and Manhattan campuses and continues to teach in the school’s on-line program. Currently, John teaches at the Los Angeles Film Studies Center while continuing to run Sideshow. He also serves as the Director for Story Development for the Global Short Film Network, an international organization producing short films intended to spark spiritual discussions. http://johnbucher.wordpress.com/
Sara Barnard holds her B.A. in History from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, which is where her love of writing historical fiction stems from. After serving as an editor for the e-zine Hands On as a Student Conservation Association alumni, Sara began having pieces published in various anthologies, which includes the new release The Harsh and the Heart: Celebrating the Military (Silver Boomer Books, 2011) that features her piece Cheyenne, Charlie Company Sweetheart.
Sara has followed her husband and his military career from their home state of Texas across seas to Italy, back to Colorado, and finally to the historic hills of Oklahoma. She loves everything about Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Restaurant, and finds serenity in starting each day by taking in a beautiful sunrise along with a hot cup of coffee.
The most inspirational piece of literature for Sara has always been Lonesome Dove, while her favorite thing on TV remains Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. She and her husband enjoy teaching Godly values to their four children and have found some of the best lessons of love in their four rescue animals Rambo, Rosie, Romeo (The Dog Pack), and Belle The Wonder Cat.
Rocco is a pianist, former Disney musician, songwriter, former college professor, nationwide public speaker, writer, husband and dad, and founding pastor of People’s Church in Tarrytown, New York.
In 1995 Rocco graduated from the Crane School of Music in northern New York State with a classical piano performance degree. After being accepted to the prestigious Eastman School of Music for a graduate program in jazz studies, he instead followed the Lord’s leading to attend Seminary in the Midwest. Then for ten years he taught music, theology, and homiletics on the college level.
Rocco and Jennifer Dapice have traveled extensively, speaking and ministering in music in over 300 churches from Canada to the Caribbean. Venues have included churches, schools, marriage retreats, youth rallies, and conferences. In 2006 the Dapices moved back to their home state of New York to found People’s Church, a new nondenominational church in Westchester County just north of New York City.
Kat & Dogs Kat Albrecht is a police detective turned pet detective and founder of Missing Pet Partnership, a national nonprofit organization that works to reunite lost pets with their families. In January 1993, after hearing a pastor preach a prophetic sermon from Psalm 37:3-9 Kat was skeptical. But when she encountered a crisis just three months later, she asked God to speak to her. What happened next would change the trajectory of her life. Kat now travels and shares her powerful testimony, encouraging other Christians to walk in obedience.
Kat is the author of two books: The Lost Pet Chronicles: Adventures of a K9 Cop Turned Pet Detectives and Dog Detectives: Train Your Dog to Find Lost Pets. She resides near Seattle, Washington with her husband Johnny, her two dogs, and her 21-pound fat cat Cheeto (who was featured on Animal Planet in 2011).
A graduate of Samford University, Laci Post has had a successful and diverse writing career with over sixty articles published in magazines such as Missions Mosaic, Christian Single, and American Fitness.
Laci’s true passion is creative writing. She won a Creative Writing Award from Samford University for one of her short stories, and has had dramatic scripts published in Lifeway’s Christian Scripts for Stage, Street, & Sanctuary. Her novel, Songbird, is the first book of the Ava’s Song series, and is an inspirational/historical fiction novel about how a southern, Christian family triumphs over the irrevocable changes of the World War II era.
When Laci is not writing she and her husband, Jason, are playing games and legos with their five and two year-old sons, Avery and Elijah, at their home in Dallas, GA. Laci is also a group fitness instructor who absolutely loves to read and travel.
Drew Sappington is a clinical psychologist who has worked extensively in university settings as a researcher and professor. He has published one psychology textbook and forty articles in peer-reviewed professional journals including Psychological Review, American Psychologist, and Journal of Psychology and Religion. Drew has done clinical work in mental hospitals, prisons, schools, and private practice, which reflects in his genre of fiction. Because his specialty is anger problems, he has worked with many criminals like those in his latest book, Ethical Crime Inc.
Drew is also a storyteller who performs onstage and at festivals—sometimes telling stories from Christian history. He has published a book of humorous historical tales, and a few entertainment pieces in newspapers and small magazines. Even his psychology textbook has humor in it, as he likes to entertain when he educates. He has appeared on CNN several times and his research has been quoted in Glamour magazineand Ladies’ Home Journal.
