Last week, Janet Grant wrote about the importance of writing an excellent comparative book section in your book proposal. You can find that post here. Those kind of specifics are invaluable.
But I can almost hear the collective writerly groans when we talk about book proposals so I want to back up and make the case for simply creating the best proposal you can create. Too often I hear writers say, “I hate writing the proposal. I can’t wait until I get to the place when I can sell a book with a paragraph or two.”
I’m here to say I hope you never get to that place. Too many well-published authors are getting sloppier and sloppier about their proposals. It’s a big mistake. Let me tell you why:
- The proposal process helps you nail down the book, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. The very act of creating a book proposal helps you decide exactly what the book is and what it isn’t. When it comes time to sit down and write the book, your proposal is your blueprint.
- Doing a good job on the competitive book section lets you see what is on the market and gives you the information to make your book distinctive.
- A thorough proposal gives your agent the tools she needs to not only effectively pitch your book but also to get downright excited about it. My newer authors are giving me proposals that make publishers open their wallets.
- A superb proposal gives the acquiring editor everything he needs to take your book to committee.
- It’s also the perfect roadmap for sales and marketing to get a handle on your book.
- Back cover copy often comes right off a great proposal.
- Your synopsis or book description goes a long way toward helping the cover designer come up with the perfect design.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. You’d never think of starting a business without a business plan. No one would ever offer a grant without a carefully thought out grant application. Why do writers think they can offer a book to their publisher without a carefully constructed proposal?
If you’ve been writing for a long time and think you are long past having to write a proposal, I’d love to show you the kind of work being done by unpublished writers. It’s one of the reasons publishers are eagerly looking at new writers and feeling ho-hum about mid-list writers. Too many are cutting corners and just mailing it in these days. Big mistake. Big. Mistake.
My question for you: How can you reignite a passion for doing the hard work of writing? the unglamorous business part of writing?