Dear Agent – Part 2

Now we get to the nitty gritty (more of those clichés) of what to pitch.

Most of what LKG sells is prescriptive non-fiction aimed at women. Basically how to everything. How to fashion and style, how to beauty, lots and lots of how to diet, health, nutrition, and fitness, and perhaps even more how to parenting. So let’s start with content. If your book is in one of these categories, you’re in the right place. Even if it’s not an exact match, but close, like how to decorate, or how to train your dog, try us.  We’re interested.

But it’s not enough to send us a general diet book. The key here is hook. That’s a common word agents and editors use to identify what sets a new title apart from other books already on the shelf.

Katie Hurley’s hook was the notion that today’s parenting ethos, with its focus on achievement, had left the idea of happy behind. She wanted to bring back happy and show parents how to raise joyful children. And so The Happy Kid Handbook was born.

Dieting is perhaps one of the most crowded fields, but Lauren Slayton realized that planning hadn’t really been done in the best way possible. It wasn’t just planning for a typical day of dieting, it was also about pre-planning for the worst possible scenarios that ruin your idealized day of dieting, from holidays and travel to family gatherings and birthday parties. Hence The Little Book of Thin. Even the packaging echoes the message of the book. It’s slim and transportable so that you can take it with you to address all your planning worries.  (Though we can’t take any credit for the design — that all goes to Perigee.)

Behaviorist Michelle Segar is tackling the tough issue of exercise from the starting point of how to think about fitness, not just how to do it.  That’s what we want you to identify — a sentence or two on what makes your book unique and able to stand out on already crowded shelves.

Next, all of our authors have strong credentials, which means that if they are writing a dieting book, they are nutritionists or dieticians. If they are writing a parenting book, they aren’t just parents, they are therapists, psychologists, etc.  (Editors love those letters after an author’s name.)  Even my style experts are called experts for a reason. They write style columns in magazines and newspapers, or appear on TV as a stylist. While I’m sure dating massively can give you serious dating and relationship experience, I’m afraid it’s not enough to set you up to write a dating advice book.  I might sound curmudgeonly expecting these letters and expertise, but this isn’t coming from LKG, it’s coming from editors, who expect these kinds of credentials. And more significantly from the publicity teams at those houses who need these credentials to sell the books to the press.

Credentials and letters give you credibility, for readers, editors, the media. We need to buy what you are selling and we are more likely to do so if we believe you have the right background.

So sell us — a marvelous approach to reading from a PhD in education who regularly blogs at HuffPo and the Motherlode that is a surefire bet to help your kids achieve literacy and stay readers for life? We’re on it. A new angle on superfast exercise from a Today show regular trainer that can lean out your body? We love it! A how to book on tackling childrens’ allergies from a parent who has been there but isn’t a doctor? Worthy but not for us.

LKG also looks for narrative projects, non-fiction memoirs and the like. But that only comprises about 10 or 20 percent of our list. So we’ll save that for another day.

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