I never intended this to be a series of posts, let alone a three-part series. Amazing how things can take on a life of their own. I was asked if I could show what my pitch might look like for nonfiction and how much I would stress the platform, etc. Keep in mind this would be a pitch for non-narrative nonfiction. A narrative nonfiction piece, like a memoir, would be pitched more like a piece of fiction.
So here we go (and you’re really stretching my creativity with these).
My short pitch first:
Spring is finally here. I hope you were able to get some skiing in before the thaw began.
I’m really excited to be querying you today about an amazing new book by Mama Love, the premier authority on crazy brides and their equally controlling mothers. In addition to a web site that receives over 1 million unique hits a week, Mama Love has been featured in, among other things, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Today Show and on Howard Stern.
I would love to send you Mama Love’s newest book, Mama Love’s Guide to Surviving the Bride, a book that goes well beyond any other bridal book by discussing, in Mama Love’s folksy style, everything a bride needs to know about love, sex, flowers, and even unfaithful men.
I’m putting a tight turnaround time on this exciting new project. I have no doubt that Mama Love fans will go out in droves to buy the first book by the expert on weddings.
As soon as I hear from you I’ll be happy to email the proposal out.
Query with proposal attachment:
RESPOND BY: FEBRUARY 12, 2008
I’m thrilled to hear from you and get Mama Love’s proposal into your hands. As I already told you, www.mamalove.com receives nearly 1 million unique visitors each month and has become internationally known as the mother of the bride. In addition to an incredible web presence, Mama Love also receives constant press in such outlets as The Today Show, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, and Playboy.
After years of doling out advice through her web site, Mama Love has finally decided to put her words of wisdom into a book.
Mama Love’s Guide to Surviving the Bride goes well beyond other bridal books and gives the real scoop on what it takes to really survive this thing we call a wedding. Using her own brand of folksy wisdom, combined with straightforward—but it might hurt—honesty, Mama Love says it like it is and she’s a force to be reckoned with. Just like in her web site, Mama Love will advise brides on everything from sex on the wedding night to the dance with her father. She’ll give tips on dealing with drunk guests, rowdy guests, rude guests, and those you just didn’t want to invite in the first place. And lastly, Mama Love will do it with a caring wisdom that will make every bride want to send her an invitation to the wedding.
Attached you will find the proposal as well as a fabulous list of press information for Mama Love.
I can’t wait to hear what you think of Mama Love and her advice. I am asking all publishers to respond to me with initial interest by February 12.
In this case I did something a little different. Because I think this particular project is a hot commodity, I’ve put a “respond by” date on the material. This means that I expect all interested publishers to get back to me by a certain date with their interest. There are a couple of reasons why I do this, and there are reasons why I don’t do it with every submission I send out. I only put an RSVP on a proposal when I think it’s a truly hot commodity, something I suspect multiple publishers will express interest in, and I want editors to know that I know this is a hot commodity. I am cautious, however, to limit my RSVPs. Editors know when they’re being scammed, and no one appreciates an agent who feels the need to auction or RSVP every book simply because they think it’s the best way to get through submissions quickly. In addition, a quick response isn’t always the best response. Sometimes having a book that an editor likes, but doesn’t love, sit around for a while can benefit both author and editor. You never know when suddenly someone in-house asks for just that book or when a slot on the schedule opens up for just that type of book. If the book was rushed to rejection you’ve lost out. If the book was put into the “think about it” pile you might win in the end.
As you can see, my most important factor with this book was to stress the author’s platform. Wedding books are a dime a dozen (as are many nonfiction subjects), so what makes this book shine? The author. From there I lead into the book. How is this book different? I focused on those things I thought made it stand out—rude guests and sex talk. In all likelihood that editor is not even going to read past Mama Love’s platform. That’s enough to make him want to take a look. From there, though, the proposal is going to have to stand on its own.