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Book Proposal – Part Nine “Sample Chapter”

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

A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

Here we are at the final part of my book proposal, the sample chapter. Let’s review where this fits into the proposal:

– Overview

– Sales Objective

– Marketing / Promotion / Platform

– Competing or Reference Books

– About the Author

– List of Book’s Chapters

– Chapter-by-Chapter Summaries

Sample Chapter

In the Overview, I hopefully have hooked the publisher in the first few lines of my proposal, and I gave him or her the big picture snapshot of what my book was about. Based on a great comment from blogger suzjones to an earlier post in this series, I now know that I should have had a social media “platform” in place by this point, as the first thing the publisher will do is Google my name or perhaps the title of my manuscript/book. I had no social media presence in 2010, other than a rarely used Facebook page.

In the next three sections, I tried to show that I understood that publishing is a business, and what the business aspects of my book were that would make the publisher want to choose it. Then came a brief summary of who I was as a person and an author. People like people.

The final three parts of the proposal demonstrated that I had actually thought about writing the book, and had planned an appropriate structure against which to write. In the last of these, I included a sample chapter. I’ve read that this should not be the Introduction or the first chapter. Probably shouldn’t be the final chapter either, but this is a guess on my part. If the publisher gets this far in your proposal, you obviously done well. Now it’s time to give the ultimate proof, which is that you can actually write well, and that the book will be interesting.

As there have been significant changes in the publishing industry in the last few years, there may be less importance to this part than in previous times. Not that it isn’t important, however. But for a first time author these days, odds are that you’ve already written your first book, built a social media platform (i.e., following), and have already demonstrated that you can write. If the publisher Googled you and hit your blog, hopefully they see that you’ve already had good feedback on your work, parts of your work, or your writing in some regard.

I’m not going to include the sample chapter here, as it is too long for a blog post. Anyone interested in reading what this proposal ultimately evolved into, please feel free to email me at themirrorbooks@gmail.com. No cost, no strings.

For everyone who followed along with this series of posts on the book proposal, thanks for your interest, support, and kind comments. Who knows? From this humble, first time attempt at a book proposal, a successful book may ultimately arise. I’ll know better as this year progresses, as the book should be out next month. The first galley proofs are due to me early next week, which is an exciting milestone.

I never seen an actual galley proof before, let alone having been responsible for the creation of one.

I’ll conclude by making a master list (hyperlinked) of the posts in the series. Cheers, everyone.

* * * * *

Part Zero – The Book Proposal

Part One – The Book Proposal

Part Two – Overview

Part Three – Sales Objective

Part Four – Marketing / Promotion / Platform

Part Five – Competing or Reference Books

Part Six – About the Author

Part Seven – List of Book’s Chapters

Part Eight – Chapter-by-Chapter Summaries

Part Nine – Sample Chapter

Book One of my magnum opus

Book One of my magnum opus

Book Proposal – Part Eight “Chapter-by-Chapter Summaries”

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

A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

Here is where we are in the rough “industry standard” format that I adopted to write the proposal for ONE:

– Overview

– Sales Objective

– Marketing / Promotion / Platform

– Competing or Reference Books

– About the Author

– List of Book’s Chapters

Chapter-by-Chapter Summaries

– Sample Chapter

By this point, I’ve given the the big picture sales pitch (Overview), showed a prospective publisher that I understand that publishing is a business (Sales Objective, Marketing, Competing/Reference Books), told them a bit about me (About the Author), and what my book’s structure is (List of Book’s Chapters).

So what will be in those chapters I am planning to write?

As per my previous posts in this series, this proposal, my first, was never really considered by the one traditional publisher to whom it was given. The book it described turned out to be significantly different in some regards from the book it eventually evolved into. Yet had it not been for this proposal, I never would have made it to the point where I now find myself: within a couple of months of book release.

For those who have read the manuscript, it may be a bit interesting to see what my original thoughts were as to what I intended to write. Note that I included epitaphs, which are those quotes you sometimes see at the start of chapters. I use epitaphs in the current book, although not necessarily the same ones. I’ve found them apropos given the nature of the book.

With apology for this slightly long post, here is what I envisioned two years before things really started clicking and I began the first draft in earnest:

* * * * *

Chapter-by-Chapter Summaries

Author’s Forward

Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it.
Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held.
Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books.
Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin.
Believe nothing just because someone else believes it.
Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true.

– Buddha [paraphrased]

1. Was Someone Trying to Tell Me Something?

Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it. – Andre Gide

This introductory chapter lays the foundation for reader’s the journey of discovery. It introduces the tale of Narcissus in a unique manner, by juxtaposing it against the concept (Hamlet’s Mill) that ancient myth encodes factual knowledge of fundamental importance. Was someone trying to tell us something so important that they embedded it into the very fabric of human culture?

