Dear Writer –
Hello, my name is Ben LeRoy and I’m the Publisher of Tyrus Books. I’ve been a big fan of your work for years, and figured I’d someday get around to contacting you. It seems you got the short end of the stick with the responsibility of writing a query letter. I’d like to jump into the pit with you in the interest of solidarity.
About my project:
Tyrus Books publishes about a dozen books per year in the crime and literary genres. Our books get award consideration and are reviewed in major trade and consumer publications. We’ve established a pretty good reputation for publishing exceptional books. We aim to keep that reputation.
What I’m looking for–and I need you to really hear me now—are books about real people who have ended up in tough situations. I don’t want books that feature Tough Guy protagonists who can karate kick all the bad guys in the face. I don’t want reheated plots from television shows we’ve already seen. If your protagonist is in law enforcement or any initialed government agency, a serial killer, or involved with organized crime, then your protagonist isn’t for me. I don’t want superficial stories. If depth is sacrificed at the Altar of Breakneck Speed, I don’t want it. I’m much more interested in the guy/gal driving the car than I am in the chase.
We don’t only do crime fiction. If you write literary fiction (however it might be defined), to get an idea of what we do, you might want to check out Untouchable by Scott O’Connor and/or Graphic the Valley by Peter Brown Hoffmeister.
Samples of our books can be found on our website. Browse at your leisure.
The crummy thing about publishing as a business is that it is filled with all sorts of undesirable calculations based on junk science and corporate witchcraft. It’s not sexy to think about things like “the bottom line” and “profit margin” when there are so many incredible stories to be told, but those not sexy things are real and, with people above me looking out for big picture things, I am beholden to the not sexy details.
For a book to be published, it has to be dragged through a meeting with sales, publicity, and budget folks who will all have their own questions. Some of the questions I have to answer, regardless of my enthusiasm for a title are:
• Has the author previously published a book and if so, what were the sales numbers?
• Is there a market for the book that will make the book a financially viable project?
• Does the author have a readymade audience?
• Are there any well-known authors who would provide a blurb for the book?
I know. I know. I hate these questions, too. I hate that business considerations sometimes trump artistic considerations. I hate that I am part of the machine that I want to kill. But that’s where we are and that’s what we do, and, to be fair to the machine, it’s hard to put out new books without a steady stream of money.
So, that’s about it. If you’re familiar with our line (with free samples all over our website, there’s no excuse not to be) and you think you’ve written something that would be a good fit for us, send us a query letter (submissionsATtyrusbooks.com). Tell us a little bit about your book and you, and if it does look like a match, we’ll let you know. I want to say that if it isn’t a match that we’ll let you know, but I know, even with all of the best intentions I’ve ever had, sometimes that doesn’t actually happen. If you don’t hear from us at all, please know that we wish you well on your journey.
P.S. If you have questions about Tyrus, our process, what we’re looking for, send them along and we’ll include them below.