Book Proposal – Part Two “Overview”

2 Jan
A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

The overview is, apparently, where you either grab the publisher’s attention or lose it, all in the space of the first few sentences. When I wrote this proposal, I was a bit of a newbie. Not only had I never written a proposal before, I had never written a book before, nor had I published commercially. I had some relevant internet articles to help guide me, but no direct experience with commercial publishing.

I was trying for a very positive, fascinating, and even spiritual approach to the book. As discussed in my last post, this perspective was reflected in the title One. It was also an approach that I couldn’t make work, and I ultimately moved on to a more intellectually honest, less idealistic, and less naive approach.

Thus, the proposal I wrote should reflect this inexperience, naiveté, and idealism to some extent. Still, one has to start somewhere, and there is no better way to learn than by doing. Here’s the overview:

* * * * *


What if a single book successfully combined attributes from three bestsellers? MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS resonated with readers as it revealed inherent truths about the genders; THE TIPPING POINT fascinated readers with a truly original insight into ourselves; and THE CELESTINE PROPHESY seduced readers with the promise of a spiritual awakening. What if a single book resonated with, fascinated, and seduced its readers?

ONE is the true story of the author’s spiritual journey of discovery and understanding. When the author’s wife abuses their three children, the combined efforts of child protection workers, lawyers, judges, and senior elected officials to assist her provides a shocking catalyst for him to understand why. Against all odds, he does.

ONE will be written in three parts:

– Part One will chronicle the author’s life of living in a narcissistic relationship.
– Part Two will describe how the author’s complaint to a child protection agency against his wife resulted in an obsessed and criminal systemic response to excommunicate him from his children’s lives.
– Part Three will detail what the author discovered in terms of why individuals and entities that are entrusted to protect children became party to something terrible, and how this journey of discovery led him through his angst to a peace based on understanding and acceptance.

The book will be approximately 60,000 words. The manuscript will be completed twelve months after receipt of the advance. It will be written under the pseudonym of Matthew M. McConaughey.

* * * * *

I should point out that the 60,000 word figure was arbitrary. I’d read on the internet that publishers prefer shorter books from first time authors, and tend to set a limit of 60,000 as a preferred cutoff.

As I was to discover, One transformed into The Mirror, which has Book One and the planned Book Two. The manuscript below for Book One weighs in at 94,000 words. Perhaps I should have written under the pseudonym of Bob Loblaw (blah blah blah).

You’ll note that I emphasized the business aspect of this. I was trying to emulate the success of three major best sellers. Talk about big game hunting! It wasn’t the $$$ that I was interested in so much as the number of sales. I wanted to have a significant and positive social impact, and I still do. Also note how I kept it concise. It is, after all, an overview, and an overview is a place where less is more. (Or so I think.)

In retrospect, I am glad that this proposal was summarily dismissed on the one occasion that it was looked at (or perhaps wasn’t looked at). It led to me ultimately writing my own book instead of trying to emulate the works of others. I don’t believe that there’s ever been anything quite like The Mirror before. As to whether or not my having selected three big game targets in terms of sales was prophetic or not, time will tell.

From proposal to manuscript

From proposal to manuscript

25 Responses to “Book Proposal – Part Two “Overview””

  1. Carol Balawyder January 2, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    I am not very good at writing book proposals. Although my work is fiction I tend to write queries which I find to be harder than writing the novel itself. So, I can’t really comment on the format of your proposal but I would read such a book. One comment I can make is to write it in the present tense rather than the future. Try it and see how it reads.

    • navigator1965 January 2, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

      Hi Carol,

      Interesting suggestion. I wrote this before I had written the manuscript, so I suppose I defaulted to future tense. I’ll have to think about that one a bit. Since I decided to go self-publishing, the proposal served its purpose as an initial starting point and framework against which to begin writing.

      I imagine that writing fiction has its own unique set of challenges. Hopefully we’ll get the chance to read each other’s work in the not-too-distant future.

  2. Aussa Lorens January 2, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

    Interesting… especially since its sitting in my inbox…

    • navigator1965 January 2, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

      It’s a little less Celestine Prophesy and a little more Dashiel Hammet/Maltese Falcon. Mars—Venus? Oh, yes. Malcolm Gladwell? Oh, yes. And then some.

