Archive | December, 2013

Book Proposal – Part One

31 Dec
A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

Right. We’re in a period of profound change in the publishing industry. Self-publishing and easy e-book creation have changed the landscape. Yet traditional publishing still exists, and so the book proposal remains a valuable device. It is both a business proposal to a publisher to consider your book AND a means for you to take a disciplined approach to planning your book before you ever start writing.

The image is the rudimentary cover for the advanced version of my original proposal. It proved to be a bit of a false start, but was a valuable learning experience nonetheless. The title of ONE was intended to reflect the concept that men and women have grown apart from one another in modern society. I thought I could write from the primary theme that we needed to collectively come together in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect. A positive perspective, but one which I ultimately couldn’t make work. The image was intended to reflect this image of gender narcissism traits that I use in the current book:

(c) 2013 The Author, All Rights Reserved. Non-profit re-blogging of entire post permitted.

(c) 2013 The Author, All Rights Reserved. Non-profit re-blogging of entire post permitted.

From what I could learn on the internet, book proposals generally range between 20 to 50 pages in length, and typically are around 25-30 pages. Now imagine that you are a traditional publisher. How much would you appreciate a writer who sent you 30 pages as opposed to one who sent you a 300 page manuscript? Your reading has been reduced by an order of magnitude, and, as we will see, you get far more useful information.

The format that I used (I suppose this can vary a bit, depending upon whose advice you read) was simple:

1. Overview (If you don’t hook them in the 1st 3 sentences, forget it.)
2. Sales Objective (If you aren’t going to make them money, why would they publish you?)
3. Marketing/Promotion/Platform (It takes far more work to sell a book than it does to write it. You have to show that you know this and are committed.)
4. About the Author (Who are you? What sort of person are you? Will readers find you interesting, even if you’re “ordinary”?)
5. List of Book’s Chapters (You have to have a plan, and it had better be a good one! Here you show your word budget for each chapter as well.)
6. Chapter-by-Chapter Summaries (A Readers’ Digest version of your planned or written book. Show that you have A PLAN and are a disciplined thinker and writer.)
7. Sample Chapter (If they like what they have see so far, now they get to see if they like your writing. Typically not the introduction or the first chapter.)

I intend to do a post for each part of the proposal using what I actually wrote for ONE, except the sample chapter.

You’ll note that I wrote this proposal in 2010. The filename shows that it was version 4.5. I actually didn’t start the first functional draft of my current book until August 2012. It took me two years-plus to wrap my head around exactly how to go about writing what eventually will become the two books of The Mirror. By the end of Book Two, I will have developed a sort of social theory of everything, which will be written so that anyone who can read Harry Potter can understand it.

Obviously, this is a rather tall order. I never could have come to where I am now had I not first started with this proposal. It was worth the time and effort, even though it was only ever seen by one senior publishing individual, and was rejected outright. From this to a soon-to-be published 1st book that my test readers are suggesting is something very special, indeed.

From the most humble of beginnings…

Book Proposal – Part Zero

30 Dec
Manuscript or proposal?

Manuscript or proposal?

As mentioned in my recent post on my book’s status, I now begin a series of posts on writing a book proposal. I thought it best to start with a “Part Zero” to establish the context for the series.

Like many here at wordpress, I was once an aspiring writer. While I had written a moderate amount professionally—emails, performance appraisals (a hidden art form!), letters, tactical notes, 10,000 word post-grad thesis, letters, briefing notes, professional journal articles, newspaper articles, etc.-, I had never tackled something as large as a book. I wanted to write a significant non-fiction work.

Before actually starting to write, I did a little internet research as to what writing a book was all about. Self publishing wasn’t on my radar screen at the time, and what I read suggested that professional writers didn’t submit manuscripts to major publishing companies. They instead submitted book proposals.

Put yourself in the place of a traditional publisher. You run a business. You want to publish books that make money, not lose money. You have salaries to pay, rent to pay, equipment to maintain, etc. And you are constantly getting manuscripts from aspiring writers. Which ones are even worth the time (and hence cost) to read and assess? Which are the ones that readers are going to want to buy?

The book proposal communicates to the publisher that you are a professional writer. That is, you understand that publishing is a business, as opposed to the art of writing. The proposal is in fact a business proposal to the publisher to publish your book. It demonstrates that you will (or have) approached your writing in a disciplined and professional manner, and that your book was well thought out in advance rather than you just having hung onto your keyboard by the seat of your pants during NaNoWriMo.

However, the Internet Reformation has radically altered the publishing industry, and the transformation is still in progress. As this recent Canadian newspaper article describes, self-publishing appears to be the new norm for new authors.

From the major publisher’s perspective, there is no longer a need to take a risk on an unknown author. These authors have proven themselves in rising above the herd of self-published authors, and they bring with them an established readership and a degree of personal brand recognition.

