View Full Version : My query letter was accepted!

January 27th, 2008, 07:58 AM
OK.. real big novice here!!
Something came from me recently that put itself down on paper. Its not a novel, more a guide, practical spiritual self help kinda thing.. it was from my heart.
so I contact llewellyn pub. and sent my query letter.. it was accepted and I was asked to send in my manuscript. The catch is this. My wordcount is very small. I know its small. This is a simple concept, simply given. This piece came from me meaning to be small but powerful (imho). So anyway, the guy at llewelyn says, it would be accepted as a proposal, and if they felt it worth it to move forward Iwas submitting it with the understanding that I could produce XXX amount of words on the topic.
If I do that, I feel the entire concept would be overburdened and lost as the wordcount they are proposing is almost five times what I have. I don't have an agent. Have never written a book before. And am not sure what to do. Do I stay true to what the piece is, do I compromise it in order to get it published... or do I submit it and trust that they see the value in it as the way it was intended to be???

January 27th, 2008, 11:49 AM
I'm not an author/writer...but I am an avid reader and a few things popped into my head. Having read several "self-help" style books and noting their style and formatting....these questions come to mind:

1. Is this "self-help" thing something anyone can do?
2. Can this "thing" be applied to people outside the realm of "metaphysical"? If no....that's ok...it can still go through the following.......
3. If yes, can you get people to do it and tell you of their "previous life" and their "after doing this life"
4. If yes, then you could potentially "pad" the original work with "case study" stories in order to show the "self-help" in "practical application/results" light.

Also, if this is in a "step 1, step 2, step 3" type format, you can break it down into each individual step, get people to do that step, tell of their life before and after said step and "pad" that way. In doing so, you can remain true to the work, increase your word count and show this in "real life practical application".

Good Luck!

January 27th, 2008, 03:58 PM
One thing to keep in mind is the editors and publisher will often cut a manuscript in half by the time they are ready to publish it. So they kinda want you to over-write a book, it gives them lots to work with and pair down as they please.
It would be better to send your book in bigger than you want it to be, because once you sell your book to a publisher, they will cut and edit as they please anyhow. If you just give them the bare minimum of what you want to see in the book, they will either not accept it or cut it down even further and you won't have your complete version published.
Remember you will not have a final say in the final version to be published anyways.

January 27th, 2008, 04:28 PM
Maybe this isn't a book per se, maybe it's a feature article for a magazine like Pan Gaia, Sage Woman or Circle Network News.

Also consider other publishers like Wieser, NewPage, Destiny or Bear Pond/Inner Traditions.

Good luck with your idea!

January 27th, 2008, 04:42 PM
Well I'm working with publishers on my 2 and 3 books right now... sooo I can tell you only my own experience.
first every publisher is unique, had heir own visiion of the final product, and don't really know what you, the writer have got... so usually from proposal to finished product.. thing can get very different.

I send in stuff.. 1/3 gets cut out... then next week they ask for a 1/3 more if I've got it... usually I give back about half new and half of "I think ya should have kept this" and we kinda wiggle it in to being something that's essentially a collaboration.. on my 3rd book the publisher wanted EVERYTHING... I thougth she was insane for about 6 months... then she cut it down to a reasonable amount... she just wanted a 'global view' shock of shocks.. she knew what she was doing... out of 'everything' she built a book I never would have put together myself... but I REALLY like it! so,.. be prepared to ride a lng a bit and trust them at their craft.

however, I've NEVER been asked to add for the sake of adding... this is where you have to develo a relationship with the publisher.... be flexable, patient and good humoured but get really specific about what they want.... and be specific about what YOU want...

ie..."My vision when I was writting this was that it be a pocket guide.... (or what ever) an I'm concerned expanding it will dilute the message"

they may well come back with.. "There isn't much out there on X and we really want more just on that... you don't have to pad everything.. but could you speak more on that subject..."

February 1st, 2008, 03:16 AM

I'm about to sign my 12th book contract and I have quite a bit of experience with Llewellyn. So hopefully, this will be of some help to you.

First and foremost, follow your heart on this. What do you want more: a book published by a publishing house or the concept you have right now? Your original concept can always become an article (as already suggested) or book that is self-published or put out by a much smaller publishing house.

If your concept can be expanded without losing integrity, consider how you might do that. Lili had some good ideas for this. Think of it as a class or a book written to help people understand your idea better.

If you can do this, follow the submission guidelines on the website to the letter. Do not overwrite your book. Write it to the word count asked for by your editor, give or take 500 words. It can be a challenge in the beginning but it's a good exercise and it gets much easier with practice. Llewellyn doesn't often ask for filler just to take up space, nor do they cut your manuscript down. What they will do is send it to a reviewer for comments and recommendations. If they still feel it is a worthwhile project, they will send you those comments and ask you to rework any parts that were problematic for the reviewer. What they are looking for is a good book that will sell well.

Llewellyn, like most publishers, does insist on editorial control and that includes title and cover decisions. However, it is not true that you have no control over content. Most of the big choices over that will be made before you sign the contract. If it doesn't work for you, you don't sign. After 5 books with them and countless annuals articles, I have never been coerced into producing a book that strayed very far from my original concept.

One important thing to keep in mind is that, once a contract is signed, your book is no longer just your baby. It is the product of a business partnership and your publisher is most definitely a business. Many people can be unhappy with some of the changes, like title. I know I was very upset when they changed the title of my first book. But if you develop a good relationship with your editor and are reasonable in what you expect, you can get a lot more through the way you want it.

But honestly, you need to do what is right for you. Do what you love and hold your integrity. The rest will follow as it should.

