How to approach an editor or an agent?

Before you approach an editor or an agent, do the following:
Get your manuscript printed out or typed in double line spacing, with margins of about 1.25" on all sides, and with serially numbered pages. Make sure that you print or type only on one side of the paper.

The “cover” or “title page” should clearly contain the following:

  • Books name
  • The author's name and contact information
  • The word count
  • The page count and the chapter count.

Tip: To calculate the word count is simple in MS Word. Just go to: Tools > Word Count

If you have a typed book, you could count the number of words in each of ten densely packed pages, average it out per page and multiply this by the total number of pages.

Editors need this information about word count, page count etc. before they can finally take a decision on your manuscript.

If you are using a Word Processor, you might consider inserting your name and the novel's name on alternate “Headers”. Not really necessary. It just looks a bit better and more professional. To do this in Ms Word, you just have to go to View > Header & Footer

Do not “file” the manuscript in any type of file. Publishers prefer manuscripts reaching them in “loose-leaf” form. So, at best, place it in an easily open able folder when you send it to them. And don't worry. Manuscripts survive!

Make a few photocopies of the manuscript and keep them ready for dispatch. Make a few extra copies of the first three chapters (or the best three chapters, whichever you prefer), since many publishers / literary agents would like to see this before asking to see the complete manuscript.

After you complete all these initial steps, there comes the most important part of the whole process. Writing the query letter!

What is query letter?

There are thousands of people who want to write books. There are thousands of people who want to have their books published. Because of this, publishers as well as agents are very very busy people!

They receive requests from many people to get their book published. Instead of going though so many books and then deciding which to publish and which not to publish, they devised a system of “query letters.”

Before sending your complete book or manuscript to the agent or publisher, you first send the agent or publisher a query letter.

The idea of the query letter is that after reading the query letter, the agent or the publishers gets an idea what your book is about. It they find it worth publishing they shall ask you to send them the manuscript or just the first three chapters.

This means that if you do not write a good query letter, your book will not even be read. If you query letter is not impressive enough, your brilliant masterpiece will not even be considered.

So, you have to write a brilliant query letter! If you don’t your book will surely not be published. We have tried to guide you though the entire process of writing the “perfect” query letter in detail here.

Next - Do’s & Don’ts of a “perfect” query letter >>

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Table Of Contents

  1. How to publish a book? – Introduction
  2. How to approach an agent or editor?
  3. Do’s & Don’ts of writing a “perfect” query letter
  4. How to write a “perfect” query letter?
  5. Book publishing companies, agents & editors in India
  6. What happens after you send the query letter?