2. Glancing in the Rear View Mirror

Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream. – Kahlil Gibran

The foundation to the author’s journey of discovery: spiritual, introspective, a life destined to ponder the question why? An earnest retrospective on those aspects of the author’s life – e.g. beatings at the hands of bullies – which left him vulnerable to a narcissist.

3. Living a Myth Isn’t Living the Dream

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. – Carl Jung

The author’s life married to a narcissist. Having to walk on eggshells and teaching the kids to do the same, thus laying the foundation for events to follow, the insidious poisoning of relationships, the disturbing relationship between mother and daughter that he didn’t recognize until too late, the not-quite-right things about the wife’s sisters and mother, all which never made sense until the author could put a name to it: narcissism.

4. A Maelstrom Is a Poor Place for Swimming Lessons

Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true. – Demosthenes

How events began to spiral down, too slowly for the author to understand until it was too late. The true beginning of the narcissistic destruction of the author’s relationship with his daughter, the escalation of what might have been Munchausen By Proxy, and the two year progression of his wife’s addiction that destroyed the marriage. Dealing with a rabid campaign to destroy his relationships with their children, and a serious concern that Munchausen By Proxy was about to get deadly.

5. Thanks for Planning my Funeral – How Rude of Me Not to Die

If you wish to strengthen a lie, mix a little truth in with it. – Zohar

As things spiraled out of control, the author made the huge mistake of contacting the XXXX Children’s Aid Society, who not only refused to investigate his claims, but actually assisted his wife in alienating the children. When they couldn’t bully him from his home, they insidiously fabricated a non-existent child protection “concern” that contradicted their own mandatory regulations. They effortlessly succeeded in having a judge, without trial, order him out of his own home and issue a de facto no contact order against him, giving his wife unrestricted license to abuse the kids. What they didn’t realize was that what they were doing had a special name: abduction, as defined in the Criminal Code. They also badly underestimated the author’s love for his children and his resolve to protect them from abuse.

6. Sigmund Freud Sipping Coffee at a Paris Café

The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is “What does a woman want?” – Sigmund Freud

There is a second type of narcissism, which is only documented in academic literature as ‘covert” narcissism. What experts haven’t realized is that it is a feminine form of narcissism, and that the two narcissisms can be intuitively equated to the corruption of male and female socialization behaviours as per Men Are From Mars, Women From Venus. The chapter title is an allusion to the French emphasis on gender in thought and language, especially their employment of the gender-based definite articles le and la. This chapter will explain the sad affliction of narcissism in a way that men and women everywhere can relate to, and in a way that has never been done before.

7. When an English Monk Serves Duck for Geometry Class

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. – Galileo Galilei

There is a saying that if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, then it’s a duck. The author had the realization that what he encountered in terms of child protection workers, lawyers, judges and even senior elected officials contributing to the child abuse, either by commission or omission, shared the same attributes as the feminine form of narcissism. This implies the rather staggering possibility that people can collectively display “personality” dysfunctions, which poses the fundamental question of whether or not societies are a form of collective human organism. This chapter gently exposes the gender feminist portrayal of woman as a perpetual victim for what it truly is: the narcissistic corruption of truth in support of pathological emotional needs.

8. What Mrs. Crocodile Thinks Every Good Mother Should Know

The trouble with most people is that they think with their hopes or fears or wishes rather than with their minds. – Will Durant

Women, including many learned professionals, complain that they have and are being betrayed by feminism. This chapter builds a logical, intuitive and common sense foundation of how and why this happened, and how men and women can approach one another with respect for both the gender and the individual. It’s emphasis on the feminine gender will particularly resonate with female readers. It will be written with sensitivity and gentleness.

9. What’s Good for the Gander is Good for the Goose, so Long as Mine Doesn’t Get Cooked

The dogma of woman’s complete historical subjection to men must be rated as one of the most fantastic myths ever created by the human mind. – Mary Ritter Beard (1876-1958).

Based upon the previous two chapters – that contemporary gender feminism is in fact a narcissistic phenomenon (and not about equality) and how to recognize what is actually true from what gender feminism pathologically needs to be true -, this chapter identifies how gender feminism has harmed women, men, children, and society. It will expose with a simple eloquence of thought that is intuitive to even the more humble of readers.

