I survived the hottest recorded day in Phoenix—122 degrees, June of 1990.
Slogan tee-shirts celebrated our feat of endurance and brought camaraderie to Phoenicians. Strangers on the street—If we were crazy enough to be outside that particular June—shook heads and bonded without muttering a word. Normally in metropolitan Phoenix, people don’t make eye contact with strangers. But survivors bond.
On writing island, the heat’s rising and the competition’s growing.
Passivity kills. We must seize all survival tools to inhabit, flourish, and keep our cool. There’s a handy item in the writer’s backpack that can catch the eye of tribal leaders.
A Killer Book Proposal!
I hear your groans. I groaned when the mercury hit 122.
But book proposals create eye contact with your agent or editor.
If you need a format, here’s a simplified version of the one from my backpack.
Title Page – Title, author’s name, and literary agent’s contact information.
Proposal Overview – This vital area creates initial eye contact. It’s the premise for a book or series. Be precise. 1-2 sentences for each book.
Synopsis – Deepen interest. About three pages of story summary (My most recent included a twist and a takeaway) After that, do a ¾ page synopsis for each sequel. Note how the books tie together. (For nonfiction proposals, this area contains chapter outline and short summaries)
Manuscript Details – Word count and date when the finished manuscripts can be available (First time authors need to have the manuscript completed)
Author’s Uniqueness – One page. Includes education, credentials, awards, and personal experiences which relate to your book, your writing style as compared to others, and genre. If you’re published, bring in quotes and snippets of reviews to describe your writing.
Marketing – Bullet style, brainstorm what will sell the book. If you write romance, are there some romantic elements that will appeal to readers? Mention them. Tell what you’re already doing to promote your platform or books. Explain what you’re willing to do. List your website and blog links. Talk about your social media outreach. List memberships and organizations.
Affinity Groups – Research what specific groups of people will read your book. If you have previous works, this is easier. You can even use Facebook or website tracking to pinpoint the age of followers. Being specific helps editors promote your idea to an acquisitions committee.
Books Under Contract (or) Previous Works– Before I had books published, I listed magazine articles and plays. In my last proposal, I only listed a series under contract because it gave a fresh representation of my readership. Include sales in units and earnings. You can get this from your agent or royalty statements.
Author Bio – Mine is about 1/2 page, with professional credentials and some personal information.
First Three Chapters – These significant chapters allow your person of interest to look deep into your writing soul. Shine and represent your style.
On each page, a header contains the book’s title and author’s name. Single space the proposal and use 1½ spacing for sample chapters and between headings. My numbered pages usually run about 35 pages total, including sample chapters. Also, write a short summary, about 1-3 paragraphs, to accompany the cover letter or your agent’s email to publishers.
To survive writers’ island, proposals can’t be rushed. Make the most of the opportunity to create eye-contact. My format contains years of personal tweaking, but you’ll want to embellish whatever format you use with your own creativity and style.
Unlike television’s Survivor cast, the Watercooler’s a safe place for interaction.
What’s your spin on book proposals?
And just for fun . . . what’s the temp at your place?