Monday, December 7, 2009

Side Trip: How to Write a Non-Fiction Book Proposal – Part 19

Format your book proposal

Can you believe it? You’re almost done!

Now is the time to put all the pieces of your book proposal together.
  • Arrange each part of your proposal in a logical order that flows. (I find each proposal I’ve written works in a different order. The order of the items doesn’t matter that much. Just make sure all the needed information is there.)
  • Insert Headings for each part. Neatness counts. This is a professional proposal, so make it look nice. (But don’t go overboard! No fancy fonts, colored text, or cute pictures. Keep it professional.)
  • Insert page numbers.
  • Insert a Header or Footer with your last name and the title or partial title of your book.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Side Trip: How to Write a Non-Fiction Book Proposal – Part 18

Chapter Summaries

This section is also sometimes called “Chapter by chapter outline.”

Write a few sentences or a short paragraph on each one of your chapters. Give the editor or agent a good, solid idea of what you will cover and include in each chapter.

Of course this also means you are giving chapter titles, will know how many chapters will be in your book, and what will be in each one of them.

By the time you’re able to write your sample chapters and chapter summaries, you’ll need to have a really good handle on your book. You’ve already done a good portion of your research. You’ve organized your material. You’ve mapped out how you’re going to move through your information. You not only know where you’ll start your book and end it, you also know where you’ll start and end each chapter.

In other words, by the time you get here you’re probably more than half-way through writing your book! Isn’t that cool?

Still, you have wiggle room. While you’re asked to map out your whole book, the map you create isn’t set in stone. You are creating a book proposal. You’re giving them a solid idea of what you plan to do, however if you get a better idea or if they want to adjust something, you can still do that. So don’t get too antsy about making decisions and planning your book. Editors and agents understand that this is just a proposal and (probably minor) things can change when you write it.

FICTION WRITERS: You don’t need to divide your story into chapters at this point. Instead of a chapter by chapter summary, just write a synopsis of your story straight through with no chapter breaks. (And yes, you are supposed to tell the ending. I know. It’s a spoiler. But your prospective agent and/or editor needs to know you can finish the story.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Side Trip: How to Write a Non-Fiction Book Proposal – Part 17

Sample Chapters

This step and the next one are probably going to take you the most time. But when done, you’ll be in great shape to produce this book. Here you are going to write some chapters for your book. You may have already done this, or you may do this first and then write the rest of your proposal. The order in which you do these things doesn’t matter. You just need them all to put together a complete package for your proposal.

Check the writer’s guidelines for each publisher and agent you are submitting to and send each one just what they want.

Some publishers want three sample chapters, others want two, some only want one.

I recommend you go ahead and write the first three chapters. Then you’re in good shape to provide whatever they want.

FICTION WRITERS: Send the number of chapters the writer’s guidelines state, but don’t send the whole manuscript until they request it.