Many people wonder if it is better to send a query letter with a brief description of the book and ask permission to send the whole proposal, or to send the whole proposal unannounced.
In standard reference books, agents and publishers often say they are willing to accept unsolicited manuscripts.
But does this give you the green light to send everything straight away or should you still submit a query letter in the first instance?
As a general rule, the standard ‘submission package’ that most agents and publishers accept is a book proposal plus sample chapters for non-fiction and a synopsis plus sample chapters for fiction – both of which are sent with a good covering letter.
However, there are often individual requirements which are specified by agents and publishers regarding their preferences for seeing new material from writers.
Therefore, I strongly recommend that you always check what those individual requirements are before sending anything out to anyone.
You can do this by carefully reading the guidelines which appear on the websites of the agent or publisher concerned or research this information in industry standard reference books such as The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook.
You can also call the agency or publisher concerned to ask about their requirements, and certainly if you are not sure, a quick phone call will usually deliver up the exact information you need.
There are occasions when a strong query letter sent in isolation of the rest of the submission package is requested, and often this request will come from agents rather than publishers.
If that is the case, then of course you need to put all of your energy into producing a superb letter which also specifies what other material is available to see if the agent wants to see more.
When it says that ‘unsolicited manuscripts are accepted’, it doesn’t usually mean that you should send the whole manuscript in straight away.
Most agents and publishers prefer to see sample chapters before making any commitment to look at a whole manuscript.
However, if your whole manuscript is available to see – as it should be for fiction writers – you can explain that this is the case in your covering letter.
The agent or publisher concerned then knows that they can request more material from you if they are interested to take your project on to the next stage.
In summary then, if you are not sure whether you have interpreted the guidelines correctly, do take the time to find out before sending anything out to anyone.
By doing so, you can be absolutely confident that you are presenting the right material in the right way to the right people.
So how does this reflect your experiences of submitting material to publishing professionals?
I’ll look forward to reading your comments below and sharing more tips if you have any further questions related to this topic?