Writing a book proposal is not for the faint of heart. Since I did this without an agent or insider knowledge as to what it’s all about, I felt a lot like this:
I knew about writing, but trying to converge my passion into a document that would convice someone my idea was marketable? I was a baby. I knew nothing. At least not enough. I spent a lot of time reading, hoping I would know the difference between valuable information and junk. Here are some resources that were most helpful to me and will hopefully propel you from baby knowledge to at least pre-teen.
A First Time Author’s Perspective: Author, Jody Hedlund writes about her journey from loving the art of writing to receiving representation from an agent and signing a three book contract. Jody shares lots of interesting details about the publishing process from the perspective of a fiction writer.
A Writing Mentor and Veteran Author Perspective: Mary DeMuth is passionate about mentoring writers and regulary allows readers to pitch their ideas to her (or another member of her Writing Spa mentor team) on her blog, So You Wanna Be Published.
An Agent’s Perspective: Rachelle Gardner’s blog, Rants and Ramblings: On Life as a Literary Agent, is packed full of information about the publishing process; from how to write a query letter to what agents and editors are looking for in an author. I spent lots of hours combing through her archives and checking out the recommended links in her sidebar. I also follow her on twitter @RachelleGardner.
A Publisher Prospective: Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, writes a fantastic blog filled with tons of useful information. I’m so vague. Just read him, if you don’t already. And follow him on twitter, too @MichaelHyatt.
An Editor’s Perspective: I was blessed to have the beautiful and gifted Bonita Lillie of Encouraging Words for Writers read my proposal before I pitched it. Bonita is also a writer and a teacher, so her experience, knowledge of the publishing world and appreciation of the writing craft offered vision and continuity to my work, ultimately inspiring enough courage in me to pitch with confidence.
If you’re planning to write a non-fiction book, buy Mary DeMuth’s ebook: Non-fiction Book Proposals that Grab an Editor or Agent by the Throat (in a good way!) I bought it for $10 last summer and it lifted the veil of mystery off the book proposal writing process for me. It was so helpful that when I met Mary at She Speaks, the first thing I told her was she needed to charge more for her ebook. Not saying she took my advice necessarily, but the cost is now $25 and worth. every. penny.
Michael Hyatt has also written two e-books entitled Writing a Winning Book Proposal, one for fiction and one for non-fiction. I haven’t read these, but almost every site I’ve been on recommends them.
I did read a few hold-in-your-hand books too, like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen. I’m still slowly working through Anne Lamott, as her book is about the craft of writing and I like to breathe in those types slowly. But I read Michael Larsen’s book methodically, from start to finish. I didn’t do everything he suggested, but I really appreciated his practical voice.
Since I have no agent, I brought my book proposal to a writing conference (She Speaks) and met with a publisher rep there. A lot of publishers won’t take unsolicited manuscripts or proposals from authors without agents. You can, however, submit through websites like Writers Edge or Christian Manuscript Submissions.
Check out Sally Stuart’s book, Christian Writer’s Market Guide to learn everything you would ever need to know about the Christian market, from greeting cards to traditional publishing, including how they accept submissions.
I know any one of these resources will be helpful to any of you who may be thinking about writing a book but don’t know where to begin. Do you have any other favorite resources I haven’t mentioned here? Feel free to share in the comments.