Kristin Madden

February 1st, 2008, 03:47 PM
First, congrats on your success thus far! (And welcome to the wonderful world of pagan publishing ;) )

Here's my two cents; keep in mind that I'm very strongly in favor of small presses and am an editor, layout tech and promotions manager for one (Immanion Press).

Bigger publishers (regardless of genre) rely primarily on Barnes and Noble and Borders for sales. This means that to an extent what they publish has to cater to the "lowest common denominator"--by which I mean it has to appeal to the most people. Part of this is because B&N and Borders have a broader audience, not just pagans, and the books need to be potentially appealing to nonpagans who are curious. Additionally, in order to stay in business these publishers need to sell as many copies of their print run as possible before remaindering (authors don't get royalties on remainders, to my understanding).

So this means that they'll have to tailor your work, to an extent, to that market. Look at the format and style of books from whatever publisher you want to work with, and decide whether that's what you want your book to turn into. (This isn't necessarily a *bad* thing.)

I specifically chose to go small-press because I wanted to retain the integrity of my work. I specialize in intermediate to advanced material on odd niche topics that many publishers might not touch anyway due to not enough potential sales. The downside is that I don't get nearly the sales that I would with a bigger publisher; I sell a few hundred books a year. However, it's worth it to me to have control over my content, as well as to be able to choose my cover art and title and other such things. (In fact, I commission different artists for the cover art and interior illustrations for my books to give them a chance to get their work in a book.)

So it's really up to you. It's not that you can't have a book you're happy with with a bigger publisher. Just be aware of what you want your book to be, and what each publisher can offer you. If you have any doubts, ask before you sign the contract.

And good luck!

February 1st, 2008, 05:18 PM
CongaRats! I hope that's an excellent omen of good things to follow.

February 1st, 2008, 05:55 PM
Congratulations!!! You have officially gone one step ahead of where I always wanted to be.

Much luck!

February 1st, 2008, 07:09 PM
Also, not sure if you caught it or not, but the second link in my signature is the Pagan and Occult Author Resource Page. This is a free resource my husband Taylor and I maintain to help other authors, especially those who are just starting out. If you go to the Resources and Communities section, there are some online communities/listserves specifically for pagan authors. They're really good for getting advice, too!

February 3rd, 2008, 09:14 AM
Many many thanks to all of you for your responses and well wishes...
KristinMadden and Lupabitch I feel are on the right track for me.. it's not so much about the huge sales (although wouldn't that be nice :smile:)
it is about what the book has to say.. what my soul needed to write..
Artiste-Lili, I have sent the manuscript to a girlfriend who is going through a really rough time right now for her to peruse as she recoups from surgery.. I am anxious to see how she responds to it because the concepts set forth in it could very well help her deal with what life has handed her right now if that is what is meant for her..
even though I am pagan, this 'guide' is set to no particular path and is definitely not religion based, it really is a simple concept that can be applied to anybody as long as they are open to a spiritual side to existence.. an open heart is pretty much all that is required..
Lupa.. I would be really interested in how you approach and negotiate with illustrators, I have one in mind that I would love to talk to regarding sketches throughout the book, but have no idea what to offer her in return in relation to compensation and payment..
I have also started looking into lulu.com for self publishing as I think that might be the way to go for me.. also see through that thread on here for self publishers that amazon.com has started a self publishing deal too..
I am also reworking the manuscript a little, trying to be like a first time reader and see any loop holes or gaping chasms that may exist making understanding difficult..
blessings to all for great advice...

February 3rd, 2008, 03:24 PM
Lupa.. I would be really interested in how you approach and negotiate with illustrators, I have one in mind that I would love to talk to regarding sketches throughout the book, but have no idea what to offer her in return in relation to compensation and payment..

Okay, again, keep in mind that I'm coming primarily from a small press perspective, so a lot of this will depend on what publisher you end up going with. What the publisher I work with does is gives the cover artist a certain percentage of the royalties. Because it is such a small press, they can't afford to outright buy the piece (though the artist, of course, does get to keep the rights). Interior illustrations are purely optional, and right now the publisher can only give a free copy of the book to an interior illustrator. I usually commission talented but often overlook artists who can use the portfolio boost. One the publisher becomes bigger they'd like to be able to compensate more, but right now they're pretty maxed out on what they can do.

For your own artwork, again, it depends on the publisher. A lot of larger publishers have a bunch of in-house artists, so you won't have to worry about arranging it (though you may end up with artwork you're not so crazy about). If you go the self-publishing route, you might try barter, or work out a contract with royalties involved if you can't afford to buy the art outright. Or, if you're an artist yourself, there's always the DIY route.

I have also started looking into lulu.com for self publishing as I think that might be the way to go for me.. also see through that thread on here for self publishers that amazon.com has started a self publishing deal too..
I am also reworking the manuscript a little, trying to be like a first time reader and see any loop holes or gaping chasms that may exist making understanding difficult..
blessings to all for great advice...
ahoFor self-publishing I'd recommend Lulu.com. I use them to print out preview copies of books for cover blurbs, and I've always been happy with the results. If you decide to go the self-publishing route, I would highly recommend hiring a freelance editor to go over it--again, if you have a friend who's talented, work out a payment plan or barter. The biggest problem with self-editing is that once you look at your own work long enough you "get used to it" and don't pay as much attention to errors.

But if Llewellyn (or any other publisher) is interested in your book, definitely follow up with them and see what kind of a deal they can offer you. If you're worried about how they may want to edit your text, bring up your concerns with the acquisitions editor--that's what they're there for. It could end up being a really good opportunity for you!