Dear Miss Snark,
A small press wants to acquire my self-published non-fiction book. I'm preparing to invite my dream agent to represent me in the deal. How should I structure my query? Do I still start with a hook, or is the fact that I've already been offered a contract the most important thing to lead with? And does the "gimme" make it much more likely that my dream agent will want to sign up, or should I still steel myself for rejection?
Thanks for your help.
First, you let go of the idea that your "dream agent" will be able to take this on. Most established, big agents need to make money and "small press" and "big money" are almost always mutually exclusive.
Look around for agents starting their careers. You're more likely to get in the door there, and a lot of them are darn good. Kate Epstein is one.
Lead with the fact you have an offer on the table. That moves you up on the urgency scale.
If you can't find an agent, you MUST have the offer reviewed by a contract review specialist or a lawyer who knows about publishing.