How to Turn Your Book Ideas into Money in the Bank, Step 6: Query Letters and Self-Publishing

Welcome back to our Turning Book Ideas into Money series! So far we have covered:

If you have decided to go the traditional route and get your book published with the big dogs in New York, then you will need to craft a short, compelling query letter.

This is a dreaded step for writers the world over. How can we be expected to compress our 100,000 word manuscript into a 250 word blurb? It’s outrageous, impossible! I won’t do it and that’s it. You can resent it. You can refuse to play by their rules. And you will never get that beauty published. Your idea, outlined, written, edited to a prosy shine, will lie forever in a drawer.

Are you ready to suck it up and write a query like a good little writer?

Check out this post for examples of winning queries. Note how each query differs slightly, depending on the genre of the book it represents, but also note that they all share one common thread: they sell both the book and the author.

A query letter is a letter of introduction, introducing a literary agent to you and your book. BUT, it is also much more than that. It is the last step in your Jedi training. Master the query and you will be crowned a Jedi Knight, powerful in the ways of the Writing Force. Succeed in this and you will have your own literary agent. Of course, there yet remain plenty of hurdles between your dream and sales. But crafting a successful query is a major check in the win column.

Here are 5 quick tips on drafting winning queries:

  1. Research potential agents: genres they like, titles and authors they’ve sold
  2. Drop the old-school gender salutation and just start with: Dear Jennifer Jackson,
  3. The Hook: What is the unique aspect of your novel? Open the letter with that
  4. The Body of the letter should include: Main character (don’t give a run-down of every character) and the person/group/thing that is keeping the MC from attaining her deepest desire. Don’t forget to include What is at Stake. What is exceptional about your created world? Ideally this will be something the agent has not yet seen
  5. The Snatch-N-Grab closing: Compare your book to other successful works, especially if they are books this agent has sold or mentioned as a favorite

INDIVIDUALIZE

It may seem like a hassle, individualizing each query letter for specific agents, but remember, you only need 1 agent to say YES. Give yourself the best chance you can.

Take it to the Bank goes into greater detail, with other tips, examples, and advice from best-selling authors and literary agents. Immediately following the section on query letters, it goes into explanations on self-publishing.

SELF-PUBLISHING THE FRUGAL WAY

Assuming you have finished editing your manuscript, you will need 3 other items before you are ready to self-publish. They are:

  1. A dynamite book description (use kindlepreneur’s free generator for this)
  2. A fabulous book cover (designed by you)
  3. An unflappable determination to MAKE THIS THING WORK!

THE EDUMACATION OF A SELF-PUBLISHER

Scan the bookshelves of your local library or book store and read the book descriptions from the inside flaps or back covers. Educate yourself on the winning points of book descriptions. They differ slightly from queries. They are not about the author, do not cover word count, and they avoid all throat-clearing while retaining the all-important hook. WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS BOOK?

E-BOOK COVERS

To help you figure out the best way to create a stunning, eye-catching book cover, browse the countless YouTube tutorials and articles written on this subject. Try them all, if that’s what it takes to find your strengths when it comes to this step. Some people prefer using Microsoft Office PowerPoint to create their covers. Others swear by Photoshop or Wattpad or Illustrator, or even MS Word.

There are no wrong choices here, so long as you are happy with your cover and it catches the theme and wonder of your book. (Also, you would be wise to approach your covers in the same way you do your manuscripts: after completing it, step away for a while. When you return to it, you will notice weak points or discover that you now have a better vision for your cover.)

I am sufficiently self-aware to confess that creating book covers is not one of my strengths. So I won’t pretend to the expert here. For the nitty-gritty of crafting your cover, you might check out the following links

  • : williamking.me offers a nice simple cover tutorial with pictures
  • canva offers a professional-looking instructional section, but I’m pretty sure you have to subscribe (and there might be hidden fees, I don’t know)
  • this YouTube tutorial uses Ms Word, and is very simple and detailed

HOW TO PUBLISH YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON, M-KAY?

  1. Go to Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and create an account. (Remember your account password)
  2. At ‘Bookshelf’ hit ‘Create New e-Book’ and follow the simple instructions.
  3. In the Description box, paste in the HTML-converted description you wrote using Kindlepreneur’s Amazon Book Description Generator
  4. In the ‘Keyword’ section, select 7 keywords connected to your book’s theme and genre (type different keywords into Amazon search bar and find out what comes up first)
  5. Hit the Publish button when you are done submitting your manuscript/cover/details

Wait for Amazon to publish your golden goose! It should be available within 24 hours, but don’t freak out if it takes a little longer.

Okay, now it’s time to sit back and watch the money roll in, right?

WRONG!

Now is the crucial moment when you should be marketing your baby. Other than setting up a blog to flog it, one of the best ways to promote your e-book is to set up an AMS ad campaign. We’ll cover the benefits and procedures for setting up a ‘Sponsored Product’ ad campaign on Amazon in the next post. Hope to see you there.