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I'm having trouble finding information on publishing specifically prescriptive nonfiction books. I have a how-to DEI business book I am trying to publish. I already have a manuscript and a good business platform, and am planning on publishing more books in the future. I would preferably publish at Harper Business, but they don't accept unsolicited queries. This confuses me because from what I have read, it seems most prescriptive nonfiction authors don't need an agent, except for cookbooks. Maybe I have too many questions for one post, but here they are:

  1. Is it a good idea to have a literary agent to publish a prescriptive nonfiction book?
  2. Just to clarify--publishers take book proposals, while literary agents take query letters, right?
  3. Can I tell my literary agent what publishing house I would prefer?
  4. Can I query publishers that accept unsolicited queries and literary agents at the same time?

I am leaning towards a literary agent, but I don't know if that is uncommon for the type of book I am trying to sell.

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  • How to die? Interesting.
    – Ben
    Apr 24 at 15:33
  • 1
    @Ben How to DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion). I'll edit a definition link into the question for clarity.
    – F1Krazy
    Apr 25 at 7:55

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  1. Publishing houses will let you know (and indeed usually specify this on their website) whether they accept manuscript submissions and, if so, in which genres.

  2. A book proposal is a proposal to write a book. You don't send a proposal for a book that you have already written. Both a manuscript submission and a book proposal are accompanied by a query letter. Both book proposals and manuscript submissions may be submitted to both publishers and agents.

  3. Yes and no. Finding the right publishing house is the job of the agent. Don't presume to know better than they do. But you can certainly discuss potential publishers with them.

  4. You can submit to multiple publishers at the same time. You should never submit to multiple agents, or an agent and a publisher, at the same time.

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