Posted by: nancyisanders | March 4, 2009

Book In A Month Club: Libraries Unlimited

Welcome back to the Book In A Month Club! This month we’re going to TRY to land a book contract–all in one month! Instead of subbing manuscripts we’ve already written, however, the strategy I recommend is to find a publisher to target in a genre that interests you. Choose one that accepts queries. Then study their product line, brainstorm 3-5 new ideas that would fit into their list, and send off a query asking if they’d like to see a proposal for those ideas.

Let’s start by examining a publisher I already write for because I already know how they work. I first read an article in the Children’s Writer magazine where they interviewed editor Sharon Coatney at Libraries Unlimited. I’d never heard of this publisher before, so I visited their website. Copy and paste the link to their website and let’s get started. (It might make it easier to print out today’s post to use as a reference as you go.)

Libraries Unlimited:
Manuscript Proposal Guidelines:

Go to the link I provided and look at their manuscript guidelines. Down toward the bottom of the page, they say:

Before sending your proposal, please e-mail our acquisitions editors to review your ideas.

Super! They WANT an author to send them a query! This is what we’re looking for. Sure, there are lots of publishers who require agented submissions or don’t accept simultaneous submissions or require the entire manuscript for review. Just skip over those for now. Why? Because there are also lots of publishers who want queries. They’re used to getting queries from authors and offering contracts to write books. That’s what we’re looking for while we TRY to land a book contract in the Book In A Month Club.

So now, let’s see if this publisher has series.
I always like to look for a publisher to target who had series because chances are, they’re looking for new authors to add new titles to their series. Once again, Libraries Unlimited is a great place to start because at the left of their website they include the link: BROWSE BY SERIES. Bingo!

Click on those various series that they have. See if there is a series or type of book that you say to yourself, “I think I could try to write books like this!” When I first looked at their website, most of those series were totally out of my capability. But then I clicked on their READERS THEATRE series.

Some of the titles interested me. I clicked on their link to read more about several. I liked what I read, but I wanted to see more. So I went to and searched for some of the titles. You try it. Go to Search for “Extraordinary Women from U.S. History.” See how amazon offers a feature where you can click and look inside the book? Try it! Look at the table of contents. Look at some sample plays.

I had never written a book of readers theatre before, but after looking at the sample pages of the book, I thought, “I think I could try to write one of these books!”

So now, let’s go back and dig deeper into their series. Go back to the home page of Libraries Unlimited. Click on their READERS THEATRE series. Look over the title of their books in that series. Make a list of their titles and try to group them into sets or topics. For instance, I noticed that they had a couple of books about US History:

Extraordinary Women from U.S. History
Readers Theatre for American History

So I brainstormed ideas to fit into that set of books. (My idea was Readers Theatre for African American History that they eventually accepted.) Let’s brainstorm some more ideas together:
Readers Theatre for American Presidents
Readers Theatre for the First Ladies
Readers Theatre for America’s Founding Fathers

If you think you could try to write a reader’s theatre book to fit into this series, you can now e-mail the editor, Sharon Coatney, and ask her if she’d be interested in receiving a proposal for any of those ideas!

Sure, this might not be your top ten wish list for topics to write about. But that’s okay. Write about those topics on another day for your goal of writing for personal fulfillment. If you want to earn income as a writer, learn to send in a query, land a contract, and write a book about what an editor wants. Learn not to ask yourself, “Do I WANT to write this?” Learn instead to ask yourself, “Do I think I can TRY to write this?” If you think so, send the editor a query to see if she’d like you to send her a proposal.

So if you want to send in a query to Libraries Unlimited, go ahead!
If, however, you didn’t feel like you could actually write a book to fit that publisher, here is a list of publishers for you to consider. I haven’t double-checked the following list, but according to the 2009 Writer’s Market Guide, each of these publishers accepts queries. Many do a variety of genre, including:

Picture Books: Down East Books at
Middle Grade Novels: Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers at
Young Adult Novels: Pinata Books at
Christian devotions and inspirational market: Intervarsity Press at
Christian adult fiction: Moody Publishers at
Adult fiction: David R. Godine at
Adult Nonfiction: Pineapple Press at
Poetry: E-Digital Books at

Use the same step-by-step progression I showed you with Libraries Unlimited to study a publisher in the genre of your choice. Refer to my list or find your own. Pick out one that you think you could try to write. (As you explore, keep a chart with pertinent info about publishers that interest you. I like to make a chart that includes columns for: Publisher’s name, Editor’s name, E-mail, Website, if they accept queries or not, how many titles a year they publish, if they pay royalty or not, how many % of first time authors they work with, and notes.)

Then, refer to yesterday’s post and send in your second query…today. Choose another target publisher and send in your third query…tomorrow. Check back in for more ideas and tips all through this month as we TRY to land a book contract—for this year’s Book In A Month Club!


  1. Thanks so much for this info. You made hunting for a publisher easier 🙂 I was wondering what all I’d do today. It’s nice having you TELL me! haha


  2. I’m glad this was helpful, Tina. I’m planning on posting similar step-by-steps for targeting other publishers throughout the month, too. -Nancy

  3. Nancy, I have a question. I sent a query to Sharon at LU. (By the way, their e-mail has changed. I think maybe ABC-Clio bought them or maybe they were already affiliated.) I proposed three topics. The e-mail I received back said, “Yes, we are interested in proposals.” I think I need a translation. My proposals? Any proposals? Should I e-mail again and ask which of my proposals sounded interesting? Do I just pick one and start? Jeepers!

  4. Doraine, you’re our first success story this month!!!! You’re the very first one who has reported back that an editor has requested a proposal. Hip hip hooray for you! Tomorrow I explain what to do next, but just as a hint, now that the editor has communicated back, it’s perfectly fine to get right back in touch with her and ask several key questions to get you started. If you want to wait to hear the whole thing–stop back in for tomorrow’s post.

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