Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Proposals: marketing to editors/agents

Hello again

I hope the post on writing queries was helpful. It is an important skill that will help you move that first step down the path to publication.

So, let's say that you now have received a request for a proposal. After you quit jumping up and down you'll need to figure out what to put in it. This is going to be the piece of information that will not only help you get a requested full but will also be used by an editor if they take your project to the publishing board.

For this reason you want to make a strong showing. Terry Whalin has a GREAT book called "Book Proposals that Sell" and I'd encourage you to get a copy. You can purchase it from his website directly or get a printed copy from the bookstore.

You book proposal will vary based on whether it is fiction or non-fiction but there are some things every good proposal will have:

1. Back cover copy-Okay, true not every book proposal has this but think about it, what makes you buy a book when you go in a bookstore? Do you read the book jacket to find out what it's about? By offering this "enticement" at the beginning of your proposal you hopefully have the attention of the decision maker. Take some time to read the backs of books to get a feel for the style of writing based on your genre.

2. Summary-For a fiction book this will be about 2-3 typed pages [single spaced]. For a non-fiction book this will be a table of contents. The bottom line is, tell what is in this book. And just so you know, this is NOT where you want to say "And if you want to know the rest you'll have to get the book." Editors/agents do not find this cute and they won't ask for it. Tell them the whole story. I'd even suggest giving a brief [few sentences] character sketch of the 2-3 main characters.

3. Market research-Find out what other books are out there. How is yours similar? What sets yours apart? What unique take did you have in this book?

4. Marketing plan-How are you going to sell this book? The bulk of marketing will rest on your shoulders so how are you going to get word out? Give this some thought [and read the archives of this blog for some tips].

5. Sample chapters-You will need to give a sample of your writing. Usually expect 30-40 pages.

So that is the skeleton of proposal. Remember that what is most important is that you do what the publisher/editor asks of you so use this only as a suggestion or a starting point. Then build your own proposal.

Be professional, tailor the proposal to your unique voice [and the tone of the book] and take time doing it. This is your pitch, make it count.

Next time we'll talk about meeting editors and agents at conference. Hope to see you there.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

No comments: