It all starts with a query
(Allow 3 - 6 weeks for this phase)
You have written a most wonderful book that you are certain will top the New York Times Best Seller list within weeks of publication. Now all you have to do is find someone to publish it for you.
Regardless of your status -- published author or new writer in search of a dream -- you need to get the attention of a publisher. You can do some research to find out which publisher accepts what genre and perhaps even the name of an editor who handles those books. Why not just send your query direct to the publisher and cut out the agent?
The only answer is that you can, and some authors have success doing just that. A lot of people do it -- and a lot of rejection letters are written. Publishers just don't have the staff to review all of the queries that are received every day.
But, it does all start with the query and we encourage you to review the material located here as you prepare your query to send to us or any other agent.
Generally, one of two outcomes can be anticipated:
* Your query will not quite hit the mark and will be rejected. For us, 90% of all queries we receive are rejected either for not following instructions, not paying attention or because the market for that particular genre is not presently active--or perhaps the writing is not quite polished to a high sheen.
* Your query will capture the reviewer who will see some potential in the subject, the style and the author.
In the first case, understand that the rejection is a rejection of your work, not of you. Polish your work and try again. In the second case you will probably be asked to submit a proposal--a chapter-by-chapter synopsis, at least two sample chapters and perhaps a biography or curriculum vitae (CV) for technical books and a marketing plan.
You've got our attention
(Plan on 6 - 8 weeks for this phase of the process)
A chapter-by-chapter synopsis differs from the synopsis that was contained in your query and with the synopsis that you will eventually have to write for submission to a publisher. For this it is expected that you will take every chapter and give a brief summary of the contents. This can be a number of pages long and is used, in conjunction with the sample chapters, to determine if the story line is workable and interesting. Each chapter summary should tell who is involved in that chapter and what action takes place. It usually takes a 3 to 5-sentence paragraph for each chapter.
Sample proposals will include chapter one and at least one other chapter of your choosing. Choose wisely and provide only the number of chapters requested (unless you can include a sound reason for sending more).
A biography will tell us who we are dealing with. What you put in a biographical sketch tells us a lot about you, your philosophy and even your native writing skills.
We will ask for a curriculum vitae, or CV, if you are writing something very technical or which requires a working knowledge of a specific discipline. If you are writing along these lines you already know what a CV is and probably have one all prepared and ready to go.
This phase has three distinct outcomes:
* On taking a further look at the work and getting a sample of your writing we may determine that it is not the type of project that we feel would have a reasonable chance for success in the current environment. We thank you for your interest and suggest that you look elsewhere for representation.
* A review indicates that the genre is one that is currently open, the story line is solid and worthy, but the writing is not up to what we think you should be capable of doing. In nearly every such case we get a note back telling us that the author knew it wasn't quite ready but was anxious to get it published. There are no shortcuts.
* We are excited by what we have read and are aware that certain publishers are in the market for something like this.
In the first instance we will probably bring our involvement with your project to an end. We could well be wrong and would hope that you continue to refine your book and seek other representation. Few things are so subjective and we can make mistakes.
Under the second outcome we may well ask you to rework the concept or reconsider the story line and get back to us with an improved product. In this case, please query again but mention that we have seen it before in a less perfected form.
Coming to the very best outcome we will ask for a manuscript.
(This may take another eight weeks or more)
Your manuscript (mss) must be in an acceptable form. Rebecca provides a discussion of manuscript formats at this link.
As we read manuscripts we keep a pen or pencil handy and we mark them up whenever we see something that is confusing, wrong or which causes us to think (both good and bad).
If we decline representation after reading the manuscript we will usually give a detailed list of reasons and, more than likely, return the manuscript with its notes so that you can consider any suggestions that we may have made. Often we will provide an option for re-submission after suggested work is done.
Infrequently, we find something that really grabs our attention and holds it through the entire manuscript. In those cases we will consult other RPLG editors for their opinion and then we will take it to Rebecca with our recommendation. Rebecca makes the final decision on representation.
(This is all part of the manuscript time frame)
Each of the editors is authorized, at any time, to decline to represent an author. On the other hand, the decision to offer to represent a book is entirely Rebecca's. It is the job of the editors to explain why the piece would be a good addition to our list of active projects. Most likely Rebecca will also read the manuscript.
Rebecca is currently the only member of our group who contacts and deals with publishers. It is her contacts and her standing in the industry that make us a viable agency. For that reason we must sell all products to her first. It works very well for us.
Should Rebecca decline, despite the best efforts of the editors, you will receive an email from the editor to whom your manuscript was directed. It will most likely contain recommendations much like a rejection at the previous stage would contain. We will also return the manuscript with notes if requested.
Should Rebecca agree, you will hear from her with a discussion of the contract and what is needed to create the necessary relationship.
So what happens now?
We will work with you to refine the proposal which should include a query letter, a synopsis, a chapter-by-chapter outline, a final manuscript and a biography or CV as well as a marketing plan (sound familiar?)
Rebecca will make contact with publishers and provide you with rejections as they are received. She will also tell you when a publisher expresses interest.
We will require of you both patience and cooperation. When a publisher asks for something not already in our working file we will come to you and expect that you will produce whatever is requested in a timely manner.
The Client Development Team
Rebecca Pratt Literary Group