10. ONE

Our lack of compassion stems from our inability to see deeply into the nature of things. – Lama Surya Das

What the author learned throughout his journey of discovery and how it has forever changed how he perceives himself and how he understands the world. It will be written as the final portion of his life’s spiritual journey of understanding and wisdom, and with the hope that both genders can learn to live in a state of harmony based upon mutual respect and appreciation, and in particular be freed of ideology and stereotype. In the death of Narcissus, something beautiful will bloom.

11. Epilogue

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you. — Unknown

A traveler’s things must be put away after every journey. This chapter, in so doing, will complete the journey of understanding for both author and reader.

* * * * *

Since ONE eventually evolved to become The Mirror, Book One and the future sequel Book Two, there are concepts here that are yet to be covered, and which await Book Two.

Book Proposal – Part Seven “List of Book’s Chapters”

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

A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

We now get to the part of the book proposal where we start to do some hard planning as to the book’s actual structure. This is where the basic blueprint starts to outline the framework against which we will write.

Bear in mind that I: a) had never written a book before; and b) had never written a proposal before.

My internet research suggested that publishers generally want a book no longer than 300 pages / 60,000 words from an unknown, first time author. Perhaps this only applies to fiction; I don’t know. Regardless, I imposed this artificial constraint upon myself for this part of my proposal. As it turned out, it was completely unrealistic for what I was trying to accomplish, but I didn’t have the experience with longer written works to appreciate this.

What I will is show what I originally wrote in this part of my proposal for the stillborn book concept of ONE, which included the word counts that added up to slightly less than the 60,000 word constraint. Afterwards, I’ll show what I actually came up with for the current book The Mirror, Book One – Welcome to the Evil Sisterhood. Note that I tried to make the chapter titles as interesting as possible, and that they betray a sense of humour:

* * * * *
[ONE]

List of Book’s Chapters

1. Was Someone Trying to Tell Me Something? (4,000 words)

2. Glancing in the Rear View Mirror (3,000 words)

3. Living a Myth Isn’t Living the Dream (5,000 words)

4. A Maelstrom Is a Poor Place for Swimming Lessons (10,000 words)

5. Thanks for Planning my Funeral – How Rude of Me Not to Die (10,000 words)

6. Sigmund Freud Sipping Coffee at a Paris Café (6,000 words)

7. When an English Monk Serves Duck for Geometry Class (6,000 words)

8. What Mrs. Crocodile Thinks Every Good Mother Should Know (6,000 words)

9. What’s Good for the Gander is Good for the Goose, so Long as Mine Doesn’t Get Cooked (6,000 words)

* * * * *

Book One of my magnum opus

Book One of my magnum opus

[The Mirror, Book One]

TABLE OF CONTENTS

BOOK ONE: Welcome to the Evil Sisterhood (94,000 words)

Introduction

PART I: Narcissus’ Sister
1. Genesis
2. Life
3. Decline & Fall
4. Mirror

PART II: Courts of InJustice
5. Maelstrom
6. Something Wicked This Way Comes
7. Something Wicked This Place Stays
8. Vive la Revolution!

Intermission – Act I

BOOK TWO: Harbinger of a Dark Age

(Tentative)

Intermission – Act II

9. Slavery

PART III: Matriarchy
10. (Swastika in the) Mirror
11. Prime Time
12. La Cage aux Folles
13. Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged
14. The 2nd Library of Alexandria
15. CAIO Feminazis

Post Script

* * * * *

As we say in the military, no plan survives first contact with the enemy. There has been a substantial evolution from the plan for ONE to the resultant The Mirror. Going the self-published route liberated me from the artificial 60,000 word constraint, and now one book will be two.

I started research for what would ultimately become The Mirror back in the summer of 2008, and under dire family circumstances. Roughly two years later, I wrote this proposal for the concept book ONE. Roughly another three and a half years, and I am on the verge of publishing The Mirror.

I suppose this rather makes me a Terminator when it comes to feminism. They messed with the wrong Dad’s kids.

Mine.

Always ride with two hands unless it's to use your shotgun

Always ride with two hands unless it’s to use your shotgun

Book Proposal – Part Six “About the Author”

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

A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

Of all the parts of a book proposal, this is the one that I am least comfortable with. I could never be a salesman, or at best a poor one. This is even true when it comes to selling myself.

Yet I had to write something, and in this I defaulted to my military frame of reference. Officers are expected to be highly dedicated, hard working, always showing initiative in solving problems, etc. The sorts who walk on water, a little bit.

Often when it comes time for a superior to write our annual performance reports, we’re asked to write a “brag sheet” to list our accomplishments for the past 12 months, to ensure that nothing significant is missed. As my father, who was also a RCAF navigator, is fond of saying, writing a brag sheet is not the time to be bashful.

