Sad Men

What Writers Can Learn from the Great Depression

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Pitch Letter for ‘Sad Men’

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I’m writing about nonfiction book query letters on GalleyCat, and I realized that it is very hard to find sample query letters online.

To help other writers, here is a copy of my query letter that eventually became this book project…

Sad Men will recreate the seven most miserable years ever faced by American writers. My dramatic history will begin during the long winter of 1933, following a crew of ruined literary luminaries, burnt-out pulp fiction scribes, and future Federal Writers Project employees. The book will conclude in 1939 as a controversial federal bailout sent writers back to work and the World’s Fair revived the city. Readers will discover some uncanny similarities to our recession, but my book will ultimately remind us that our literary ancestors have been here before—and they survived.



I’ll tell the stories of a bestselling author peddling poems in Washington Square Park, an alcoholic poet preaching revolution in radical verse, and an unemployed reporter bumming around a shantytown in Central Park. My book will also follow a few pulp fiction masters, populating the Depression-era landscape with H.P. Lovecraft’s monsters, Dashiell Hammett’s detectives, and Buck Rogers’ space ships. Finally, my book will focus on the unique disaster of the Federal Writers Project (FWP), a bureaucratic beehive that employed more than 600 writers in highly combustible workplace, including brilliant authors like Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, and John Cheever.

I’ve already written three essays about New York City writers and the Great Depression: “Bohemian Rhapsody” for The Believer, “And Wow He Died As Wow He Lived” for Poetry Foundation, and “Sad Men" for Wabash Magazine

If you are interested, I would love to send you a copy of my proposal and a sample chapter. Thank you for your time and consideration.