Drew teaches Sunday school at First United Methodist Church in St. Augustine, Florida.
Jeff grew up in Richmond, VA and moved to the Seattle area in 1990. After graduating with a B.A. in Biblical Literature and a minor in Greek, he went on to graduated magna cum laude with a Master of Religion, a Master’s of Religious Education, and a Master of Divinity equivalency through Liberty University. He is in the final year of a Doctor of Ministry program specializing in Discipleship at Talbot School of Theology.
While Jeff serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Liberty University where he teaches Bible, Theology, and Ministry courses, he is also a popular writer and conference speaker. He is the Pastor of Discipleship at Eastpoint Church in Spokane Valley, WA and has had the privilege of leading scores of individuals to Jesus during the last eighteen years.
In 2000, April earned her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from McNeese State University, Lake Charles, LA. She then returned to her native state of Texas, teaching high school and junior high band. In 2003, her junior high band placed 5th in the state round of the T.M.E.A. Honor Band competition. Throughout her college and professional career, April and her husband have taught leadership camps during the summers, performed at youth camps and at True Love Waits events through their music, drama and juggling.
During her years of teaching, April developed a heart for the struggles of teenage girls as she witnessed the sexual pressures they faced at school. Having been led by God to pray for her future husband as a youth, and, through His Grace, maintained her sexual purity until marriage, she found that girls received encouragement through her testimony. As a result, she has felt God leading her into writing as a means of sharing her message.
Temporarily, April has left the teaching profession to be a stay-at-home mother. She currently enjoys spending quality time with her husband, Jason, and their son and daughter. She teaches high school girls Sunday School and remains involved in her husband’s band program by instructing his auxiliary group. She enjoys songwriting, singing and playing the flute (or whatever instrument she can get her hands on!). www.armedandvirtuous.org ; www.trying2bloom.blogspot.com
Nancy Axelrad left behind her life in East Coast suburbia in 1992 and has not looked back. Setting off on a solo thousand-mile road trip to finish work on a stage play about radical faith, she learned that discipleship is not for men only. Later she learned the cost of it under fire. Working as a magazine editor and a technical writer, she diversified her skills while honing her faith. She now serves on the Adjunct Faculty in English of the nation’s largest single-accredited community college committed to “accelerating greatness.”
Formerly a partner of Stratemeyer Syndicate, originators of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series, Nancy wrote and edited dozens of popular stories under the pen name Carolyn Keene. She now resides in Indianapolis, home to the Indy 500, Formula One, and The Brickyard.
Melanie LeGrand grew up in a small town in Ohio, and nothing was more exciting than the traveling bookmobile or a visit to the local library—except winning a writing contest in the third grade. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and worked for many years in the public and private sector helping students reach their academic potential while sharing her love of writing and reading. Her creativity soon spread in new directions, and baking became more than a hobby. She opened a pastry business where her gourmet tarts and cheesecakes quickly rose to local celebrity status (her secret lies somewhere between eggs and the art of whisking).
After a move to north Georgia and persevering through several personal adversities, God redirected Melanie’s attention and her childhood dream of writing came full circle. They say write what you know, and she is doing just that—creating characters on the verge of rediscovering themselves and making their dreams come true.
Melanie resides in the Atlanta suburbs and in her spare time enjoys baking, swimming, and taking long hikes with her husband, Heath, and their chocolate lab, Truffle.
Dana earned her undergraduate degree in religion at Duke University then moved on to graduate studies in theology and church history at Yale Divinity School and Regent University. Her creative side also found inspiration at Regent, where she received a master’s degree in communication with an emphasis in television and drama. She put her dramatic talents to use writing the script for the inspirational stage musical Future City, which was produced multiple times in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida over the course of a decade. For the last fifteen years, she has worked as an award-winning graphic designer for a global safety products company.
Dana’s love of history comes naturally. Her paternal grandparents both published books on historical subjects, and she grew up fascinated by stories of her ancestors. These include colorful characters such as Col. John Jones, who married Oliver Cromwell’s sister, signed the death warrant of King Charles I, and was later drawn and quartered!
Dana lives in Western Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, and two little fluffy white dogs. When she is not at work—or holed up reading and writing—Dana can be found singing on her church worship team or helping her daughter with school projects.
