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Publishing your first book - The query letter


Publishing a book could raise the profile of both you and your practice.

open book | © TRAVELARIUM - stock.adobe.com

© TRAVELARIUM - stock.adobe.com

Every good cook desires to open a restaurant, and many doctors want to write a book. Neither opening a restaurant nor writing a book is for the faint of heart. From the time you have the slight inkling of becoming an author to seeing your book published and available on Amazon is much longer than the nine months to birth a baby. Also, writing a book will cost money, and the likelihood of recuperating your expenses is highly unlikely. I hope this introduction has not discouraged you. However, I know what I am writing as I have published seventeen books, and only one has generated a profit. If you are still interested in writing a book, let me provide you with the process to go from your idea to publication, and you may end up on the New York Times Best Seller list. 

This will be a four-part series that begins with a query letter, then finding an agent, the book proposal, signing a contract with a publisher, editing the final draft, and finally marketing and promoting the book.

In the world of publishing, a well-crafted query letter can be the key to opening doors and securing a book deal. For healthcare professionals embarking on writing a non-fiction book, mastering the art of the query letter is crucial. This blog serves as a guide to creating an effective query letter. I will describe the essential components of a query letter and explore strategies for creating a compelling hook that captivates literary agents and publishers alike. I will also include a sample query letter I used for a recent book.

A query letter is a concise and persuasive one-page letter that serves as your book's pitch to literary agents or publishers. Its primary purpose is to capture the attention of agents who can land you a contract to publish your first book. A query letter should convey the unique value of your work, demonstrate your expertise as a healthcare professional, and outline why your book is relevant and marketable and needs to be written.

The essential components of the query letter begin with a hook that immediately grabs the reader's attention. This can be achieved through a compelling anecdote, a thought-provoking statistic, or a surprising fact about your book's topic. Introduce yourself as a healthcare professional and briefly explain your qualifications, establishing credibility from the outset. You need to provide your credentials and explain why you should be the writer of the book on a particular topic.

In the following paragraphs, provide a concise summary of your book. Highlight the main areas the book will cover, the problem it addresses, and your unique perspective or approach to the subject matter. Include the book's title, genre, and estimated word count.

Next, identify the specific audience your book is intended for within the healthcare profession. For example, is the target audience medical students, residents\fellows, or doctors already in practice? Describe their needs, challenges, and how your book addresses and solves their problems. This shows that you have a clear understanding of your potential audience.

Briefly mention similar books in the market and explain how your book differentiates itself from similar books already published. Emphasize its unique selling points, such as new research, innovative solutions, or a fresh perspective that sets it apart from existing publications. For example, suppose your book is on practice management, and you are including a chapter on ChatGPT and its application to office practice to enhance efficiency and productivity. In that case, this topic has yet to be covered in the existing books on practice management.

Include a concise biography that highlights your expertise as a healthcare professional. Include any relevant qualifications, experience, awards, or publications that establish your authority on the subject matter.

Finally, express your enthusiasm and gratitude, and invite the agent or publisher to request a complete manuscript or proposal. Offer contact information and express your willingness to provide additional materials if needed.

Bottom Line: Mastering the art of crafting an effective query letter is vital for healthcare professionals venturing into book writing. By understanding the purpose of a query letter and incorporating the essential components discussed, you can create a compelling pitch that captures the attention of literary agents and publishers. Furthermore, by developing a captivating hook that showcases the uniqueness and relevance of your book, you increase your chances of standing out in the competitive publishing industry. With persistence, dedication, and a well-crafted query letter, you can take a significant step toward realizing your writing aspirations.

In the next blog, I will discuss the creation of the book proposal followed by finding an agent to represent you and your book.

BTW: the query letter should be on a single page or much shorter than this blog!

Sample query letter for a book on “prostate cancer for partners”:

Dr. Neil Baum
Professor of Clinical Urology at Tulane Medical School
3525 Prytania, Suite 614
New Orleans, LA, 70118
Email: doctorwhiz@gmail.com
(504) 339-0535

Jeffry Herman
The Jeff Herman Agency
POB 1522
Stockbridge, MA 01262

Dear Mr. Herman,

We met several months ago at a bookseller's convention. I am writing to seek representation for my book project titled "Together in the Fight: Navigating Prostate Cancer as a Partner." This book will include a comprehensive approach to understanding the latest research and treatments for prostate cancer and providing guidance on managing anxiety, depression, and potential erectile dysfunction. My book supports partners of men facing this challenging journey of diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.

Hook: Prostate cancer affects 250,000 men and their partners annually in the United States. The problem often overwhelms men and their partners about the best course of action. "Together in the Fight" offers a beacon of hope, empowering partners with knowledge, tools, and emotional support to navigate the complexities of prostate cancer together.

In this book, I delve into the latest scientific advancements in prostate cancer research and treatment, distilling complex medical information into easily understood language. By incorporating the most up-to-date findings, readers will gain a comprehensive understanding of the disease, its diagnosis, treatment options, and potential side effects.

However, "Together in the Fight" goes beyond a purely medical approach. Recognizing prostate cancer's emotional toll on the patient and their partner, I provide practical advice and strategies for managing anxiety, depression, and the potential challenges of coping with erectile dysfunction. By addressing these topics openly and empathetically, I aim to help partners navigate their emotional journey and find strength, resilience, and renewed intimacy within their relationship.

As an experienced writer with a background in healthcare and extensive research on prostate cancer, I bring a unique perspective to this project. I have interviewed leading medical professionals in the field, spoken with patients and their partners, and immersed myself in the latest scientific literature to ensure the accuracy and relevance of the information shared in the book.

I believe "Together in the Fight" fills a significant gap in the market by providing a comprehensive resource specifically designed for partners of men with prostate cancer. This book will offer solace, guidance, and practical strategies, ultimately helping partners and their loved ones face the challenges of prostate cancer with knowledge, compassion, and unwavering support.

I can provide a proposal with a table of contents, chapter summaries, an author biography, and two sample chapters. I would be delighted to provide any additional materials to represent my book.

Thank you for considering my query. I believe that "Together in the Fight" has the potential to make a significant impact on the lives of individuals affected by prostate cancer and their partners. I would be grateful for the opportunity to discuss the project further and explore the possibility of working together.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Neil Baum

Neil Baum, MD, a Professor of Clinical Urology at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. Dr. Baum is the author of several books, including the best-selling book, Marketing Your Medical Practice-Ethically, Effectively, and Economically, which has sold over 225,000 copies and has been translated into Spanish.

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