Example of a Query Letter to Literary Agents for a Nonfiction Book


Here’s the query letter for my “Quips and Tips” nonfiction book series, which I sent to a couple dozen literary agents five days ago.

So far, I’ve received six positive responses and many rejections. I’ll post some of the agents’ responses soon — some of them are really interesting!

Fellow scribes, how’s your writing coming along? Are you stuck or full of pluck?





“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” ~ William Faulkner.

I’ve been feeling stuck and a little bored lately. I want to be a traditionally published author – that’s what “dreaming and shooting higher than I’ve done before” means to me! And, that’s part of what I was talking about in What Does It Mean to be a REAL Writer? — upping your game, pushing the envelope.

After I wrote that post, I sent out this query letter to literary agents…

Oh – and if you need more than a sample letter to literary agents, read The Writers Digest Guide To Query Letters by Wendy Burt-Thomas. Not only is she a smart and successful writer, she’s a hoot to interview!

Query Letter Example – Nonfiction “Quips and Tips” Book Idea

Dear Best Literary Agent in the World,

I don’t know where to start!

Should I tell you about my six “Quips and Tips” websites and five ebooks? Should I highlight my first self-published ebook – 75 WAYS TO LET GO OF SOMEONE YOU LOVE – and stun you with stats on its success?



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Maybe I’ll just jump into why I wrote LETTING GO – because therein lies the reason “Quips and Tips” will become a bestselling book series.

“I don’t want you in my life anymore,” is one of the worst things you’ll ever hear from someone you love (even if your relationship sucks). Those words are worse than “it’s not me, it’s you”, worse than “this hurts me more than it hurts you.”

And it’s even more painful when you’re dumped by a family member: a sister, mother, brother. After all, your family is blood, right? And blood is forever, yes?

Not so much.

A few years ago, my sister told me she never wanted to speak to me again. Why? I don’t know! I never flirted (or worse) with her husband, never lost her kids in the mall at Christmas, never stole her favorite alpaca scarf. What I did was move to Africa for three years. Since our childhood included a schizophrenic mother, no father, weekly trips to the food bank, and several stints in foster homes…let’s just chalk it up to “abandonment issues.”

Letting her go was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

So – back to “Quips and Tips” – I wrote a blog post called Letting Go of Someone You Love. After I received thousands of page views and hundreds of comments, I decided to interview experts on how to cope with loss, to help my readers.

That’s what the ebook 75 WAYS TO LET GO OF SOMEONE YOU LOVE is all about: 75 tips for healing and dealing with the past. This ebook ($15 US) has sold more than 350 copies in 8 months. I haven’t promoted it at all – those sales are strictly from my organic “Quips and Tips” traffic.

What I Propose to You

A series of “Quips and Tips” books to walk hand-in-hand with my “Quips and Tips” websites. I’m not selling the ebooks as they’re written; I’m selling better, snappier, edgier versions of them.

I will edit and revise 75 WAYS TO LET GO OF SOMEONE YOU LOVE for a publishing house. It will be the first in a series of “Quips and Tips” traditionally published books, separate from my ebooks.

My other ebook titles are: 75 TIPS FOR MAKING MONEY BLOGGING; 73 WAYS TO FIRE UP (OR JUST FIRE) THE MUSE; 75 WAYS TO COPE WITH PET LOSS; 80 WAYS TO SAY I LOVE YOU.

My specialty is gathering information from experts – the “Quips and Tips” books aren’t just my advice (though I have degrees in Psych and Education). For instance, in LETTING GO, I offer advice from psychologists, relationship counselors, life coaches, etc – as well as real people who have loved and lost. Every ebook contains advice from a variety of experts and people who have “been there, done that.”

My job is to weave people’s stories with expert tips (with a sprinkle of my own wisdom and experience) to inspire, motivate, and educate readers.

My Bio – The “Adventurous Writer”

I’m Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen – The Adventurous Writer – a full-time freelance writer and blogger in Vancouver, BC, Canada. My work has appeared in magazines such as Reader’s Digest, Woman’s Day, Writer’s Digest, Health, Moreand . My degrees are in Psychology and Education, from the University of Alberta.

I created and maintains the “Quips and Tips” network of blogs: Quips and Tips for Achieving Your Goals; Quips and Tips for Successful Writers; Quips and Tips for Money and Love; Quips and Tips for Couples Coping With Infertility; and Quips and Tips for Giving Gifts.

Can I send you a book proposal? Or, how about my LETTING GO ebook, to give you a sense of what the finished book will look and feel like?

Thank you for your time!

Sincerely,

Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

Fellow scribes, if you’re writing a query letter, you might find 6 Query Letter Tips – How to Find a Literary Agent helpful.

What do you think about this sample query letter, approaching literary agents, and getting published…or if that’s too heavy just tell me what you had for breakfast! 🙂






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2 thoughts on “Example of a Query Letter to Literary Agents for a Nonfiction Book

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Hello Missy ~ eight agents requested the book proposal, and I am not sending one at a time, nor am I waiting for one to reject before sending another. It takes too long!

  • Missy R.

    Wow, I can’t believe how honest and energetic you were in this query letter. How many agents have requested a book proposal? Do you wait for one to reject before sending another?

    Thanks for sharing this Laurie.