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Resume Extension:
A Sure-fire Way to Catch an Editor’s Eye

Over my writing career, I collected my share of rejection letters. In fact, at a particular writer’s conference I won the award for receiving the most rejection letters in one year! I was sending out book manuscripts that had been critiqued and seemed up to the level of what was being published, but no editor showed interest. Was I doing something wrong?

I carefully evaluated my book proposals. They were on target. They were professionally prepared. They were aimed at specific publishers to meet their specific marketing needs. No, I wasn’t doing anything wrong. But one day I started adding an extra page to my proposals. Suddenly, editors took notice. Almost every proposal I then sent out resulted in a contract, even with new publishers who had never heard of me before. What was suddenly I doing right?

That extra “magic page” was the key. I call it my Resume Extension, and it has worked to bring me more contracts than anything I’d ever done before. It’s the third page of my proposal, with the first page being my query letter and the second page being my resume listing any writing credits I have achieved. It comes right before the actual proposal, so an editor is sure to see it.

On my Resume Extension, I type a header in the center of the page with my name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. Directly below it, I state:

The following proposals are in the idea stage and are available for review. Please check and return in the SASE if interested in receiving any or all of them. This page is a simultaneous submission.

Listed down the page, with places for the editor to make a check mark, are five to ten descriptions of various ideas I think the editor might be interested in. I don’t list these topics by chance. Only after I have carefully studied that particular publisher’s book catalog and web page do I compile this list of topics they seem to be interested in but have not published before.

At the bottom of the page, I sometimes add the following section:

Please check if interested in reviewing a proposal for this type of book or series (Explain if necessary):
___Beginning Readers ___First Chapter Books
___Puzzle and Activity Books ___Infant Novelty Books

In this last section, I list types of books that particular publisher carries in their product line and that I would be interested in writing. Sometimes the editor hasn’t checked off any of the proposals I’d suggested at the top of the page, but has checked off several types of books she’d like to see proposals for.

Most proposals I still sent out returned with a rejection letter. However, almost 90 percent of the time, the editor returned my Resume Extension with at least one item checked off. Why such a low success rate with my book manuscripts but such a high success rate with my Resume Extension? The answer is a practical one.

Many book editors are required to produce a certain number of certain types of books according to their company’s marketing plan for the upcoming season. For instance, an editor may need to produce one new beginning reader series, four picture books, and three infant novelty books. If this same editor already had four authors under contract to write new picture books, one author writing a new beginning reader series, and two authors writing infant novelty books, what is that editor looking for? My picture book proposal that I just mailed into her? No, no matter how well-written it is. She needs one more infant novelty book. When she sees on my Resume Extension that I’m willing to prepare a proposal that might fit her need, I’ve caught her eye. If I’ve listed a proposal for an infant novelty book at the top of my Resume Extension, the editor checks it off. If I didn’t list one there, but I included that genre at the bottom section, she checks it off there. Placing it back in my SASE, she mails it off. It took her a total of 5 minutes of effort on her part, and she’s got nothing to lose.

I’ve got everything to gain, however, so when I receive my Resume Extension back in the mail, I get immediately to work. The first thing I do is call the editor on the phone. I introduce myself and remind her of the items she checked off on my Resume Extension. I then ask her a question that seems to thrill every editor’s heart. “How can I prepare this proposal to best meet your needs?” After I ask this question, I can almost hear the editor give an audible sigh of relief. I picture her thinking, “Great! An author who’s interested in meeting MY needs!” A brief conversation usually follows where the editor clearly discusses the need she has. I ask her about a couple of different angles for approaching the project until we finally land on identifying the proposal she’d like to see. I ask her when she’d like to receive it, then we hang up and I get right to work.

Some of my biggest contracts have resulted from using my Resume Extension. When I’ve shared this idea with members of my critique group, they’ve gotten contracts, too. One new member to our group had never written a thing before in her life. She sent in a proposal to a publisher along with a Resume Extension. Her proposal was rejected, but the publisher offered her a book contract based on topics she’d listed on her Resume Extension! Two more book contracts quickly followed. Using her Resume Extension, she had been able to catch an editor’s eye. You can, too, if you just give it a try!