Dear Miss Snark,
You are fabulous. A (liver-scented) kiss to Killer Yapp.
My question deals with non-fiction, but I hope you can help nonetheless.
A few years ago, I had an essay published in an anthology. The book sold well, and the editor asked all the contributors for a) a proposal for a book on a similar topic, and b) an essay for the next anthology. Not being a total nitwit, I submitted both. The essay was published in the follow up, and we had several backs and forths on the proposal. Then, nothing, nada, I assumed the proposal had died. Then I found out the editor was on maternity leave. Then the publisher was bought by another publisher. Then another maternity leave. A couple of years after I originally submitted my proposal, I sent a friendly holiday greeting to the editor and wouldn't you know, she replied saying that she'd been thinking about my book. We reworked the proposal some more, and now another six months later, I just found out that my proposal "has been approved by our publishing board."
Now, the proposal includes the idea that there would be contributions from other writers. In fact, at this point, I don't even know how much of the book she wants me to write. So...
1. Do I need an agent now? (I think I know what the answer will be, but I have to ask)
2. What do I query with? My revised proposal, plus a note explaining the situation?
At the very least, this might be a good example for your readers of just how long this process can take, even when you write a proposal AS REQUESTED BY AN EDITOR.
You may not need an agent but you certainly at the very least need a contract review specialist before you sign anything. Since I AM an agent, I think having an agent is a good idea (silly moi, so predictable).
You can query quickly with a cover letter making sure to mention the book is accepted, and by whom. Since the project is almost sold, agents don't need to see the proposal till after they've talked to you by email or phone.