Blogger: Rachel Kent
Location: Books & Such main office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
What “when” questions do you need to ask before writing your proposal?
Here are the two questions I believe are most important:
Question 1: When is my book set?
This is mostly for fiction, of course, but you need to establish the setting of your book before you jump into writing it. Be sure to do your research if you are writing a historical. If you are writing a contemporary, you can date your book by going into too much detail about the technology. If you describe a cell phone, or a web program, or a computer in any detail your book will “expire” in 1-2 years and some books take 1 to 2 years to release. Be careful!
Question 2: When will I complete my book?
If you are a debut novelist, you need to complete your book before you look for an agent or for an editor. If you’re writing nonfiction, be realistic about how long it will take you to complete the entire manuscript.
If you have had at least one book published in the past, you often can get a contract–even a novel–based on a proposal and sample chapters. Sometimes one published novel isn’t enough, especially if you are changing publishing houses, but talk to your agent about this.
If your circumstances call for just the proposal and sample chapters, you will need to estimate how long it will take you to complete the project after contract. This is very important! You are predicting your deadline, so be sure to give yourself enough time to write the book with life factored in. Missing a deadline can be a career killer, so you need to be sure to put a realistic date of completion into your proposal.
Have you ever had to update a book because of rapidly-changing technology? Has technology ever caused plot problems for you?