Blogger: Rachel Kent
Location: Books & Such main office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
I want today to feel like a Friday free-for-all, so opening this comment section up for you after I describe what I see as the most important “why” and “how” question you need to ask before putting together your proposal.
I see the main question as: Why (or how) will this book make a difference for the reader?
The answer often is related to your thesis. What is the takeaway? Why should the reader pick up your book over some other book? Why is your book going to be worth the money spent on it? The answer to these questions will help you to determine if this is the project you should be putting your time into. If you don’t have a strong answer, then you should restructure or move on to a new idea. If you do have a good answer, be sure that it comes across loud and clear in your proposal because editors, agents, and marketers will be looking for the answer. Why should they pick your book to publish, represent or market over the hundreds of other books they could choose?
Do you have any other questions that are important to ask before or during the proposal process? Feel free to answer questions, too. I’ll pop in at some point as well.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Melissa K Norris
This does go back to the thesis statement.
My novel, shows God’s mercy has no limits. It is given freely to us all, but we have to learn to let go of our own blinders in order to see it. I hope readers will be inspired to throw off the things that are holding them back from a true relationship with God, just like my characters do, after they walk their own Mercy Trail.
Looking forward to reading what everyone else has to say.
Thanks for helping us get a better understanding and look at proposals. Lot’s of how to’s this week.
These are challenging questions for a Friday, Rachel, but they are good ones. I feel I flounder a bit here, because I’ve seen a resurgence of historical fiction for girls with strong female leads (Call Me Kate by Molly Roe, Prisoner in the Palace by Michaela MacColl, and Caves, Cannons and Crinolines by Beverly Stowe McClure), but why would a girl pick up my book versus these others, I really don’t know.
I would like to think that the New England setting would be attractive to some. Amelia’s story takes place during the tail end of the Reconstruction Era in the US, and her best friend is an African American stable hand. She never considers the color of Ralph’s skin, but others do, including her caregiver. Mostly I think Amelia’s story will appeal to my audience because she has experienced a horrible tragedy (the death of her parents), is sent to live with a strict spinister aunt who despises her impulsive nature, and because Amelia is willing to take a great risk to improve her circumstances and the relationship she has with Aunt Martha.
How does one express that in a clear and consise manner?
Thanks for the wonderful posts this week.
At a writer’s meeting, years ago, the subject of proposals came up. “Proposals?” someone quipped from across the room. “Those are for novices.” With that, this person glanced pointedly at the time and proceeded to leave.
The remaining attendees didn’t quite know how to take the statement OR the easy dismissal of such an important topic. Ultimately, the speaker at the time handled the whole thing very diplomatically.
That meeting had a profound impact on me. You see, I was the one who the person was responding to when I asked, “What’s a proposal?”
I learned something that day, and I’m still learning. I’m not too proud to admit that.
Thank you, Rachel, for such a timely series this week!
I’ve been thinking about the questions you have asked, but am especially intrigued by,”Why is your book going to be worth the money spent on it?” I know each one of us can justify our reasons…but honestly, isn’t this a very subjective issue? And probably the best we can hope for is that someone will eventually support our conclusion.
I’m guessing persistence and perseverance will continue to be a defining factor in publication.
I appreciate the questions you have raised. Refining and focusing seems to be a direct result of great questions! Looking forward to reading comments from others!
In a market saturated with unstable relationships and self-destructive, even nihilistic attitudes towards sex and romance, I would hope the reader comes away with an understanding of the need for grace for anyone to understand another.
Ah, but in a market defined by such darkness, why would anyone choose to read anything else? First, the novel presents a viewpoint unique to the market: the protagonist is male. This offers insights that the base of the genre seeks (seeking to know how to navigate the emotional minefield of modern relationships) and answers a question they cannot get from just about any other book in the market. Namely, what does a guy want in a relationship? How does a man approach love and romance? Written from a male perspective, the novel counters many of the stereotypes and misinformation regarding how men view their responsibilities and needs from a relationship.
A coming of age story, it respects the dangers for anyone attempting to seek love in the modern world, while also providing clarity in choosing a Godly vision of love.
Now regarding other questions: the most important questions an author needs to ask after the proposal process (if the agent accepts your proposal) is why they feel that your work can be successfully marketed and what the books means to them.
The first question might sound redundant (after all, you had to answer it yourself in the proposal), but consider this dear writer: your agent works day after day in the publishing world, with editors and the process of getting books acquired by publishers, so if there is anyone who can give you better insight into the realistic possibilities of how your book will do, it is your agent. This will help you in deciding how to coordinate a media strategy (are authors in your genre frequently interviewed or reviewed by local media, are there any conferences you could potentially be asked to speak at and so forth. Basically you get a good idea of the infrastructure already in place for you to discuss your novel).
The second question is perhaps most important. If you have an agent who truly feels that your novel matters, there is no limit to how far they will go on your behalf in persuading editors and publishers about the merits of your work. That’s the reason they joined the industry, after all; to get good books out into the hands of readers.
My books have always reflected difficult situations that make my hero and heroine face struggles when dealing with forgiveness. Ultimately they see God’s fingerprints on their lives that led them to that place and they lean on that to see them through the challenges set before them.
Life is full of struggles that leave us fighting to let go of anger and resentment. If we stop long enough to see God’s fingerprints then we can see His path for us, leading us to forgiveness and ultimately, healing.
I would hope that my readers someday look at my character’s situations and think…wow if they could find it in their hearts to let go and forgive then why I am holding on so tight?
Can the answer ever be ” pure entertainment”? The ability to sweep a reader away from their own mundane life/relationships/daily grind. To introduce a character to make you fall in love, believe in love again…or even, as is the case with one of my test readers who is texting me after every chapter, to send on a journey back into their own past (or even contact an old boyfriend). Does each story really need a moral? I don’t like being preached at in books, and I understand it is the author’s job to get the point or moral across in a way that isn’t preachy, but can’t a story be left up to interpretation? I like that each of my readers has come away with a different feeling, and that to me is more important- to FEEL rather than LEARN…oh, I think I just figured out my thesis!!!!