Re-sending Query Letters: Is it ok to re-submit to literary agents and publishers?

Literary agents and publishers reject an overwhelmingly large number of query letters than they accept. With those odds, it’s hard not to have gone through the rejection and dejection phase. In many cases, it’s not even an outright rejection of the query letter through a template responses. It’s that eerie silence from the other side that gets on the nerves of new authors. There are ways for authors to deal with rejection.

But does a rejection (implied or explicit) from a literary agency that was on the top of your wishlist mean it’s the end of the road for you?

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Pros and cons of choosing a small publisher

Most authors who have a novel or non-fiction book ready for submission, start the query letter process by listing out the traditional publishing houses – Penguin, HarperCollins, Hachette, John Wiley, Simon & Schuster Random House, you know the list. But for many authors, it’s like trying to swim against the current and it can take forever for the biggies to even consider a query letter and ask for the full manuscript.

Many of those authors who’ve either not been lucky with the big names or have a different strategy to get published start looking at the small publisher. Here are some pros and cons of working with a small publisher.

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Query letter rejections: How writers can deal with it

Query letters for books need a lot of TLC (tender love & care) to create. Getting the mailing list of the best literary agents and publishers to send your carefully crafted query letter takes longer. Waiting for the publishers and the book agents takes forever.

So no matter how determined you are in wanting to get your novel or non-fiction book published, rejections can be very disappointing.

How you deal with rejections and move on is an important part of the learning curve. Here are a few things you can do to help you put things in perspective and improve your book proposal or query letters.

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Book publishers in India – International publishing companies

In India, many leading publishers directly accept submissions from authors. They might work with literary agencies too, but that pipeline of manuscripts is hardly sufficient to keep their wheels turning throughout the year. So they open up the doors to first time authors even if it means investing more resources to evaluate the avalanche of query letters and submitted proposals, in the hope that the best books and bestsellers are hiding in there somewhere.

Though there are hundreds (thousands?) of traditional publishing houses in India, a few prominent ones regularly come up in discussions and these are generally the ones that new writers target. Here’s a short list of some international publishers who have a presence in India.

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How to write a Query letter for your book?

I wrote several hundred query letters and sent them to a whole lot of literary agents and publishers. ‘Several hundred’ refers more to the variations of a basic format, rather than hundred distinctly different formats. It was more of an experimentation and fine-tuning process where I made minor alterations after every few submissions.

One of those query letters got me a great literary agent and subsequently a publishing contract with a top tier publisher. I can’t call myself an expert at writing query letters, but after having gone through the drill so many times, I can share some basics that you can use as a starting point to create variations that work for your book.

Read the Query Letter FAQ post first.

How long should a query letter be?

A good query letter will not be more than

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Query Letter FAQ: How literary agents and publishers will evaluate it

So you’ve decided not to venture into the world of self-publishing yet. That brings you back to the process of wooing publishers or literary agents to represent you.

If you are aiming for the traditional publishers, chances are they would want you to get a literary agency to review your manuscript first and then forward it to them.

You know the reasons why – too many requests, paucity of time and effort (for the publishers), quality issues with the slush pile, yada yada.

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How to write a book and get published

Whether you are a fiction or non-fiction writer, it helps to understand the entire life cycle for a book. If you are just getting started, here’s a short primer to set the ball rolling.

Writing the book

Your writing will fall under two broad categories – fiction and non-fiction.

In a novel (another label for fiction books) is where you create a plot (imaginary or inspired by the real world), characters (that your readers will love or hate) and bring them to life with your narration.

The sub-genre (romance, thriller, fantasy, young adult, humor, chick-lit, erotica, horror) will decide the twists and turns in your plot and the tone, style of writing.

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