How all this life would vanish, evaporate, if I didn't clutch at it, cling to it, while I still remember some twinge or glory. Sylvia Plath
My goal is not to bore you with the mechanics of writing a book proposal. Rather my blog is meant to show what I've learned as a novice, having possessed an insatiable need to write my story and get it out of my head. I want to reach others who have stories of their own chewing at their insides. And give them hope and encouragement to step off the edge and feel the wind in their face.
I'm still unsure how, or who will publish my book, I can only share the steps I've taken and why. A book proposal is part of this process. Each of us must find our own way . . . this is my uncharted journey.
You don't write because you want to say something: You write because you've got something to say. F. Scott Fitzgerald
Your book proposal must answer these questions:
Why this book?
The crucial first paragraphs of your introduction must hook the editor with the single most exciting thing you can write that makes your book new, needed and timely. You have approximately 20 seconds to get their attention. How's that for pressure?
Below is a brief description of each phase of my proposal:
Premise - Your topic must stand out and fill a distinct need with national, and possibly international appeal.
Overview - Show how your book satisfies that need by reaching your readers curiosity, heart or mind. Think of this section as an expanded book-jacket blurb.
Manuscript - Status of your manuscript and book proposal. How long until completion, or completed?
Note: It's best to have a book proposal completed when you begin to send query letters. Agents and publishers need this tool, if they're interested. Delay may quench that appeal.
Charastics of reader - Know your readers. Who will buy your book?
Statistics - Are there statistics that show a growing need for your topic? If so, show them.
Example: US Military in Afghanistan had lost 761 soldiers in combat, but a higher number in service. 817 had taken their own lives over the same period. The surge of suicide has risen five years in a row. Mark Thompson - Time Magazine April 13, 2010.
Competition - List other books on your topic, and show why yours is different and/or unique.
The Author - Emphasize your authority for writing the book. I was intimitated as a writer with no prior achievements. In class, I was told to list writing classes, conferences, community functions I've attended, and any other areas that might give me creditability.
Mission Statment - Optional.
Synopsis - This was more difficult. In the end, I condensed my entire book to 5 single-spaced pages. This included chapter highlights, noting each main character, important scenes, and the end.
Sample Chapters - In this area, I chose my first chapter, and one of my "best" chapters. A chapter filled with action and emotion.
Writing my book proposal was a labor of love. It was complex and demanding, but it helped me to grow as a writer. For this I am grateful.
New Zealand . . . I'm so jealous of their accent
My trip to Auckland was amazing, other than some cold rainy days. I arrived almost 2 hours late, which upset Max (7) who alerted others in the airport his Nana was missing. And I noticed Charlie (4) had picked up some of the accent. My favorite word was "Da-dee." I loved it!
One afternoon, my daughter and I took a ferry to Waiheke Island for lunch at the Mudbrick Vineyard. Our view overlooked the vineyards to the sea where we watched the rain approach. We sipped white wine made from grapes grown there, while dining on elegantly prepared dishes. But I must warn you . . . don't order the scallops because you only get TWO. And I was hungry.
The days were filled new places, new faces and lovely food. Too many to mention here. A few things I found unique: Children weren't required to wear shoes in school . . . Cars drive on the other side of the street, which is scary going up a mountain . . . Time seems to go more slowly . . . People are extremely polite, cars drive slower, and no one ever honks their horn. Can you imagine?
The night before I left, we were invited to a lovely dinner at a neighbors, whose parents and their friends were visiting from Australia. It was one of the nicest evenings I can remember. And my son-in-laws roasted beet root with sliced avacado was a hit.
It was a wonderful trip and I'm thrilled I went, even though it was winter. Thank you, Tiff and Scott for your gracious hospitality.
Lesson Learned . . . my two cents
Writing a book proposal is much like eating an elephant . . . one bite at a time.