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Writing Books/The final 'hit'



Dear Liz,

Thank you for your answear. A high rate has been sent.

Just because I am in process of completion I'd like to make clear every parts of my 'proposal package'.

I think these are my final questions are waiting to be answered:

Can I take your time to help me again?

For the Manuscript
1. What is the double dashes (--) for in the maniscript?

I used simple dashes ex.:

- Frank...what are you doing? - he asks angrily.

How should the example above look like?

--Frank...what are you doing?--he asks angrily. (Is it the appropriate
form or what esle?)

Can I use colons, semicolons; brackets and write some words in capital
(ex.: STOP IT! STOP IT !) in the text?

2. What should I write in the haeder of the SYNOPSIS?

XXXX (full name)          Page 1
Synopsis of XXX


Is it a good header for a synopsis?

The Agencies accepts unsolicited submissions, they require a synopsis (they do not say what sort of: one page or a detailed one) and sample chapters (one of them don not stated how many sample chapters).

Should I sak both agencies to make clearer their request?

I was about to travel to that city where the agencies are and give my submission personally. Am I right that it was a bad idea? No one likes 'uninvited people' in spite of a pre-arranged appointment with them.

The last on (I hope): How should I send the submissions in order to know them they are in safe and arrive properly in time and to the addressee?

Thank you very much for your help in advance.



The text above is a follow-up to ...


Dear Liz,

First I say 'Thank you for your previous help in connection with to build a synopsis'.

Now I am working on the querry letter and need just a little help.

I know that the first paragraphe is a kind of brief 'synopsis' to hook the editor's attention. The second is a technical and marketing part from the book/ author and the last one is an offer to send the completed manuscript upon request.  

I am not a pro writer and this book is my very first one. But how should I start the first paragraphe of the querry if I do not want to emphasise this fact in it? I'd like to do it professional.

What is your recommended introductory sentence with I ought to start my querry? The following sounds trivial to my mind: 'I have just completed a manuscript that I think you may be interested in publishing." (and countinue with the brief of the syinopsis: It is about...)

Thank you for your help in advance.


Hi Tibor:

I'm glad to see you are forging ahead with your book!

Definitely do not use the sentence you proposed in your question to start your query letter.  Instead:

I propose for your consideration a (insert the genre of the book) titled (and put in the title).

Then your synopsis paragraph and make sure that's a sales pitch!

Then your unique qualifications for writing this book.

Then:  I have a proposal ready to send.

And that's it!

Good luck!

Liz Aleshire
The Confident Collector's Guide to Quilts, Avon Books

Hi Tibor:

More good questions!

1.  I always use just the single dash when I use a dash.  I'm not sure what the proper grammatical use of the single or double dash is, so I use it very, very sparingly.  In the example you listed it appears you're using the dash in place of quotation marks.  Neither option is acceptable.  For your example it would be:
"Frank...what are you doing?" he said angrily.
You can use any grammatical notation (caps, brackets, parentheses, etc) any time you want to as long as you use them grammatically correct.  Check your favorite local or on-line book store for a grammar book that explains how to use them.

2.Your page header should be positioned at the left margin and look like this:

Your Last Name/Key word(s) from title/Page #
Then, centered, a third down the page, put the word synopsis.
3.  If they aren't specific about how much they want for sample material you could call and ask, or, send the industry norm which is three chapters or the first fifty pages which ever is shorter.

4.  And if you have an appointment with these agencies, by all means go to the city!  I wouldn't advise hand delivery if you haven't made an appointment.  That would be just dropping in unvited.  But if you have an appointment, go for it!

5.  Tibor, trust the U.S. Postal Service.  Just send the materials first class.  Many authors today include a stamped, self-addressed post card that the agency can send back to let you know they received.  But, keep in mind, that is one more thing that busy person has to do.  And never send over-night insured or certified unless told to do so by the agency.  Nothing screams 'beginner' more than making someone at the agency sign a postal receipt.  I know you're concerned that your manuscript might get lost but that's very rare for the old USPS!

Good luck!

Liz Aleshire
Private Lives of Ministers' Wives, New Horizon Press

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Liz Aleshire


What is a book proposal and why do I need one? Do I need a book proposal for both nonfiction and fiction books? How do I write a book proposal? What are the required components of a book proposal? What is an overview? What is a synopsis? How do I find out what other books are available on my topic so I can make my book different? How do I pitch to an agent/publisher? What's a query letter? What's a 30-second commercial?


I am the author of four nonfiction books: Private Lives of Ministers' Wives (with Rev. Sherry Taylor,New Horizon Press, New Jersey, 1991)and currently working on a second edition; Bugs: Stingers, Suckers, Sweeties, Swingers (a FRanklin Watts Frist Book, Chicago, 1993); The Confident Collector Identification and Price Guid to Quilts (with Kathleen Barach, Avon Books, NY, 1992); and, Official Price Guide to Quilts 2nd edition(with Kathleen Barach, Random House, NY, 2003.) I've taught How to Write the Book Proposal for the past ten years at the week long International Women's Writing Guild annual summer conference, and, at the Manchester Community College Continuing Education program. I've taught in many local continuing education programs in central Connecticut. Five authors have sold books using my methods for writing the book proposal. I have spoken at the Big Apple Conference, an IWWG event held in NYC; both Connecticut chapters of the Romance Writer's of America other writing conferences

Internation Women's Writing Guild, past associate member American Society of Journalists and Authors

Books for New Horizon Press. NJ; Franklin Watts (Now Scolastic)Danbury, CT; Avon Books, NYC; and, Random House, NYC

B.A in Economics from the University of Connecticut

Past/Present clients
Carren Strock, author Married Women Who Love Women; Doris Larson, travel writer, Ohio; MaryLou Streznewsi author Gifted Grownups.

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