Posted by: nancyisanders | March 3, 2009

Book In A Month Club: One Hour Today

Are you all fired up and ready to join the fun as we TRY to land a book contract–in just one month!

Here’s what to do for the hour you marked on your calendar. (Of course, you can spend more time doing this if you want, but since we’re going to do this every weekday for the entire month, one hour is very manageable so you don’t burn out midway.)

First grab a kitchen time. Set your timer for 15 minutes. Use this time to choose a publisher to target. Look in your market guides…pick up a favorite current book or magazine and locate the publisher’s name…go to and check out various publishers of your favorite topic…skim publisher interviews in a current writer’s mag…Don’t stress out about it or take a long time doing it. Just find the name of one publisher that sort of interests you.

Now set the timer for 15 more minutes. Use this time to practice finding out more about the publisher you chose. Google their name or go directly to their website. Look for their “submissions guidelines.” Sometimes it’s hidden under “About us” or “Contact us.” Try to find out if they take unsolicited queries. See if they welcome e-mail queries or if you have to send it via postal mail. Print out any pertinent info you find.

For our purposes this month, we only want to target publishers who accept unsolicited queries. If the publisher you were looking at doesn’t, drop them and find a different one that does. Again, don’t stress out about it. Just choose one publisher in an area that interests you who accepts unsolicited queries.

Ready to move on? Now set the timer for 15 more minutes. Use this time to practice thinking of a way to break into their market. Browse through the publisher’s product list until you find a book or article that you think, “Hey, I could try to write that!” Don’t dilly dally or reflect deeply into your inner soul right now–just skim through their product list and note something that catches your interest that you think you could actually write. Make a quick list of topics they already cover along that line and then jot down 3-5 topics that relate to it but they haven’t yet published. For instance, if you’re looking at a line of nonfiction books about wild animals, list the animals they’ve covered: elephants, lions, cheetahs, etc. Then list 3-5 topics you don’t see such as tigers, hyenas, and boa constrictors.

And now to reach the finish line–set your timer for a final 15 minutes. Use this time to practice writing a query letter. Here’s a sample one you can use–just fill in the blanks and you’re ready to go:

Dear ______ (first name of editor),
I read in _________ (name of magazine or website or market guide etc.) that you are interested in ______________ (type of articles or books they’re looking for). I studied your website and see that you publish _____________ (topics or series they publish). Would you be interested in receiving a proposal about ________________ (topic they haven’t yet published).
_______ (your name)
_______ (your contact info)

Here’s how that looks in final form:
Dear Haley,
I read in the Children’s Book Insider that you are interested in nonfiction picture books to use in the classroom. I studied your website and see that you publish a series about wild animals in Africa. Would you be interested in receiving a proposal about tigers, hyenas, or boa constrictors?
Annie Author
123 Diction Street
Writewood, PA 12345

Whew! You did it! All in just one hour. And if your target publisher accepts e-mail queries, it only takes one second to click the “send” button–and your query is on its way. If they only accept snail mail queries, print out the query in a business letter format with your contact information at the top of the page, put it in an envelope and drop it in your mailbox.

Today, go ahead and try this all on your own! Send out your very first query. Tomorrow I’ll give some links and suggestions for various other publishers you can target.


  1. Hi Nancy,
    I’m looking forward to taking this journey with you this month. I posted a link for it on my blog, too. You’re such a good teacher in this format. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  2. Doraine, it’s great to have you on board again this year! -Nancy

  3. Hi Nancy!
    I just did it! But with interruptions from my son, it took maybe 2 hrs+. I sent a query to Upstart, which was advertised in March’s CBI. I hope & pray it brings good results!


  4. Great for you, Tina! I’m hoping to get started this afternoon. -Nancy

  5. Oh my! This is a bit scary! I sent my query to Chelsea Clubhouse, listed in the October Children’s Writer. It took me about two hours, too. Not because of interruptions from children, I just couldn’t stop when I was supposed to!

  6. Scary is the word! I just finished my query to Peachtree Publishers. My heart is pounding and I’m heading out to put it in the mailbox before I change my mind! (Isn’t it fun, tho?) -Nancy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: