[This letter was edited slightly to keep the friend anonymous.]
I’m hoping you can answer a question for me. I have a friend who has written several booklets that are nonfiction on [various] topics. She says she has queried every agent in Writers Market and approached every publisher who does what she writes, and has received nothing but rejections. She’s also contacted every LDS publisher there is […]. She’s wondering what to do next. She says the rejections have all been complimentary, so I have to think that her writing must be at least a little bit good, but I’m wondering if maybe her content is just not selling well or what have you. The only thing I can think of would be to have her break her books up into articles and sell them to magazines, which actually might make her better money than royalties. If you say, $300 an article and you’d have to sell 300 books to get that, or more, articles might be the way to go.
At any rate, I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts.
Hi Beulah. Good to hear from you again. If your friend has that many rejections on the same project, then something is wrong with either her approach or her concept or possibly the quality of her writing.
I went through my company’s logs to see if I could figure out who your friend was, if we had been queried, and why her query/manuscript was rejected. I’m not absolutely certain, but if it’s the one I think it is, her query letter was not very compelling. Part of the notes said, “Not sure what exactly this is…”
If the query I’m thinking of is not your friend’s, this is still a good time to reinforce what a query letter should do. It needs to clearly indicate what the project is. It needs to clearly summarize or include a short synopsis of the plot. And, very important here, it needs to provide a marketing hook. When I finish reading a good query, I can immediately pigeon-hole it into a marketing slot–I know who would buy it, who would read it, how to classify it, how to differentiate it, and how to sell it. If I have questions in these areas, I’ll probably pass. So if you think it might be the query, have your friend submit it to a critique group or to several published authors to get help polishing it up.
The other problem might be the concept. “Booklet” can mean anything from a long greeting card to a small book. Depending on where it falls in that continuum, it might not be something that is selling right now. Booklets go in and out of fashion (kind of like skirt lengths for women). I can’t speak for other companies, but right now we’re just not in the market for anything less than 150 pages.
I think your magazine article idea is a good one, especially if she can sell it as a serialization or present herself as a regular columnist. I’m not aware of any good paying LDS magazines that are looking for that, but there are a lot of Christian magazines out there. She might also try local magazines or even newspapers. Papers don’t pay much, but if she’s never published before, that would give her credentials.