Writing a query letter that hooks an agent or acquisitions editor for your non-fiction book concept is the golden key that opens the door to publishing. So how do you hook ’em?

Think of your query letter as a sales pitch for the book. Accept the fact that those who read your initial correspondence are trained, so to speak, to judge books by their covers and make their  first impressions based on marketability. As an author you can make their job easier by preparing a winning pitch.

Publishers, once they have signed an author on contract to deliver a manuscript, will produce a “tip sheet” to sell your title to distributors through their sales reps. Writing a query letter that models itself on what information the publisher will use to promote your book is an effective strategy.

Does your pitch provide a current or contemporary hook that pulls in the reader by the relevance of your book concept?

Does your pitch demonstrate your authority as an author?

Do you compare your book to others in the same genre and/or subject area and make your approach distinctive?

Do you communicate clearly and concisely a synopsis of the narrative?

Do you connect your book concept with marketing to its audience?

Do you leave the reader wanting to know more because you have a compelling story to tell? Tease the reader with the most newsworthy aspects and/or the most surprising results or conclusions.

In short, your job as an author is to pitch your book concept highlighting its marketing features.

Go ahead and try out your pitch on friends and family. Pretend you have an elevator ride with an agent or acquisition editor to convince them they need to read your proposal. Imagine you have to sell your concept to Hollywood and only have 30 seconds of a producer’s attention.

Hook ’em with relevance, currency, significance, and import. Tell ’em the answers to “so what” and “who cares” questions. Polish that pitch.

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Other Publications by author-clients of Swenson Book Development LLC

Saadia Zahidi
Nation Books, January 2018

Larry Scheckel
Tumblehome Learning, December 2017

Ann Marie Ackermann
Kent State University Press, September 2016

Linda J. Spielman
Countryman Press, July 2017

Carolyn Porter
Skyhorse Publishing, June 2017

Laurel Guy
Schiffer Publications, December 2016

Ira Rabois
Rowman & Littlefield, November 2016