By Wendy Lawton
Last time I blogged I wrote about what not to say when someone asks the novelist, “What is your novel about?” A couple of readers on Facebook asked if I’d tackle some dos and don’ts for nonfiction writers. Okay. I’m up for the challenge.
But. . . before I do that, a quick note for any of you who are preparing for NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month), you must check out Kara Benz’ Boho Berry blog about “Preptober” for NANOWRIMO. She has created a charming free downloadable digital journal for writers. Some of you may know Boho Berry as THE spot for bullet journal ideas and graphics.
So, let’s dig into some quick dos and don’ts of pitching your nonfiction book.
Don’t talk in big theme ideas. “My book is about prayer.”
Do start with the distinctives. “My book, Praying with Your Eyes Open, encourages the reader to learn to use concrete prompts to pray— like red lights when driving or waiting at the stove for water to boil.”
Don’t bog down in minutiae. “89% of North American Christians believe prayer is. . ..” Yawn. A pitch needs to draw the listener in, not put him to sleep. Your proposal will show the need for the book.
Do talk about the benefits of the book. “This book breaks down prayer into its simplist parts. Prayer can be as short as an exhale or as elemental as ‘help.’ Readers will experiment in prayer in a whole new way.”
Don’t talk about how many other books you’ve written on different subjects. “I’ve written ten books, three on theology, an academic book, four Bible studies and two children’s books.”
Do talk about how you are the go-to person for this very subject. How you have been blogging and YouTubing about everyday prayer for x-number of years. Talk about your platform and the events you’ve keynoted on this subject. Publishers no longer want writers who can write on any subject, they want to publish books from those who’ve already tested and tried their material before real folk and have amassed a following.
Don’t get stuck on the content. “I begin with a history of prayer, starting in the Old Testament and. . .”
Do cover the features to give the agent or editor an idea how you’ve structured the book. “The book consists of twelve unique prayer possibilities. Each chapter has a sidebar of prayer prompts, pull quotes and a feature offering three short Bible passages that can be memorized as the basis of a prayer that would fit the situation.”
These are just a few dos and don’ts. Feel free to give us some others in the comments.