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Let’s Talk About Querying a Self-Published Book

booksI’ve been doing my best to get caught up on my query inbox lately, and in looking at hundreds of queries over the past few days, I’ve been struck by how many more queries I’m getting for self-published books than ever before. And that’s fine, it is. I’m absolutely open to handling print rights for previously published ebooks, or helping you take your bestselling self-published title to a bigger market, as well as handling foreign, film, and other subsidiary rights for you. But here’s the thing — ok, there’s multiple things. First of all, the key word in that last sentence? “Bestselling.” If you’ve already released your book into the market, I need to know in your query letter how it’s done. Not how many 5- and 4-starred reviews it’s received. Not how many letters you’ve receieved from kids who’ve read and loved it.  How many copies it’s sold.

I also want to know WHY you’re approaching me now. I got one query from an author who touted his book’s starred review from Kirkus — which is fantastic, but the query read more like an ad for a book I should buy than a query for something he wanted me to represent. If you’ve done so well self-publishing, why do you want to change now? Why seek me out? I know the reasons why someone would, but I want to hear YOU say it.

(And as an aside, don’t send me ads, ok? Don’t add me to your mailing list and bombard me with spam. Just don’t.)

So say you have a bestselling indie title, and you’ve written to ask me for help in breaking into the traditional publishing world — you know it’s not going to be with Book Two in your series, right? Don’t query me with the middle book in a trilogy, or the third or fourth book in a series. If you’ve done well enough with a series, let’s take your indie success and break you out with something new, something that your previous readers will flock to an actual bookstore to buy — and something they’ll pay more than $2.99 to own.

And don’t forget to keep it within the young adult and middle grade age ranges. Even with a bestselling, previously self-published series that’s done well enough that you’re ready to swing for the big leagues with your next project, let’s keep it to the types of books I actually represent, ok? Thanks!

Photo above by Flickr user Pimthida, used under a Creative Commons license.