Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Proposal to tame the book

Proposal to tame the book


Proposal to tame the book

Oh the most maddening of documents! For many of us eager to move on with our non-fiction projects, it looms like a guard in the queen's castle, blocking the way to publication. His perfection eludes us, but he stands there joking: "Complete me or your manuscript will never see the light of day, mwahahahaha!"

In truth, that is a lie. Each author has the option of self-publishing. However, there are advantages to writing a book proposal rather than a complete book.

One advantage is that it generally takes less time than writing an entire book. Two, create the possibility of getting paid to write his book, maybe just a few thousand dollars, maybe tens or even hundreds of thousands. Three, he forces you to clarify what you are doing with your book, on several levels.

Even if you want to self-publish, a book proposal serves as a kind of business plan for your book. The time and energy invested in researching, evaluating, and comparing your ideas early on will pay off many times over in the future. After all, wouldn't you rather find out now that someone else has said similar things more eloquently and get a chance to amend your manuscript, than publish the damn thing only to read terrible, or worse, no reviews?

The process of polishing your book proposal is also an exercise in discipline and focus. It highlights the purpose of your book, its scope, depth, and message. It will get your thinking muscles in the best shape possible to produce the most commercial book you are capable of. However, you need to put in the time and energy to educate yourself, progress through multiple drafts, and polish this giant of a document to perfection, or hire someone who knows how to do just that.


Here are some answers to questions you may be asking right now:

What is a book proposal?

A book proposal is a document intended to sell publishing staff for a particular non-fiction book. It's the way major publishers publish most nonfiction books. It looks a lot like a business plan on the proposed book. It can have between 10 and 100 double-spaced, 12 point, 8 1/2 x 11 pages; most are 20 to 60 pages long, including sample chapters. You generally use a very specific format and specialized language to present your case.

What does the book proposal do?

It answers a series of typical questions that different departments of book publishers must answer when deciding on which handful of proposals, out of hundreds, to risk. Act on your behalf and on behalf of your book to answer questions like, Why is this book above everyone else in your class? Because right now? Why this author?

Who sees my book proposal first, an agent or a publisher?

It depends on whether you choose to have an agent represent you or go directly to the publishers. Many publishers will not accept unmanaged material, so be sure to check a specific publisher's guidelines first.

What does the book proposal contain?

Typically, a book proposal contains a cover, a table of contents, along with the following sections: overview, author biography, author's marketing plan, buyer's market analysis, comparative and / or competitor books, outline, sample chapters.

The general description contains a hook, or a means of temptation, attracts the editor and offers a general summary of the purpose of the book. It's like an article about the book. It should make you want to read it all!

The author's biography puts each and every one of his experiences related to the writing of the book, in the best way. It is different from a resume or CV. It looks a lot like the "about the author" advertisements you see on the back of published books, below the author's photo.

The author's marketing plan, or "what the author will do to promote the book," shows the publisher that you know what it takes to sell your book and details how you plan to do it. These days, ironically, publishers don't spend a lot of money on advertising, unless you're already famous. An author with a well thought out marketing plan will stand out from most others who pay much less attention to this section, thinking instead that the editor will take care of it.

The complementary and competing books section identifies and describes books that directly compete with and also complement the proposed book. The purpose of this section is to show editors what has been done before and how their book fits. The reason for this section is twofold: one, many editors are too busy to keep regIstros up-to-the-minute on what's being done in all fields, so trust the author to educate you on what's out there. Two, many editors know exactly what's out there and want to know how their work compares.

Here's a paradox: On the one hand, you want to point to books X, Y, and Z as evidence that this topic you're writing about is really hot. On the other hand, you want to make a strong case that another book, that is, yours, is still needed and why. Therefore, you must point out firmly but tactfully (you never know how the person reading your proposal is related to his competition) what theirs will do that others have not.

Market analysis defends the book's audience size. It usually covers a broad view of current interests and buying patterns in the broader culture that bodes well for the book. It may include recent movies, television documentaries, membership data in organizations or clubs, social or ethnic groups whose constituents would be likely buyers of the book. For example, a book on an exercise topic might cite the circulation of major fitness magazines, membership in health clubs, or recent television shows on related topics. This approach can be adapted to any topic: parenting, cancer, gardening, dogs, mental illness, business, or entrepreneurship.

The chapter outline tells chapter by chapter what your book contains, and the sample chapters, usually around 30 pages, represent the best samples of your writing.

Why are so many book proposals rejected?

Most book proposals are rejected because the ideas presented in them fail to convince the publisher that the author has a worthwhile (read: marketable) project. Making a project attractive to an editor is a specialized skill, very different from creating the project itself.

In my experience, authors, whether fictional or nonfiction, are creative people by nature. If you are reading this, chances are that at some point in your life you have fallen in love with an idea or ideas and have felt the need to translate your thoughts into the world in book form. Your mind is alive. Do you have something to say.

A successful book proposal, on the other hand, is a specialized marketing document that follows a particular form and answers very specific questions in a way that gets you a "Yes!" from the editors. Unless your field is marketing and, in particular, book marketing for publishers, you probably have no experience creating a book proposal. And why should you? For most authors, it's not as fun as working and playing with your own ideas.

Most of my clients who give me book proposals to review, even those who have read books I recommended to them and claim to have followed them, give me proposals almost certainly scheduled to be rejected. An excellent book proposal is a difficult document for most authors to produce on their own. However, help abounds!

If you are determined to write your book proposal on your own, you can really follow the instructions and have the patience to polish your work with dozens or hundreds of reviews, I highly recommend Michael Larsen's book, How to Write a Book Proposal, and the proposal to write the perfect book by Jeff Herman. Read them, study them, write your proposal, rewrite it several dozen times (no, I'm not kidding), and have it professionally reviewed by someone who really knows what they're doing. Polish it to perfection, in this business, where 99% of all proposals will be rejected, good enough just isn't.

Then if you want an agent, be sure to find one with a successful job sales history like yours, otherwise your polished proposal can sparkle, twinkle, and shine to ungrateful, unskilled eyes. Unless the agent has specified otherwise, consult them first through a one to one and a half page letter. For the consultation, read and study How to Write Cover Letters and Eye-catching Inquiries from John Wood. Then do it. Spend at least three weeks on this inquiry letter and get feedback from at least three people, at least one of whom really knows the field.