After a Query Letter is initially sent to your literary agent or publisher and a full Nonfiction Book Proposal is requested, some will let you use your initial Query Letter as a “Cover Letter” for your long book proposal. Yet others will require a separate “Cover Letter” to be inserted behind your Cover/Title Page.
NOTE: insert a copy of your original Query Letter right behind your Cover Letter as part of your Nonfiction Book Proposal submission. Literary agents and publishers will appreciate your thoughtfulness, because it saves time and they will not have to dig through hundreds of submissions to locate your original query submission.
A Cover Letter should accompany any submission to a publishing professional, whether it’s your manuscript, book proposal, article, images or even a self-published book. Never send in any material without this letter.
The 4-Part Standard Cover Letter for a Nonfiction Book Proposal
Here are the elements that Goldilocks includes in your cover letter to be transmitted as part of your nonfiction book proposal submission. Simply click/tap on each link and be taken further down the page for a more detailed explanation of each part of this Cover Letter.
- PART 1: Introductory Elements, the Greeting and “elevator pitch”
- PART 2: Further Details About the Essence of Your Proposed Book
- PART 3: Audience/Genre/Promotional elements
- Optional Paragraph: “anything New to report”
- PART 4: The Closing, Summing It All Up
- Sample cover letter for a nonfiction book proposal
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PART 1: Introductory Elements, The Greeting and “elevator pitch”
The very first sentence in your first paragraph should state that you are sending requested material. This way, the recipient knows that you’ve been pre-screened and that the literary agent or publisher is already interested in considering your work.
You might say something like this…
“Thank you for the opportunity to submit a Nonfiction Book Proposal…”
The next sentences refer to what is called the “elevator pitch” which consists of a couple of lines that capture the essence of your proposed book. This is a concise and targeted summary of the book in just a couple of sentences.
Imagine yourself riding in an elevator and someone inquires about your book and you have just a minute or less to tell them, “Well my book is about…”
The closing sentences in Part 1 are a brief summary containing a few lines that describe your book in a bit more detail. At this stage you are simply showing the literary agent/publisher the type of book you have written and giving them a chance to see if it will fit into their current marketing plan.
PART 2: Further Details about the Essence of Your Proposed Book
Compose a few sentences about your project, using the title once. This should not be taken directly from your previously submitted Query Letter. The information can be the same, but use different verbiage. Remember, be brief. The purpose of this paragraph is to jar the recipient’s memory of what your proposed book is about.
Further explain your main focus or topic…
One suggestion is to describe the Problem, give a Solution, and how it can be applied in your reader’s lives.
PART 3: Audience/Genre/Promotional elements
This should be a brief summary about the audience for your material, move on to highlight your promotion and perhaps include why you are the right author for the project. Keep this as short as possible.
Tell why your book is distinctive, who will read it.
For example, (Targeted age group…adult, teen, youth)
Next, point out what’s fresh, new, different about your proposed book than others with similar topical content. One suggestion would be, for your intended genre, read a number of recent books in the same sphere as your own to familiarize yourself with your ideal market.
The aim of this paragraph is to present your book as a viable product. Remember that you are trying to sell it as a tool from which publishers/agents can make a bit of cash. Include titles of two other books that have been published using your concept.
The representative titles are important and should not be missed. The best way to decide on these is to think what readers of your book may also read. The examples will give the publisher/agents a good indication whether your book is the kind of product they can publish/sell.
It may also be advisable to include statistics of potential markets where possible. If you have access to specialist figures then these certainly should be included.
However, don’t include figures that are either educated guesses or approximations UNLESS they are specific to your book and something the publisher/agent will not be able to find themselves.
Optional Paragraph: “anything new to report”
This short little paragraph will discuss important details that can support your project that have arisen since you sent in your original Query Letter, such as a news story, new research results, a big name endorsement of your work, etc. Or it can just be some tantalizing bit of information you didn’t include in your query, but which would be effective here to further sell your project.
PART 4: The Closing, Summing It All Up
The information that should be included here should be…
- Has the manuscript been completed, if not when would be the projected date when it can be submitted?
- Approximate word count of finished book. Don’t indicate how many pages it will be as different publishing formats will make this data rather useless.
- Short pertinent biographical details, primary reason why you should be the person to write your proposed book
- Is your proposal a “simultaneous submission” meaning that you are sending your book proposal to multiple literary agents/publishers?
State your Call-To-Action by explaining what you want…
- that you are requesting representation if writing to a literary agent
- seeking publication if writing to an editor in a publishing house
The last sentence should include a “thank you,” just as in your original Query Letter.
Some Quick Formatting Notes
This Cover Letter should be kept to one page single spaced with one inch margins on all sides. Use Times New Roman or similar font with 12 pitch type for easy reading.
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Sample Cover Letter for a Nonfiction Book Proposal
NOTE: Pay special attention to placement of elements in this Sample Cover Letter as well as capitalization and punctuation specifics.
LINDA ODUBAYO THOMPSON
3 Steven Drive #6
Ossining, NY 10562
October 10, xxxx
Mr. John Frost
The Frost Literary Agency
New York, NY 10020
Dear Mr. Frost:
I am presently looking for a literary agent. After reading some of the books you have represented particularly (insert titles and author names of books that the agent has represented,) I feel that my financial book for parents, Helping Your Children Become Financially Responsible, would fit your interests.
My premise is this, most children will leave their home upon graduation from high school with very little training in money management. As a result, they are likely to experience many years of struggle and frustration. The purpose of this book is to equip parents to teach their children the attitudes, principles, and skills they need in order to enjoy a life free of financial hassle and heartache.
I have a B.A. in Accounting from Pace University (1978.) Soon after graduation, I started my own business as an Accountant and Financial Planner. My business has grown and now have 250 clients being supported by 35 employees.
Enclosed is a complete Nonfiction Book Proposal for your review, along with two sample chapters as outlined in your submission guidelines. This is my first book.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have as well and am also open to feedback and would be grateful for the opportunity to explore how we might work together to find an appropriate publisher.
Linda Odubayo Thompson
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Goldilocks has created her Methodology/Process for the next component in the Nonfiction Book Proposal process and you can go there now…
Goldilocks welcomes any questions you may have compiling your Nonfiction Book Proposal and if you feel that you need help writing this most important document, just reach out to her…
E-Mail her: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pick up the Phone: 914-944-1474
Goldilocks Wishes You Good Luck with Your Nonfiction Book Proposal Submission!