Sunday, July 6, 2008

Writing Your Book Proposal - Part 1 (of 3)

Recently I gave a talk on writing book proposals and I thought I'd share some of the info here for all you future authors wondering where to start.

From Book Proposals That Sell by Terry Whalin: “According to a survey from the Jenkins Group Inc … 81% of Americans feel they should write a book …” and yet, only 2% of the population has ever actually written a manuscript, let alone gotten it published.

Writing fiction and non fiction is very different. At least it is for me. In fiction I feel like I can experiment, start from the middle, work my way through the story. But with non-fiction there is a lot more structure. It needs to be logical, it needs to have a straight forward plot.

Writing from word 1 through to word 50,001 may not work. You need to build a framework and then fill it in so you can be sure not to miss portions of the book or run into structuring issues.
Some things to think about AFTER the lightening strike IDEA and before you start the proposal.

To flesh out the idea before you put it on paper:

Readers very selfish, “what’s in this for me”. Publishers are also selfish, “what’s in it for me and will my customers (readers) like it.” The big question your proposal needs to answer, “will it sell”?

Why publishers like book proposals:

  • You are looking for a publisher to make an investment so this is almost like asking a bank to finance a project, except you are assuming no financial risk. $50,000 per book. Sales projections are calculated so that the publisher can factor costs right down to the amount of ink needed to create the book.
  • A proposal is a snapshot of the project as a whole and are used to take the book through the approval process from editorial, planning, concept, marketing meetings. All decisions are done by committee.
  • Proposals show how well the author knows her subject and that she has recognized that the publisher needs to examine many different aspects of the project

Stay tuned tomorrow for some more...

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