As a cultural explorer and leadership imaginer, Dr. Chromey has served the church as a pastor or professor of ministry for over a quarter century. He holds a Doctor of Ministry (Leadership in the Emerging Culture) from George Fox Evangelical Seminary (2007) and has traveled widely as a speaker, teacher, and consultant for churches, schools, and businesses for “Leading from the Edge” ministries, and speaks to thousands of leaders every year. He has penned four books, including his most recent Thriving Youth Ministry in the Smaller Church (Group 2010) and contributed to more than a dozen others. Dr. Chromey has also been a columnist on preteen insights for Children’s Ministry Magazine and has more than 100 articles in print.
Married to Patti for the last 26 years, they have two children, Rebecca (21) and Ryan (16) and reside in Meridian, Idaho. Rick enjoys reading, music, travel, baseball, and motorcycles. www.rickchromey.com
A graduate of Georgetown College, Cinda King received her BA in Psychology with emphases in Philosophy and Religion in 1982. She has been privileged to share her gifts of organization, hospitality, and leadership throughout her professional career. First, as the Director of Daily Activities and Special Events at Locust Grove Historic Home in Louisville, Kentucky, but recently and more significantly as the Director of Hospitality and Special Events and the Women’s Ministries Coordinator at St. Matthews Baptist Church.
Cinda is the author of Walking with Moses – Talking with God (Randall House Publishing, 2008) and is an oft requested devotional writer for Smyth and Helwys Publishing, as well as a contributor of retreat, seminar, and conference materials. She has published articles and inspirational pieces in magazines, devotional booklets, and monthly newsletters. As a speaker, she enjoys sharing her experiences as a wife, mother, and “unlikely leader”.
Cinda lives and writes from her home near Louisville where she enjoys a busy life with her husband and two extraordinary children.
Mark Littleton is a well-known author in the ICRS, with more than 100 titles in print from major Christian publishers. He has had several bestsellers in the children’s book arena, and has been on such major news shows as “Fox and Friends” on Fox News Network. He is married to Jeanette and they have four children.
Book Proposal Outline
Start by using the “Header/Footer” to include the book title, author name, and page # at the top of document.
Title: Proposed title (and subtitle if nonfiction).
Author: Name and complete contact info including telephone, email, web and/or blog sites.
Hook: One/two sentence description that pulls the reader in.
Overview: Nonfiction – what is this book about? Summarize its contents. What’s the takeaway value or felt-need addressed?
Synopsis: Fiction – One to two pages full story outline.
Purpose: Nonfiction – you can use bullets to organize the specific goals of your book.
Promotion and Marketing: Research stats/facts and any pertinent information that will help sell your idea to the agent/publisher. Ways that your book can be successfully marketed to its targeted audience. Avenues the author can promote the book: radio, television, magazine, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Competition: What other books on this subject are currently in print or have been previously published? Use bullets to include book title, author, publisher, and release date with a quick explanation of the book is needed. Try to find at least three comparable books.
Uniqueness: What makes your book different than those you mentioned above?
Endorsements: List any established authors that will back your book with a written statement. If none, then list a handful of authors that write books similar to your own.
Book Format: Nonfiction – outline of how the text or information will be presented (if applicable).
Christian Theme: Fiction – optional but appreciated by Christian agents and editors.
Chapter Outline: Give a short one or two paragraph blip on each chapter.
Intended Readers: List by bullets the primary and secondary audiences.
Manuscript: Establish that the MS is complete or how much is available. Include the book’s (estimated) word-count, and the amount of time needed to complete the work after signing book contract.
Author Bio: Include education, professional contacts, writing awards, etc. Share experience in public speaker, and any websites or active blogs. State why you’re the best person to write this book, and your connection to the subject.
Publishing Credits: Previously published works, book contributions, magazine articles, etc. Include book/article title, publisher/magazine, and release date.
Future Projects: Fiction – give an overview of the series; title and short story synopsis. Non-fiction – pitch upcoming projects; title/subtitle and short description
Simple Rules to Remember
Use 12 point, Times New Roman font
Keep margins 1 x 1 inch, and do not “justify” text
Proposals are single-spaced and written in third person; manuscripts are double-spaced
No heavy formatting or attachments such as pictures, clip art, etc.
Make clear who your audience is and the genre
With fiction it will be necessary to complete the manuscript before submitting to a publisher. With non-fiction, credentials, platform, and/or a really good theme/felt-need will be required
Please don’t ask for a critique of your work if rejected
The following is a workshop I taught at the Northwest Christian Writers Conference held May 17 – 18th, 2013. (Please excuse the format).