I don’t know if taking this approach would read well to a publisher or if it would be construed as hubris. I’d love to hear peoples’ thoughts on the question. Regardless, for better or for worse, here is what I wrote about myself:

* * * * *

About the Author

The author is a 3rd generation Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Navigator with nearly 27 [now 30] years of service. He specialized in the secretive world of anti-submarine warfare, with operational, instructional, staff, and Test & Evaluation experience. An honours graduate of the prestigious year-long Aerospace Systems Course, he was hand-selected to be part of the team which created the RCAF’s applied think tank, of which he was then a founding member. He has written for professional military periodicals and doctrine publications. He is a Member of the Order of Military Merit.

The author has been noted through his career as an effective thinker and writer. His forte in writing is an innate appreciation of the impact of nuance: he intuitively comprehends the subtle differences in interpretation that result from even the most minor changes, and as such he can reach into a reader’s mind with words to re-align it as necessary to achieve the reader-book communion. He is somewhat of a perfectionist with his writing in this regard. At a more abstract level, the author informally articulates an emotional effect upon the reader that he wishes to achieve and then writes to achieve this effect.

The author is highly motivated to ensure that ONE is a commercial success, and he is confident of his ability to communicate it to the broadest of audiences in a uniquely engaging way. He is excited in having had a profoundly original idea in the sense of the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” and he is determined to ensure that ONE becomes a life-changing work for all readers, from housewife to philosopher, from gardener to king and queen, for generations to come.

Have to love a beautiful mind

Have to love a beautiful mind

The author loves jazz and other genres of music, he prefers turntables to CD players and tubes to solid state, and his watch has hands; he is an analogue man. Unbeknownst to his military peers, he also writes poetry for pleasure. He is the father of three alienated children, two of whom are seriously maimed in self by what is now fourth generation maternal narcissism.

* * * * *

I didn’t have the movie poster image in my original proposal.

How does this read? Do I distinguish myself “from the herd” of aspiring writers, or does it seem a bit too full of myself? Maybe I’ll try my first poll to answer the question.

Book Proposal – Part Five “Competing or Reference Books”

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

A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

In trying to write a proposal for a traditional publisher, I gave this section it’s fair consideration too. It is a reference for the publisher to see a) that you understand that publishing is a business; and b) what part of the market that you are targeting.

I used amazon.com and wikipedia.org as my primary research resources. As for the books, I had read the non-fiction bestsellers or books of interest that would serve as either competition or references. In terms of references, I took this to mean both the type of book, the market segment that I would be writing to, and the sales potential.

Remember: I was (and am!) hunting big game in terms of non-fiction best sellers. Here’s what I wrote:

* * * * *

Competing or Reference Books

The author suggests the following three examples as competing books. He believes the success of these books is an indicator of sales potential for ONE as much as it is an indicator of adversarial potential; i.e. readers who bought these books would be interested in ONE:

OUTLIERS: The Story of Success. (Malcolm Gladwell, Little, Brown & Company ). # 8 on Amazon.com non-fiction best sellers’ list (518 days) as of 23 February 2010.

THE TIPPING POINT (Malcolm Gladwell, Little, Brown & Company ) # 26 on Amazon.com non-fiction best sellers’ list (1,291 days) as of 23 February 2010.

SUPERFREAKONOMICS: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance. (Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, William Morrow). # 34 on Amazon.com non-fiction best sellers’ list (133 days) as of 23 February 2010. The previous FREAKONOMICS book sold over 4 million copies.

ONE will exploit the same reader base that these three books appealed to, and will rival them in terms of intriguing ideas presented in an easy-to-read, engaging style. ONE will also provide answers raised by the following type of books, but not in an academic or an ideological fashion:

WHO STOLE FEMINISM? How Women Have Betrayed Women (Christina Hoff-Sommers, Simon & Schuster) From Amazon.ca review by Rocco R.: “The American people are tired of disingenuous, narrow special interests, lies, and deceptions—which is precisely the reason why Christina Hoff-Sommer’s book is so enormously popular.”

SPREADING MISANDRY: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture (Paul Nathanson and Katherine K Young, McGill-Queen’s University Press). At Amazon.ca: “What makes Spreading Misandry a useful book is that it puts a small spoke in the works of the large and noisy machinery of moral indignation that feminism has succeeded in constructing in academe and the media over the last 20 years.” The Sunday Independent

* * * * *

Okay, nobody laugh. I am now about to leave for my first ever hot yoga class.

“Apology, Madam. I thought the instructor said ‘downward dirty dog.’ Won’t happen again, I assure you. Besides, my eyes were closed. Is it hot in here, or is it just me?”

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:

* * * * *

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

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.