The risk to the traditional publisher is that it has become irrelevant to some successful writers. If one becomes highly successful as a self-published author, what value does a traditional publisher add to justify taking a cut of your profits? This is a great article on the topic.

So is the book proposal still relevant in the rapidly changing world of publishing? I think so. It disciplines your approach to writing, and it forces you as a writer to confront the realities of publishing as a business.

In the next instalment, I’ll go over the basic structure of the proposal I wrote. Please keep in mind that I am hardly an expert, as The Mirror is my first book, and it won’t be released until February 2014. And, as the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Alternate views, opinions, or experiences are most welcome.

She’s Alive! EDDD 23rd, Navigator edition

23 Dec

Linda is experiencing dizziness, blurred vision, fatigue, and a very sore neck. Considering how serious a concussion can be, all I can say is thank God for small blessings. Hopefully she’ll be back to blogging soon and in full health.

Linda G. Hill

Relatively good news, everyone. Linda survives. Minor concussion, with dizziness, fatigue, and blurry vision symptoms. Her biggest complaint is of a stiff neck. While not the best of Christmas presents, given how serious her icy fall could have been, I think we should all be grateful that it wasn’t worse.

So, until Linda’s symptoms abate sufficiently, I’ll try to keep her EDDD alive.

Right. The image. You may be witnessing the first ever Christmas ladder. Someone who is a working Mom and whose husband has been away on business got fed up with the commercialized nature of Christmas. So she said to heck with it, not going out to buy another tree, what do I have on hand?

Voila. Thus is born the Christmas ladder. A new tradition. If she had been a known artist, the Art Museum of Canada would have paid millions (of taxpayers’ money) to buy it…

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Ho Ho Ho! Navigator Santa’s coming to EDDD town

23 Dec

Hi everyone. With the recent major ice storm that has gone through south eastern Ontario Canada, poor blogger LindaGHill slipped on a treacherous front step and suffer a minor concussion. I’m hanging out at her blog lindaghill.wordpress.com to keep it going while she is out of commission. Hopefully she’ll be back soon. Why not come and show Linda some wordpress love at her place? Thanks,
Navigator

Linda G. Hill

While the very delightful LindaGHill, blogger extraordinaire, recovers from her ice storm battle scars—wounded in action, or WIA as we like to say—, it falls to me to (wo)man the ramparts of this blogosphere bastion. The chain of command remains intact.

Right. So when I was in grade 1, a wee lad all of six years old, I had the venerable old Mrs. Thompson for my teacher. Not only did she strap me for talking in class, she actually once gave me detention for Valentine’s Day.

This little boy didn’t like arts and crafts. Mrs. T had deemed that my Valentine heart didn’t meet her standard for my mother, so the Thompsonator kept me after class until I got it right.

Mean old bat. No wonder I have issues.

As the image above shows, there is a reason why I didn’t like arts and crafts. I flat out suck at…

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Winifred scores again!

20 Dec
Marriage Therapist Winifred Reilly

Marriage Therapist Winifred Reilly

WAY TO GO, WINIFRED!!!

Hey, everyone. Look at where Winifred is now.

Head to Trader Joe’s

17 Dec
Credit: Sjschen, wikipedia

Credit: Sjschen, wikipedia

It will, of course, sound like culinary barbarism. Foodie heresy. Bistro blasphemy, even. Yet to any red blooded Canadian, it’s like mana from heaven.

French fries, gravy, and cheese curds.

Or as it’s known here, poutine. Sound iffy? Awful, even? Then why is Trader Joe’s now selling it?

Add Montreal smoked meat and it’s so sinfully good, it’s worth risking a heart attack for. Now available at Trader Joe’s, without the smoked meat.

For now.

Way to go, Winifred!!

16 Dec
Marriage Therapist Winifred Reilly

Marriage Therapist Winifred Reilly

We have a great bunch of folks in our wordpress community. It’s always wonderful to see one of “us” do well, and one of us has.

In this case, it’s marriage therapist par excellence Winifred Reilly. To quote from her brilliant blog speakingofmarriage:

Winifred M. Reilly, M.A., MFT, is a psychotherapist specializing in marital therapy and relationship issues, with a private practice in Berkeley, CA.

I suppose I could just shorten that to say that Winifred is a psycho marriage therapist. (Hopefully this quip won’t cost her too many clients.) }:-)>

I love Winifred’s posts. She has a beautifully natural writing style—she writes so effortlessly, or so it seems. Her lessons are wise, simple, elegant, short, and often times hilarious.

Only the best marriage therapist in the universe could come up with this post: Mastering the Art of Shutting Up. (I’m laughing all over again.)

One thing I particularly love about Winifred is that she’s unbiased when it comes to relationships. What’s good for the gander is also good for the goose. She challenges everyone to think about their own behaviour in the relationship, but in a funny and non-threatening way.

And now, a testament to what a great marriage therapist she really is, Winifred has been quoted in a NY Times article!

Well done, Winifred. Well done, indeed.