How to WOW an Agent!
Kimberly Shumate – Living Word Literary Agency
HOW TO BEGIN:
Know your audience – who are you writing for?
Research the agency and the genres it represents.
Write cover letter in 1st person and the proposal in 3rd person.
Read agency submission guidelines to send exactly what they want: A query letter, short synopsis, and one sample chapter is safe.
- Sending inappropriate material is never appreciated.
- Organize your material – know what you’re selling: (35,000 words isn’t a novel; it’s a novella).
- Don’t send partial book ideas: “I’ve started writing this novel about…” or “I have a great idea for a bible study…”
Agents/Editors need …
- Confidence that you are able to sustain the quality of writing throughout the entire manuscript.
- Certainty that you can meet editorial deadlines.
Note: An excellent book marketing resource is Sell Your Book Like Wildfire by Rob Eager (2012). Social Media is so important—Facebook, Twitter, or even a QR code that takes the reader to a dynamic destination such as an active blog, a video, an audio or book trailer… not to the author’s static website.
Put something—preferably the book title—in the email subject line. Don’t leave it empty.
Query letters should begin with courtesies.
Cutting & pasting your synopsis to the email w/out introducing yourself is too impersonal.
Spell the agent’s name correctly, and be careful when sending multiple submissions – change agent’s name/contact info.
Don’t assume that the agent is male (or female) – “Dear Sir/Madame” is fine.
Never ask for a critique from an agent if rejected – that’s what your critique group is for.
Be professional but also be a person.
It’s easy to lose your warmth and accessibility trying to impress.
Use your first name in correspondence, not your initials.
- Allow the agent the courtesy of knowing if you’re male or female.
- Don’t bury your contact information within the email or proposal.
Send only one follow-up email regarding each submission
- With an agent, give it a month.
- With a editor/publisher, wait 3 months before following up.
Do not request a confirmation of material deletion.
- This screams “Rookie!” It’s up to you to copyright/protect your material.
- You won’t win over anyone by questioning their integrity.
Header for title / author name (10 point font and 0.3 top margin) = “Insert” tab in Tool Bar
View or Insert / Header / Edit Header / Position – 0.3
Page Number / Bottom Left / Format Page # start at 0
Under “Edit Header” choose “Different First Page.” That will erase the title, author name, and page number from the cover letter and begin it on the second page (proposal) starting with page #1
The above instructions will allow your cover letter to be free of header and page number while beginnig your proposal with header (which should include book title and author name) and the page number to start at 1.
Watch your margins throughout the proposal.
- Cut & Paste can affect the continuity of the submission.
- Margins should remain at 1 x 1 inches throughout the document.
Use 12 point Times New Roman font.
- Any bigger or smaller can be a nuisance.
- Send Word documents only – agent may want to manipulate the text.
- No PDF / Adobe files.
- Avoid heavy formatting that includes photos, clips art, etc.
Submit polished, edited work.
- Disengage the “edit” feature before submitting.
- Use bold, italicized, and justified text sparingly.
Originality is key.
- With nothing new under the sun, agents rely on your creativity and unique voice to make the material fresh and relevant.
“Show, don’t tell” rule is in force.
- Reveal information through action and not narration.
Manuscript content should stand up to established authors.
Clichés are a direct reflection of your lack of originality and experience.
Cliché me, cliché me not….
Debbie bit down on her lower lip as she swallowed the lump in her throat. Her brows furrowed and a chill ran down her spine as she read her boyfriend’s breakup text again. Letting out a heavy sigh, she felt cheated. It’s not over till the fat lady sings, she thought optimistically. But who was she kidding? “No, I’ll do the right thing.” She would forgive and forget. After all, it was water under the bridge, and time to turn over a new leaf. She clucked her tongue and chirped aloud, “No use crying over spilled milk.”
Always submit electronically.
Use discretion in everything.
- Think twice before using social media to voice concerns or doubts about an agent/editor.
- Facebook can be a blessing and a curse – watch what you post.
- Don’t get too personal with your pitch – stay focused and economical with your words.
Agents receive submissions from all over the world – you are writing in your first language. No excuses.
- Proofread your work five days later.
- Use an insanely original title—it’s the first thing an agent/editor or even consumer will read.
