Thursday, December 14, 2006

So You Want To Write A Book? Lesson 4

The blog is back! Please forgive me for the lapse in time. A lot of changes in my hosting and then my old url got taken over by spammers! New address, but we're here. Bookmark our new address and again accept our apologies for the hiatus!

What a busy 2006! Things sure moved fast and furious at publishers and magazines back in New York. It’s called the shuffle. Lots of editors moved to different publications. And a lot of editors are headed out for their Christmas break until January. At which time, all these editors will be looking at new pitches. So let’s jump back in to our series.

The last time we discussed proposals, we covered fresh ideas, title brainstorming, and proposal reference books. Hopefully, you’re going through some of those references and have figured out the basic premise of your book idea.

Today, we’re going to talk about the basic pieces of a book proposal.

Cover letter (query)

A cover letter is the most important piece of your proposal and should probably only be roughed out at the beginning. Save the final edit for last, because it's your first impression! And the most important, thus should be last.

The Proposal

The proposal itself has many components, and I'm going to run through them quickly in this post.


The Big Idea, in capsule form. You're showing that the book idea is meaningful, special, interesting, and marketable; that it can be a cohesive book-length work. Remember, writing small like this is harder than writing the book.


How is the book going to be organized


Who's out there doing the same thing, or doing something similar and how does your stand out?


How do you intend to market this book? Any immediately strategies come to mind?


When is the book going to be finished?


What makes you the right person to write this book?


Anybody read the book idea and love it? Not your family and friends, please. Think published authors, experts, or celebrities.

Supporting materials

Are people really interested in this book idea? Has it been covered in the news or in a magazine article? If the exact idea has already been on Oprah . . . well now. The point is that not a LOT of people have already heard the information, but that it's on the upward motion to becoming something people will be talking about. See the difference? Everybody already knows about the Dunstan Baby Language, so a book on your baby language might be a hard sell, or not. Depends on how you package your idea.

So with that overview, please do check out Eric Maisel's book "The Art of the Book Proposal: From Focused Idea to Finished Proposal" and stay tuned as we start what Eric calls "chunking" in our next post.

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