Episode 84

Query Letters vs Book Proposals

Happy Halloween. In this episode, we’re talking about book proposals, how much writers make, and other such spooky things.

Music licensed from Storyblocks:

“More Jam Please” by Raighes Factory

“Creepy Halloween” by MoodMode

“Mystery of a Haunted Memory” by Jon Presstone

“Ghost Town” by Jayson Wayne Brown

“Through the Fields” by zoze

"My Dark Room" by Enzo Orefice

Rosemi Mederos:

If you have plot bunnies coming out of your plot holes, it’s time for a writing break.

Happy Halloween. In this episode, we’re talking about book proposals, how much writers make, and other such spooky things.

Let’s visit our usual haunt, the Writing Break cafe, where I will fill you in on the scariest publishing news.

% from:

So far, authors have filed five lawsuits against Open AI, and now they’re going after Meta, Microsoft, and Bloomberg for using their work to train AI. In this latest lawsuit, the authors are seeking financial compensation and an injunction to stop companies from using their books to train AI. The lawsuit could become a class-action case.

There is a new imprint coming to HarperCollins UK. Hemlock Press, which will launch next spring, will publish espionage fiction, literary crime thrillers, and historical suspense.

The Authors Guild conducted a survey about author income. I have the latest, scary, results. Let’s slink on over to the Overthinking Couch to talk it over, shall we?

edian gross pre-tax income in:

Compared to a 2018 survey, part-time authors experienced a 4% decrease in writing-related income, while full-time authors had a 20% increase in their income. The average annual income was $10,000 for self-published authors and $15,000 for traditionally published authors.

As can be expected, the more established a writer was, the higher their annual income, regardless of whether they were traditionally or self-published. The top 10% of earners made $275,000 while the bottom 50% made $1,300.

Check the show notes for links to this survey and all of today’s news stories.

And now, grab a flashlight and your EMF meter; we’re taking a trip to a haunted library.

A librarian at Hutchinson Public Library in Hutchinson, Kansas, was so devoted to the job, not even death could keep her away.


y afternoon. She resigned in:

On one occasion, [Hutchinson] library employees Angeline Welch and Rose Hale were working in the basement. Hale went upstairs and when she returned, she heard Welch talking to someone. Welch denied she had said a word, but Hale heard footsteps leaving.

Hale said the next day she stopped below the stairs and saw a lady standing there. Hale did not know the woman’s name, but when she later described the woman to another library employee, Hale was told she had just described Ida Day. Since that time, other employees claimed to have heard footsteps in the basement, and it became a shared joke that whenever anything was misplaced or missing, Ida Day took it.

The feeling that Ida Day returned to watch over the library, and sometimes rebelled when she thought it was not being run correctly, was reinforced by the local paper. In the News story, published when Ida Day resigned to take the job in California, the article stated, “She plans to retain ownership of her home, and will eventually return to Hutchinson….”

I guess she has returned to Hutchinson, and it sounds like she’s there to stay. Now, let's glance around this unassuming, boxy library and see if Ida Day has any book recommendations for us.

The Ghost of Lilly Pilly Creek by Australian author Abbie L. Martin is the first book in the Lilly Pilly Creek Ghost Mysteries stories.

“After the tragic death of her sister Autumn, Jones returns to her small Australian hometown in the Adelaide Hills. However, when Autumn's ghost appears to her, Jones is thrust into a quest to uncover the truth behind her sister's untimely demise.

Using Autumn's ghostly abilities, the sisters uncover shocking revelations that suggest Autumn's death may not have been an accident. With danger looming, Jones and Autumn race against time to catch the killer before they strike again. But as they get closer to the truth, Jones realizes that her own life may also be in danger.

As the sisters team up to solve the mystery, they are joined by their loyal friends, Wren and Atlas. Together, they work to revive The Memory Bank, the family's beloved stationery, local history, and bookshop, and solve Autumn's murder. Jones also finds herself drawn to Hugo, the owner of the neighbouring wine bar, who is more than happy to offer his assistance.

In this thrilling cozy mystery, follow Jones, Autumn and their friends as they navigate small-town secrets, unearthing clues and trying to stay one step ahead of a murderer. Will they solve the case in time, or will Jones be the next victim?”

The Ghost of Lilly Pilly Creek, which one reviewer described as Ghost Whisperer meets Gilmore Girls, is available in paperback and ebook formats.

Now, let’s find a quiet, non-haunted corner of the library for today’s writing tip.

In the past four seasons of Writing Break, we’ve focused a lot on fiction writing. Many of the writing tips for fiction writing are also relevant for non-fiction writing, but this season, I want to intentionally contrast the difference between fiction and non-fiction writing.

For starters, let’s look at the submission process for authors. Fiction authors who have never been published need to have a completed manuscript when they submit to literary agents and publishers. You don’t submit the entire manuscript right away, but every agent interested in your work will ask for the first 50 pages and then the whole manuscript, so you’ll want to have the manuscript completed in order to hang on to that momentum and keep the agent’s attention.

For non-fiction, it is possible for new authors to sign with a literary agent and a publishing house without having written the entire manuscript first. Rather than the query letters used by fiction writers, nonfiction writers submit a book proposal. If the agent is interested in your book, they might ask you for chapter summaries and a sample chapter or three. So with just a fraction of the book written, a nonfiction writer can receive part of an advance to help fund them while they’re finishing up the book. Then the rest of the advance is paid in two or three more installments as the writing progresses.

Check the show notes for Jane Friedman’s take on writing a book proposal. There are also countless book proposal templates available online for free.

I’ll be back with you in two weeks, when we’ll discuss one of my favorite literary devices and how it can and should be used in both fiction and nonfiction. Until then, thank you for listening, and remember, you deserved this break.

If you would like us to visit your favorite independent bookstore, feature your favorite independent author (even if it’s you), or discuss something you’re overthinking about, please email me at podcast@writingbreak.com.

Thank you for making space in your mind for The Muse today.

Writing Break is hosted by America’s Editor and produced by Allon Media with technical direction by Gus Aviles. Visit us at writingbreak.com or contact us at podcast@writingbreak.com.

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Rosemi Mederos


Rosemi is the founder of America's Editor, a book editing company.