    • navigator1965 January 2, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

      *nav impersonates Aussa’s inbox, which is surprising as he is sober*

      Aussa. Aaaaussaaa. Aaaaaaaussaaaaaaaaa. Read me. Reeeeeeeaaaddddd mmmmeeeeeeeeeeeee.

      • Aussa Lorens January 3, 2014 at 12:47 am #

        Oh my gosh, you nut! It’s on the list! The list is just long :-/ Too many things!!!

        • navigator1965 January 3, 2014 at 9:45 am #

          No worries, Aussa. My “to-read” list is overflowing too. I just couldn’t resist. Plus the blogging—wow, does that ever chew up the time. Add spouses/gf/bf, full time work, etc., and it’s tough to find the time.

    • idiotwriter January 3, 2014 at 5:50 am #

      ..a very engrossing read Aussa 😉 I thought I would read it in stages…ended up with sleep deprivation!

      • navigator1965 January 3, 2014 at 10:32 am #

        You, Belinda, are just too sweet. ❤

        In fact, all of you WordPress ladies are too sweet. ❤ ❤

        • idiotwriter January 3, 2014 at 11:30 am #

          >>>*o*<<< — we are JUST ALL little angels sweety 😉 (and some of us occasionally fly on broomsticks whilst our wings are in the repair shope! 😀 )

  3. KG January 3, 2014 at 12:21 am #

    Sometimes the journey of a book also makes for a very interesting read 🙂

    • navigator1965 January 3, 2014 at 11:56 am #

      Thanks, KG. It is a story still in progress. (My earlier reply seems to have vanished!)

      • KG January 3, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

        Sure Nav. Am eagerly waiting for its finish. 🙂

        • navigator1965 January 3, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

          I suspect that a whole lot of people would share your sentiment were they to know about the book. Thanks for the continued support, KG. Always appreciated.

  4. idiotwriter January 3, 2014 at 5:48 am #

    Thanks for sharing this Nav – I have to believe that the ‘pre’ write for a book must be the hardest thing. Selling the idea not only to others but to yourself and finding the ‘style’ that fits your writing AND the topic. CAN’T wait…

    • navigator1965 January 3, 2014 at 9:50 am #

      It’s my pleasure, Belinda. The ‘pre’ is a major factor for successful writing, and is worth the effort, in my experience.

      • idiotwriter January 3, 2014 at 9:54 am #

        I reckon 😉 I truly wish and hope and pray and hold thumbs and toes and nose and mark my chest – that it all pays off ~

        • navigator1965 January 3, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

          I hope so too, Belinda. Perhaps there was a reason for it all.

          Does “mark my chest” = “cross my heart”?

        • idiotwriter January 3, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

          YES! That is the one I was thinking of!!

  5. Lee-Anne January 3, 2014 at 6:06 am #

    You’re turning the whole process – tortured soul to salesman – on its head, bravo! If it works, let me know (I’m awaiting a publisher’s cynical judgment as we speak…)

    • navigator1965 January 3, 2014 at 10:30 am #

      Thanks for your kind words, Lee-Anne. Good luck with the publisher!

      My proposal didn’t work with the one traditional publisher who was given it by a friend, but as I was a man on a mission, I didn’t bother much with traditional publishers after this and instead went pretty much straight to self-publishing. The book has to get out, as it has a very important thesis to communicate via an easy-to-read and true narrative. So, out it will come.

      With any luck, that one traditional publisher will one day look back and rue the day he didn’t see what my proposal actually represented. }:-)>

  6. suzjones January 19, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

    I found writing the proposal really made me sit back and think about exactly what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. Whilst I had my fingers crossed for acceptance I have found that the rejection has allowed me to rethink things and possibly go in a different direction that would not have been possible had my original proposal been accepted. This year is am going to rework things a little and move in a different direction.

    • navigator1965 January 19, 2014 at 10:39 pm #

      That’s the spirit, Sue. Sometimes what appears to be adversity can be a blessing in disguise.


  1. Book Proposal – Part Three “Sales Objective” | The Mirror - January 3, 2014

    […] that was my best guess as to what might interest a publisher. As I put it in my last post in this series, I went “big game hunting” in terms of suggesting that my book would […]

  2. Book Proposal – Part Nine “Sample Chapter” | The Mirror - January 19, 2014

    […] Part Two – Overview […]

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