Book Proposals

Rejection Hurts Us, Too

My office receives many submissions every week and we must send out many rejections right away. Those aren’t so painful. Rejected manuscripts include:

1.) Game plans on how to pick up more and hotter women.

2.) Horror novels.

3.) Stream of consciousness meanderings.

Others are near misses. The near misses are by far the most painful. They include:

1.) The talented fiction author missing the market in time period.

2.) The talented fiction author missing the market in setting.

3.) The talented nonfiction author with a great idea but not enough platform and no discernible way to build one in that area.

4.) The talented nonfiction author with a great idea in a topic that’s too crowded with authors with huge platforms too difficult to overcome.

The good news? A talented author willing to revamp and try us again has another chance. When we say “you are talented” (and we do say this) we mean it. If you are interested in us, be sure to revamp and follow up with a new idea. Turning that “no” into a “yes” will be great news for us all!

Your turn:

Have you ever gone back to an agent with a new idea? What happened?

Have you instead tried many agents with the same idea until you found representation?

Either way, tell us your story.

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Does Genre Matter?

Earlier this month two literary heavyweights discussed the issue of “Genre” and whether or not it should exist in its current form. Read Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro’s discussion in the New Statesman. It all started because Ishiguro’s new novel Buried Giant is not presented as a Fantasy novel despite …

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Setting Yourself Apart

Unfortunately, even though I’d love to represent each writer I’m fond of and enjoy hanging out with, I can’t represent everyone for a variety of reasons. That’s okay. CBA has many agents and authors, and God has a plan for all of us. But let”s say you hope your proposal rises to the top …

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Are You Pitch Perfect?

A critical key to landing a book deal is the presentation of your idea in such a way that the editor or agent is completely sold out on the concept. In musical terms, perfect pitch is the rare talent to name or pick out a note without having any reference …

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When Your Book Becomes Personal

I wish every writer could see what we see as agents and editors with regard to proposals. I wish they could experience the sheer variety of book ideas presented at writers conferences and through the submission process. It is breathtaking. And sometimes heartbreaking. I wrote down a selection of the …

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Wanted: Authors (Apply Within)

A book proposal sent to an agent is like applying for a job as an author. Comparing how applying for a job and pitching an agent for your book proposal are similar is my task today. I think some authors believe that pitching an agent is a mysterious process involving …

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The Great Slot Mystery

Every traditional publishing company has a personality or focus that defines them and their product. Usually that personality or focus is determined by past success. They also know how many books they can effectively publish during a year. Combining focus and capacity, you have the beginnings of a publishing strategy. …

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Is Timing Everything in Publishing?

I know how hard it is to wait for publication. I thought my first book would be published posthumously. People still laugh when I tell them this. And you can believe me when I still say this only half-jokingly. Ten years ago, publishing moved as slowly as a Model T …

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Time Travel?

Most people find it astounding how long it takes for things to happen in traditional publishing. Even after spending months or even years writing, an author waits for weeks or months to hear from an agent, who if they agree to work together, wait weeks and months for publishers to …

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