A New Kind of Query

With the last of the seven books in the Josh Haman series under contract to published this fall, I’ve started on a new four book series with Derek Almer as the main character. The first novel is called Flight of the Pawnee and is ready to go to a publisher.

I’d like to get on with a larger publisher who has distribution muscle and would, at least the theory goes, generate more sales (and royalties). The larger publishers and some middle size ones “only accept represented work,” i.e. brought to them by an agent.

Finding agents interested in the Flight of the Pawnee’s genre – espionage thriller – takes research and each query has to be tailored to the agent’s requirements. All ask for roughly the same information but with a different format, sequence and emphasis. Some even have a form one fills out.

Some agents will respond to all queries, the majority note on their website that they will respond only if they are interested. Sending out queries is akin to sending emails into a black hole.

Much to my surprise, I get a terse email from an agent wanting to set up a phone call. It was one that asked me to fill out a form in which there was a question – What other manuscripts are you working on?” There were five blanks.

Rather than list the three other books in the Derek Almer series, I included the second book in the series, three stand alone novels and a non-fiction work called Gold and Silver Wings – Tales from Three Generations of Military Aviators. It’s a compilation of stories from my dad’s, my son’s and my aviation careers that began in the 1930s and continues to this day.

In the call, she wants to read Flight of the Pawnee but is more interested in Gold and Silver Wings. “How much of it is written?”

“About 25% but I have a detailed outline and a table of contents.”

“Great, I’d like a book proposal.”

Color me speechless and stunned. I didn’t know what to say other than sure. She sent me a book proposal she used to sell a book on the end of the World War II in the Pacific to use as a template.

Having never written a non-fiction book proposal, I was excited to read one that worked. It was sixty pages long! And, she wanted mine in two weeks. Challenge accepted. To be honest, I thought mine would be about twenty or thirty pages long.

It looked to be pretty straightforward and started writing. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Rather than just include the first two chapters, I decided that excerpts from several chapters would present the material better. Lo and behold, the finished document is 59 pages!

Here’s hoping that she’ll like it.

Marc Liebman

May 2018

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