Posted tagged ‘book proposal’

Writing a Book Proposal

January 29, 2010

A while back, I wrote this piece about what happens to your book once it’s been accepted at a publishing house. But, before a writer gets to that point, they have to do a lot of work – including write a book proposal. Generally, if a writer is interested in writing a book, they do one of four things.

1) Contact their existing agent, and see if the agent thinks the new book is a good idea. If the agent doesn’t, they either don’t write the book or they decide to find another agent for that book. If the agent likes the idea, they will work together to create a book proposal.

2) The writer creates a query letter about their book that they send to agents, hoping to find one that thinks they can sell the book. If someone shows interest in the query letter, the writer will then create a book proposal. The agent will look over the proposal, and if they are still interested in representing the book (ie. they think they can sell it to a publisher) they work with the author to improve the book proposal and perhaps look at the manuscript if it is already written. Then they begin submitting the proposal to publishers who they think may be interested in the work.

3) The writer creates a book proposal and submits THIS to agents. If an agent is interested, then the steps are the same as in option 2, starting with where the agent reviews the proposal.

4) A writer will send a proposal or a manuscript directly to a publisher. This is generally the least successful method for a number of reasons that I will not get into here.

So, all of these, excepting the last one, boil down to creating a book proposal. So what exactly IS a book proposal, anyway?


I thought I’d done the hard part – I wrote it, now what?

February 26, 2008

Many writers spend hours working on a piece – be it a book or an article – but you don’t know what to do with it once it’s done. The process is a little different, of course, with books and articles, but the process is similar enough to give a general over view.

Okay – so you’ve finished your masterpiece (or you have an idea for one). Now you need to figure out how you’re going to get it into print. In the case of a article, the best way is to ‘query’ a potential magazine or newspaper that publishes things like yours. When I said ‘like yours’ you want to analyze similarity based on not only topic, but also length and type – for example if you have a 800 word piece that profiles a cusine expert, you want to make sure that the publication you’re targeting accepts 800 word profiles.

If you’re writing a book, generally you want to draft a book proposal; if you have an agent, they will help you with this. If not, it is a general idea of what your book is about and why the publisher should publish it. Like with an article, you want to make sure that the publishing companies you’re targeting are appropriate. Don’t send a fantasy novel to Columbia University Press! (They don’t do profile books either). Review the companies websites carefully.

An easy way to find appropriate venues that might publish you is to look through Writer’s Market. They list publishing companies and magazines with descriptions of what they publish, who to contact, and an idea how much they pay.

Once you send in you’re piece, be patient. If you don’t hear back right away, chances are your editor is swamped and might not have even looked at the piece yet. They can’t decide it’s amazing until after they look at it, after all.

Just a point to remember (I’m stealing this from a writing book, though from memory and I can’t re which one): Editors WANT to publish you. They want your idea to be amazing when they open it, so that they can be the one to say “look what I found.” They want to discover the next great writer – so give it to them!