- Title search on Amazon, B&N, Bowker’s Books In Print, and Christian Books In Print.
- Query first (one project at a time), and submit proposal when invited.
- Refer to any previous correspondence or conversations in follow-up emails.
- Assume that the publisher tracks all unsolicited material—submit one project per editor.
- Offer personal web or blog site information.
- Try to find an established author to endorse your book.
- Keep a hardcopy or electronic file of what you submit—agent, publisher, book title, date sent.
- Sign with an agent who believes in you and gets the bigger picture of where you want to go.
- Keep your fiction character-driven and the clichés to a minimum.
- Create a cover letter that is concise, articulate (non-cerebral), and intriguing.
- Attach a thorough book proposal (see template) and sample material.
Query and Cover Letter Formula
Query Letter is an introduction: Consists of a cordial greeting, book title, genre, word count, and the “hook.” Don’t forget to include a short author bio for nonfiction submissions. That’s it! [email]
Cover Letter accompanies a proposal: Begin with the “hook” first – either a question or an intriguing sentence to pique the agent/editor’s interest. Introduce the book title and the genre.
- Target Audience and market demand—what makes your book different/special than the ones similar to it already in print.
- Nonfiction – talk about your platform, i.e. the authority you have to write on the topic.
- Fiction – share your connections to let the agent know you have ample opportunities to sell your book.
- Mention previous works you’ve had published including magazine/web articles, blogs and visitor frequency, book contributions, book projects, and also any writers groups or contests you’ve been involved with.
- End your cover letter with a sincere “thank you for taking the time to have a look,” and attach the proposal via Word doc.
Follow-up with an email one month after the proposal was received by the agent. If you press for an answer, it will be no; however, many agents do not respond if they are not interested in the project.
Book Proposal Outline
Covered in previous blog entry (see above)
- Tell a publisher that you have a New York Times Bestseller on your hands—be humble.
- Hand write anything unless absolutely necessary—neatness does count.
- Submit a concept—written sample material is needed to assess your skills.
- Address your proposal to the “President” of the company.
- Phone the publisher or agency without initial contact (writer’s conf., email, etc.).
- Compare your book with one already in print by that publisher; competing material.
- Use an editor’s name unless you are absolutely sure it is correct.
- Type in all CAPS! No one likes being yelled at.
- Send disks or CD’s; there’s too many viruses out there—electronic submission only.
- Assume the publisher will use artwork or photos you include with your MS.
- Send the first draft of anything—remember, there’s no getting it back.
- Merely send a web link to your work—it looks lazy.
- Email a laundry list of projects you’re working on.
- Lose your cool with an agent; you’ll shoot yourself in the foot trying to get it in the door.
- Expect quick results—reviews require from 3 – 12 months depending on agent or editor.
- Send more than 50 sample pages initially—this is entirely adequate to make a decision.
- Don’t lose hope—every publisher has their own goals and objectives for their program.
- Don’t pose the following questions in initial. correspondence—it’s too presumptuous:
Concerns regarding book title, cover/artwork, royalties, publicity, author advance, book price, and other topics that jump the gun.
Emphasis on a word or thought.
Hone your skills by taking classes or joining a critique group.
Read New York Times & Publisher’s Weekly to keep up with industry trends.
Check ECPA.org for Top 50 Christian Bestsellers.
Pay attention to the culture and its relevancy to what you’re writing.
Build your personal library of books on writing (email me for a list).
Think of fresh, original ways to tell your story or deliver information.
Punctuation & grammar is important, so know your stuff.
Attend at least one writer’s conference each year.
Feed your enthusiasm by conversing with like minds.
Read the kind of books you want to write, and glean from those who have succeeded.
Consider starting with writing magazine articles or blogging—it’s a great way to build a platform.
Carve out time in your schedule to write consistently; all the best writers do.
Keep at it as long as you believe you are called to write and you enjoy doing it.
Personal Pet Peeves:
Sentences ending with!!!
Typos and misspellings
Too many sentences beginning with He, She, or I
Cliché laden text
Overuse of one or more words
Exaggerated characters/over-the-top physicality
Too much “telling” and not “showing”
Visible “cc” email addresses
Excessively long sentences & paragraphs
If you suspect you’re using a word or words repetitively, do a search w/ “Ctrl + F”, and “highlight all”.
If you tell me you’re a published author, I will Amazon.com you!