My journey to finding the right agent has been rough. I started with a focus on the everyday people who take up the first 40% of the book. This was not the main attraction for agents. An established agent at Manuscript Acadamy took time to explain why it was not working. From that, I modified the query to focus on a few amazing Bajans and everyday people of Barbados. That query (#2) is at the bottom of this page.
Query Letter Agent #2 Flaws
Unfortunately, Query#2 was panned in my Author Group, where successful authors, agents, and editors help each other with advice. One said, ‘”Ian, I can guarantee you an agent is not going to read past paragraph 3. Your preamble about wonderful Barbados people will not stir them to read the book. They want real people, a main character, and a plot.” But, I proclaimed, “it’s non-fiction. There is no plot.”
The reply was: “You say it’s narrative non-fiction, in which case it’s got to follow the plan.” A character, a protagonist, a conflict, a resolution, etc.”
Well, I was confused, to say the least. I reached out to Kevin Anderson, who gave it another go, and that is now in circulation.. It is Query Letter # 3 as follows.
New Query Letter Agent #3
With your work with non-fiction authors and interest in books that ‘teach you something new’, I believe that you will like my 65,000-word creative non-fiction, ROGUES IN PARADISE. It is the story of the extraordinary people of Barbados, witty tales of character, heritage, and culture that will appeal to those who like Black Spartacus, Priestdaddy, and Washington Black.
Over 25 cruise lines call on Barbados, and its 80-plus beaches lure one million visitors annually. Yet Barbados has a rich and diverse heritage unseen by many; most of its history was written by the white colonialists who enslaved its people. My book changes that perspective with a vivid portrait of Barbados told through first-person accounts of Bajans, demonstrating their unique personality.
Set against a buzzing backdrop of iconic rum shops, historic chattel houses, and bustling open-air markets, these tales explore the island’s character and uncover a remarkable people who overcame 300 years of slavery and discrimination. They are everyday street people, vendors, and rogues. Legends like Rachael Pringle rose out of slavery to become successful businesswomen in the then-British colony. Heroes like Bussa, born a free man in Africa, and brought to Barbados as a slave, led a revolutionary revolt against the colonial plantation owners. Trend Setters like Mia Mottley, Barbados’ media-savvy prime minister, ranked as one of the world’s top influencers by Time magazine.
Rigorous research and insights reveal a surprising truth about how and why Bajans are different.
I am Trinidadian, with roots in Barbados and several islands. I’ve spent 35 years building environmental and tourism solutions while writing about technology, people, and travel. I founded the Barbados Tourism Encyclopedia in 1995; the comprehensive media platform receives one million views per year. In 2013, The New York Times featured my platform in ‘How Hotels Use Social Media’.
Dissecting Query Agent #3
- -Start with a bonding open – a description of “Creative non-fiction” (more leeway than a narrative) and a couple of Comps (comparisons) – The comps are current books by regular authors – not stars.
- The hook – why it is different – it’s about real people and their respective and lived experiences- not a colonial history
- The story of rogues, heroes, legends, and trendsetters demonstrates a cross-section of society and rich stories of slavery and survival.
- An intrigue – How and Why are they different – The book’s research and insight explain that – Hook2.
- BIO why I am qualified to write this story
It needs to say Rogues, but I am over the 300-word restriction.
Compared to Query Agent #2
As you represent Cancel Culture, I think you will like my 55,000-word non-fiction travel and culture book, ROGUES IN PARADISE: THE STORY OF THE EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE OF BARBADOS. Slavery and its rampant cancel culture did not crush their indomitable spirit. Today, Barbados is an influential democratic republic, a regional financial centre, and a leading tourism destination. Think notes from a small island meets Black Spartacus: witty travel tales resonant with the deep analysis of a Caribbean superhero.
In-depth observation and storytelling from my encyclopedic knowledge of the region – and its people – with tales of local characters and legends create a compelling portrait of a fascinating and distinct people and culture.
The ensemble-cast range from street vendors to knights of the realm, such as the cane cutters’ son, who became a leader of the United Nations Climate Action. Or a media-savvy prime minister considered one of the world’s top influencers. Not to mention Rihanna, a pop star who engineered a cosmetic brand that made her the youngest self-made female billionaire.
They are ordinary people, rogues, stars, and heroes who speak for themselves, demonstrating wit, wisdom, self-assurance, and an optimistic entrepreneurial spirit. Relentless research, interviews, chance meetings, personal experiences, and insights reveal a surprising truth about why Bajans are who they are.
I have over 35 years of experience building environmental and tourism solutions while writing about technology, people, and travel. In 1995, I founded the Barbados Tourism Encyclopedia, a comprehensive platform with a focused social media network. In 2013, The New York Times featured it in ‘How Hotels Use Social Media.’ I graduated with honours in business (Bcom) and Computer Science (MSc ABT). I am an active blogger/videographer and a recovering CEO software developer.
Dissection Query Agent #2
1. Cancel Culture is not universally understood, and the reference is unclear. KA suggested we drop it.
2. The Hook is diffused: It is unclear why my research differs.
3. Ordinary people are featured and followed up by stars. KA suggests adding people with more to do with the story.
4. The Hook#2 is there but not as strong as in #3
But I like that #2 mention the cane cutters son and Rihanna – My next Agent Query #4 will blend both!
Essential Resources for Authors
Manuscript Academy https://manuscriptacademy.com/
– Get personalized, creative access to the top minds in the industry, all without leaving home.
Publishers Marketplace http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/
– The biggest dedicated marketplace for publishing professionals – The place to find agents and find what they represent.
Manuscript Wishlist https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/
– One of the best search engines for agents by category- Gives a description of what the agent is looking for.
Kevin Anderson – https://www.ka-writing.com/
– Help with writing query letters, synopsis and book proposals etc.
Travel Literature – Barbados Caribbean
Rogues Publishing Journey
- Tracing Roots of the Soulful Entrepreneur
- African & Cosmic Genealogy of an Astronomer
- Brian Talma DeAction Man Genealogy
- Bussa Slave Rebellion
- Very Early Colonial History of Barbados
- Query Letter Strategy to Get an Agent
- Rogues Adventures – Rex Wotton
- African Slavery & Afro-Bajan Heritage
- Tracking African Roots of Barbados People – Marathon Man
- Discovering Bajan Roots with DNA
- History of Barbados People & The Black Experience in Canada
- The People of Barbados – Bajan Barbadian Demographics
- An Island Stands Apart in People & Geology
- Writing the Real Story of Barbados
- What Does Rogue Mean: A Historical Respective
- Barbados Caribbean Travel Literature
- Rogues Book Publishing – Literary Agent Query Letter