The Dreaded Book Proposal


The time has come.

A little over a year ago, after hearing about the book I was writing, an author friend suggested I find an agent. I didn’t feel ready. In fact, I felt completely inadequate as a writer with so much more to learn, that while I felt encouraged by her advice, I simply couldn’t follow it at the time. Six months ago, a well known author critiqued a portion of my first novel at the Mt Hermon Christian Writers Conference and indicated that I should consider looking for an agent and thinking about which publishing house I’d like for my contemporary fiction manuscript. Her advice forced me to embrace the idea that perhaps the time was nearing for me to look for an agent.

I can’t put it off any longer.

I’ve finished the first book and with eighty pages written on the novel, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m at the point of needing to write a proposal to find an agent. Can I just say that writing two books has been easier?

I described the situation to my seventh grade daughter like this…

Imagine you are given an assignment (let’s say a paper to write for your language class…). You’ve spent many hours constructing this piece of writing. You’ve written, re-written, had it critiqued, edited, re-written (the fifteenth time now) and finally you like it enough to turn it in. BUT before your teacher will accept your paper, you must write a compelling letter (query) with only enough information and intrigue to make her want to see a summary of your assignment (proposal).

If your teacher decides your letter is persuasive enough, she may ask you to submit the summary of your paper. You hope this is the case.

Now the situation gets even more difficult.

This summary must capture her attention. Each sentence must lead her to the next, and the next creating a longing in her to see your full assignment. (No pressure here!) What if it’s too short? Or too long? How many pages exactly is a “summary”? Do you have enough information to leave her feeling confident with your ability to write, or is it too much and boring her? What details are imperative to create a good feel for the storyline and which are superfluous? What other papers have been written about your topic? Are they same, or different and in what ways? Finally, do you write the author bio in first or third person??

Wow, Mom! That’s intense! I’m glad I don’t have to do my schoolwork that way.

To which I answered, “So am I sweetheart. So am I. Now you know why I put up my little sign that announces, “I’m in my zone. Please do not disturb.”

She got it.

For all of you out there who have written, are writing or still dread the day when you will finally have to write…a book proposal, I salute you. I admire you. Nice job. Keep it up. Don’t delay (it may take longer than it did to write your book). May you find an agent who feels compelled at the “Dear Sir.”

What is your book proposal writing experience? Have you found ways to make it easier?
 

A great resource: http://michaelhyatt.com/writing-a-winning-book-proposal