The Art of The Proposal
I recently attended the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC). While there, I pitched one of my stories t a few people, and they requested a book proposal be sent to them.
Now, I am totally excited about this. Who wouldn’t be? The thought of being traditionally published is enough to make me jump up and down like a little girl, but now I have to muddle my way through the dreaded book proposal, and I thought I would bring you all along for the journey!
Over the next few weeks, we are going to be looking at fiction proposal writing, and why it is important for both independently published authors as well as traditionally published authors.
First thing’s first, what is a proposal? A basic fiction book proposal includes a cover letter or query letter, synopsis, marketing strategy, and the first three chapters of the book. It is your business idea for your book. Why should the agent or editor invest in your project? What makes it different from other books? How do you plan to market it to your readers?
Now, I can see most of my independent authors huffing and rolling their eyes right about now. “But I don’t need to sell my book to an agent or publisher, I do all of that myself,” they say as they cross their arms and lean back in their office chair. And they are right in the sense that they don’t have to sell their work to a publishing house or agent for representation. Their task is much harder. They have to sell their work to you. That’s where a book proposal can come in handy, because you need to do all of that marketing analysis and comparative titles research before you put your book out there.
Why do you think traditional publishers require a proposal? To make you want to pull your hair out and scream at books at Barnes & Noble because they aren’t like yours? No, they want to know you’ve done your research. In order for you to sell something, you have to know about the product and its competitors. You have to research your business and explain how your idea is different and better than the others already out there before a bank will loan you the money to start it up.
Writing, whether you’re independently or traditionally published, is a business. The first thing you need to do after the book is completed is to take off your writer’s cap and put on your business cap.
Marketing is the most important part of book sales. How are people going to read your book if they don’t know it exists? Even if you have a traditional publisher backing you, you’re still going to need to market your book yourself, and they want to be sure you know what you’re doing.
If you’re independently published, you still need all of that information. In fact, I think you need it more as an indie author. You need to focus on the marketing strategies that will get you the most for your investment, and what better way to do this than to see what works for more established authors. How are they doing it? What makes you buy a book?
Next week, we’ll discuss competing titles and how to find them. Together we are going to tackle this beast of a book proposal!