Writing Journal 49: Your Book Proposal

Writing Journal 49: Your Book Proposal

My writing journal for Tuesday, September 30, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Busy, busy… Just when you think things are under control, they get busier. :-) I’ve just taken on a new ghostwriting client, who wants a business book. Two books, in fact. A short Kindle version, plus an advanced book on the same topic. The “advanced” book will be published on KDP and on Createspace.

Unfortunately, I can’t discuss the topic, but it’s fascinating. That’s the big benefit of ghostwriting; you cover many different topics, industries and areas.

I started the day writing notes for the mystery novel I’m ghostwriting for a client; I still haven’t settled on a sleuth. Not to worry. I’ve got great faith in the boys in the basement.

Then, preliminary notes on the business books. I need to schedule some research time for that. Julia can work out where and when.

Breakfast, for Honey. And for me, while reading email, and responding to the “two minute” messages. I’ll need to deal with the longer messages tonight.

24 hours: enroll for Team Up

While I think of it, we’ve got 24 hours remaining for Team Up enrollments — this is the final program for the year.

Onward with the book proposal for the client; it’s coming along well. I’ve got to do the competitive analysis, which is always fun. Of course, this is the most important part of the proposal. I’ve done a little research on it, but I need to do more. And I need to speak to a couple of friends to get their take on the environment for this kind of book.

I haven’t been walking every day, which is BAD. I can always tell too, because my RSI starts to get annoying. It’s a warm morning. Apparently the temperature’s headed for 33 today, which is 91 in Fahrenheit. Not hot by Sydney standards, but you can tell that summer’s on its way.

Lunchtime. In front of the computer again, watching YouTube videos. I rarely get time to watch, so it’s a little break in a busy day.

“Will you do my book proposal?” Please do your research first

I get enquiries about writing book proposals every week. I can’t do many of them, because I don’t have the time. I do them for people I know, either because they’re clients, or because they have a presence, somewhere. Perhaps online, or perhaps they’re a celebrity, or a coach, or a speaker.

Every book needs a hook. That’s the first thing a ghostwriter considers, and so should you. Publishers expect a book to have a hook of some kind, and an audience. If you don’t have this, finding someone to publish your book is an uphill slog. I’m not going to take your money if I think that your book will have no chance at all.

Let’s look at some book proposal tips.

You don’t need to write your book first if you’re proposing nonfiction. In fact, you should NOT. Editors like to have input on the direction you’re taking with the book.

With a fiction proposal, write your novel first. Then you create a query letter, which you send to agents – this letter gives a very brief overview of your novel.

When an agent agrees to take a look, you send along your fiction proposal, which is similar to a nonfiction proposal, in that you need to do your research into the competition for your book.

And, as with nonfiction, it REALLY helps if you have some kind of platform: a built-in audience.

Big tip: be smart. The first thing I do when someone hires me to write a book, or a proposal, is create some sales copy for the book. I’ve talked about this before, many times. Your sales copy acts as a mini-outline for the book, whether it’s fiction, or nonfiction.

(This is where having a writing coach comes in useful– you learn effective shortcuts which not only save you time, but also ensure that you’ll actually complete the book.)

Vital: research the competition for your book BEFORE you start writing

Fiction or nonfiction, your book will be one among millions. Therefore, do a little research. If you’re writing nonfiction, check out your topic. Amazon makes it easy to see how many copies (roughly) books are selling.

You don’t need to be put off by lots of competition; it’s a good thing, because you know that books in that area are selling.

Competitive research is important with fiction, too. You need to know where Amazon will “shelve” your novel. Check out how your genre’s selling. Fiction authors usually just want to write what they want to write, however, if you want to sell, pay attention, especially if you want to be traditionally published, and see your book in bookstores.

A busy afternoon. Firstly I work on the new fiction writing program we’re developing. It’s a workshop; which should be online soon. I’d hoped to have it online by the end of September, but obviously that hasn’t happened.

Next, more work on the company history. A chat with the client, and then onward with the writing.

Mid-afternoon, there’s a mini-crisis with a client who needs PR material in a hurry, so I work on some product descriptions, and create some content for his email newsletter.

That throws out the schedule, so I need to redo the schedule for the rest of the week.

Finally, it’s time for the daily review. With my word counts totaled, that’s it for another day.

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