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  • Writer's pictureMax Sinsheimer

"How to Query Nonfiction" Reedsy talk

A personal goal this year was to use what I've learned from the past six years as an agent (and the six years before that as an editor) to offer advice to authors at scale by participating in industry events and giving presentations. In May I spoke on a panel and held about thirty pitch meetings at the Washington Writers Conference. Last week, I took another step in that direction by giving an hour-long virtual talk on Reedsy Live about how best to query a nonfiction agent.

Reedsy is a marketplace connecting authors with book professionals, including editors, agents, ghostwriters, book designers, and marketers. Through it, I offer book proposal and query letter reviews, and copyedits and developmental edits on sample chapters and complete manuscripts. It's a freelance side hustle that I've really enjoyed, and which I keep completely separate from my agency work, in accordance with the American Association of Literary Agents' revised canon of ethics. (In other words, Reedsy isn't the right place to pitch me on projects for representation.)

Reedsy's Head of Content, Martin Cavannagh, asked me to give a talk on “How to Query Nonfiction," since I exclusively represent adult nonfiction. The talk, recorded live on August 2, is available to watch on Reedsy’s site here, where you can also read a cleaned up transcript and see my accompanying slides. (You’ll learn that I really like cartoons.) I was asked some great questions in the Q&A, which are not in the transcript, but you can still watch them in the video. The video is also on YouTube with an automated transcription, including for the Q&A. It has close to 1,700 views, so even though I had to publicly admit I didn't know what a Denver omelet is (apparently just another name for a Western omelet), I'm still calling it a success!

Thank you to Martin and Reedsy for inviting me to give this talk, and to the many authors who have given me such kind feedback since. A special shout-out as well to my author Craig Fear, who lived up to his online persona (Fearless Eating) in allowing me to dissect his excellent query letter in front of a big audience.


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