Friday, August 27, 2010

Last of the Cherries

This week at WalMart and $1.99 a pound.  What a deal.

I'm going to post something from Gerard Van Der Leun's blog.  He's so clever and such a good writer, don't hold the fact that he was an editor and agent against him.  ;-)  I can't imagine that anyone who comes here could care about a book proposal now.  Who of us is going to write a proposal and sent it to an agent or editor?  By the time they get back to us, the book could be completed and selling at Amazon.

That said,  these are the kind of thoughts serious writers should always have in their minds whether they're aiming at tradpub or digital.

The 330 Word Book Proposal Schematic in 5 Parts
1) What the Book is About (1 -2 Pages)
Start with the title and subtitle. Make these two elements as attention grabbing as possible. They will be the "handle" the editor uses for pitching the book to the acquisition committee.
Single-spaced, this section sets out the condensed form of the book. Think of it as expanded jacket copy.
What's it about? What's its point of view. What is the arc and shape of the book? What patterns will it reveal? How will it educate, illuminate, amuse or inspire? Why is the book important now?
Function: This section gives the acquiring editor reasons for recommending the book for publication.
2) Chapter by Chapter Outline of the Book
Each chapter is given a title and then one or two paragraphs that set out what will be covered in the chapter when written.
Function: The allows the editor understand the structure of the book.
3) Sample Chapter
Pick one chapter from the outline and write it start to finish.
Function: This allows the editor to know how the author will write the book and, indeed, if the author can in fact write.
4) Core Market for the Book (1 Page)
Who is going to buy the book?
Who are the people who will be interested in the book?
Be fairly specific here. It's not a "There are 300 million people in the United States and they all eat, therefore my cook book...." argument. Editors want to have some idea of the "hard-core" market of buyers' the people who have to have it.
Indicate other similar and/or complimentary books and influential magazine / web articles on the subject.
Function: Helps the editor identify and quantify the possible market for the book.
5) Why the Author is Qualified to Write This Book. (1 Page)
Why you? What are the author's particular qualifications for writing this book? Include degrees, writing experience, web credentials, background.
Function: Allows the editor to know that the author has the expertise to write the book.

Let me say that I don't specifically write for the market.  I have in the past.  I wrote for television, what's more market than that?  If I wrote for the market, based on what I read at Joe Konrath's blog, I'd be writing police procedurals, I wouldn't be in the middle of Sweet Cider a novel that has to be considered young adult which is a category that hasn't come alive.  Yet.

This is a good time to remember what the terrific (I mean it, go to Amazon or the library and get one of his novels this week) author Mordecai Richler talked about in a New York Times Book Review years ago.  Apparently while on a book tour, his itinerary matched that of some romance writers.  He wasn't specific who, maybe it was Judy Krantz or Danielle Steele.  He wasn't dismissive of them or their work in the least.  What he was saying was that they believed it.  That's what made it work for them and their readers.  These women weren't faking, they weren't phoning it in.  A writer needs to believe in their bones what they're writing or it never rings true.

I don't believe vampires.  I don't grok police procedurals.  That's where the money is.  So what.

Whatever you write, believe in it.  If you were going to die when you wrote the last word of this project, is this what you want to be remembered for?

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