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.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Write To Sell: 5 Easy Headline Copywriting Tips Anyone Can Use

Write To Sell: 5 Easy Headline Copywriting Tips Anyone Can Use

If you’re running a small business, you need basic copywriting skills because you’re trying to get attention and persuade people all day long. In other words, you’re writing copy: email subject lines, tweets, Facebook updates, proposals, and blog titles…

Whatever you’re writing, your headline contains the most important words. The headline either grabs someone’s attention, or it doesn’t. Some copywriters spend more time on the headline than they do on the copy.

Here’s some good news. Once you discover easy ways to write headlines, all your writing becomes easier, because you’ve learned to put yourself in your audience’s shoes.

The advertising master, David Ogilvy, said of headlines:

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Ogilvy is amazing. Two more great Ogilvy quotes to keep in mind when you’re writing headlines:

“I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information.”

Headlines work well when they’re NEWS: think of your headline as the headline in a newspaper. The Mail Online does a wonderful job with headlines. If you find that Tip 5, “add emotion” is a challenge, read the Mail Online.

“If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.”

Your headlines must be clear, so read them aloud: Tip 5.

Let’s look at our headline tips…

1. Remember WIIFM: “what’s in it for me?”

WIIFM: “what’s in it for me?” is an old copywriting acronym. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Think about your ideal customer (or your email recipient, your blog’s readers, etc.) Everyone wants to know what’s in it for them.

WIIFM must be obvious in the headline. Avoid being too “creative,” because you risk confusing your audience.

If you’re stuck on WIIFM, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can help. You’ll see that sex is a primal need: sex truly does sell. Scan the hierarchy. You’ll figure out WIIFM very quickly.

2. Research, research, and then research some more.

When you need to write important copy, spend half your time on research. This relates to WIIFM. Not only does your headline need to make totally clear what’s in for them, ideally it also speaks to them on a level that’s relevant, right now.

3. Write LOTS of headlines.

I like to sit down (or lie on the floor) and come up with ten headlines.

When you focus deeply, your subconscious mind will get in on the act. You’ll find that an hour later, or early next morning, completely new ideas will come to mind.

The more headlines you write, the more likely it is you’ll hit on something good.

4. Add emotion.

How do you add emotion? You make your audience FEEL something.

Test your headlines on the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer, when you think you’ve done it.

For inspiration, take a look at these classic headlines.

5. Read it aloud. (To someone else, if possible.)

Yes, read your headline aloud, firstly just so you can hear it. You’ll be surprised that this makes a difference. Some headlines seem OK, until you read them aloud.

Then read your headline aloud to someone else. Just ask whether the the headline makes sense to them. Would the ad catch their attention?

So, there you have it. Keep these headline copywriting tips in mind, not only for your next ad, but for everything you write which needs to grab attention.


, and on Twitter: @angee

Copywriting: Speak the Language, Then Sell

Advertising Writing

You’re a new copywriter. You’ve been hired, and you’re eager to get started.

You open a new document in your word processor, and stare at the computer screen, hoping for inspiration…

After a few moments, the cursor’s still blinking, and you’re wondering where you’ll go for lunch. Maybe the new cafe on the corner…

You pull yourself away from thoughts of sandwich fillings.

“Headline,”, you think. “I need a headline.”

You click your way through the folder listings on your computer, looking for your trusty swipe file. You’ll find some inspiration for your headline there, you’re sure of it.

STOP. Please.

You’re going the wrong way.

You may well find inspiration for a headline in your swipe file, but you don’t need that yet. You need to understand your product, and its audience, first. Then you need to get on your audience’s wavelength, and ensure that you’re speaking their language.

I became a writer because I love reading; a copywriter because I enjoy exploring human behavior and language.

Copywriters sell, using words. Even if you’re writing a script, it all comes down to words. To craft words which sell to an audience, you need to understand your audience: their hopes, challenges, and frustrations.

Research first, write later

Depending on the product, researching can be fun, or challenging. Start by asking your client to send you some representative marketing materials, as well as customer comments and questions. If you’re very lucky, and the product is popular, you can do some research on the Web.

Occasionally, research can be very challenging. For example, perhaps the product is completely new. No marketing materials, no customers, nothing at all.

If that’s the case, you’ll need to be creative. The product has competitors, and fits into a market niche. (If it doesn’t, the product has real problems, marketing collateral being the least of them.)

I’ve had a few copywriting jobs which needed lots of creative thinking. One job required me to write a brochure for a new pet food company; I couldn’t interview anyone from the company, and this was before the Web, so I had to be very creative indeed. I held my breath off and on for three days until the client signed off on the copy.

Depending on the job, you may spend a week or two researching, before you think about writing. Usually, you’ll come up with some wonderful ideas for copy while you’re researching. You’ll get what I call “the click” — everything will fall into place, and you’re inspired.

Sometimes inspiration won’t come, and you’ll find yourself where you started out, staring at your blank document, and the blinking cursor. You’re now primed with research however, and it won’t be more than a minute or two before your fingers start flying across the keyboard.

I love copywriting; it’s a wonderful career. Your success rests on your research, and speaking the language of your audience.

Image credit

Research Keywords Creatively: Suggestion Search


Do you like Google’s suggestions which appear as you type in a search query? If you do, you’ll like Soovie. This search suggestion tool provides suggestions from a variety of sources, and it’s customizable.

You’ll get results as you type. It’s useful for marketers, and for Web content creators. I use it often, because it gives me an instant overview of possibilities for content.

Soovie’s interface is clever. You can see the sites from which it’s drawing its results, and you can go directly to a specific source when you click on a keyword search term. For example, if you click on keywords appearing over the Youtube logo, you’ll be taken to a YouTube search on that keyword.

The program’s customizable, and has 15 search engines which you can use. Just press your right arrow key, and the search sources will change.

Want to save a search? You can. Drag your preferred suggestions to the book icon on the top left of the screen; you can even get these keywords emailed to you — a great feature if you’re away from your work computer.