Monday, September 10, 2012

Writing a Proposal

In college, I wrote several research papers. None of them excited me or scared me more than penning a proposal. When an author writes a fiction book and plans to send the manuscript to an agent or publisher, a proposal needs to be put together that best represents the work. My first question on this mission was "Where do I begin?" I'd just finished typing a 54,000 word manuscript. Wasn't that enough? Apparently not.

I did what every good writer would do. I searched for information that would guide me through the process, and I prayed. God had called me to this and I knew that he had no intention of sending me out into the wilderness to wander alone.

Since I chose to go the agent route first, I matched up agent sites that marketed the genre I’d written. Then I dug in and found what they expected in a proposal. Along the way, I paid attention to who they represented currently and in the past. I’d read several of the authors of the agent I chose to target.

I printed their information, and then I wrote a list of the elements that they wanted from me. As I worked on each one, I checked it off my list.  In the end, I completed fifteen different points of sale.
Here they are:
1.      Cover Letter
2.      Synopsis
3.      Sample Chapters
4.      Chapters Summary
5.      Author Bio
6.      Back Cover Copy
7.      Promotion Sentence
8.      Sales Handle
9.      Purpose of Writing the Novel
10.  Protagonist’s Quest
11.  What’s at Stake?
12.  Take Away Value
13.  Comparison to Published Books
14.  Target Market
15.  Potential Marketing Channels/Platform
By the time I finished, I knew my story well. With each description and every point made, I felt more confident about my story and the impact and value that might be taken away by the reader. If it were possible to write the proposal before writing the manuscript, I’d have a better handle on the story. Instead, the proposal reminds me of the ribbon that completes the package. It ties everything together and reminds me of the gift that God has given me.

What do you enjoy or not enjoy about writing a proposal?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Keep Typing

I read an encouraging post today by Tamela Hancock Murray ( In it she explains why writing a good book proposal is important to the agent and the author. This week I've been working on the proposal for Peace, Love and Mashed Potatoes. Putting together all the required parts seems overwhelming. But, I think I finally got a handle on it. Having a table of contents to guide my path helps.

Hopefully with one more look through, the proposal will go out sometime in the next week. Then I wait. If (and that is a big if) the agent is interested they'll contact me and let me know that they'd like to read my book. If they're not interested, then back to square one I go. But, this time I will have an arsenal of information so that proposal number two might not be so daunting.

If you are a writer and you are working on the proposal. Hang in there. Pray and keep typing.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My First Novel

What’s it like to write your first novel?

I’m asking myself this question. Over two years ago, with a nudge from God, I put pen to paper and interviewed the characters who danced in my mind. I found out where they lived, why they lived there, the books they like to read, and what they looked like. As I dug deeper, they told me their story. Just like real people, they each have a story to tell. My fictional characters shared heartache and joy. They told me secrets and made me guess at a few. One personality learned to forgive, another finds her family. A man loves and a mother shares.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve learned great lessons from them and from writing a novel. In carving out the story, I’ve learned to let go of the phrases I thought were so perfect. The journey’s taught me to listen to others who provide feedback and not take personally the critiquing the words need. I’m working on the proposal that I plan to send to an agent. That takes as much care as the novel itself.

Until next time—

What part of novel writing do you enjoy the most? If you are not a writer, what part do you enjoy reading the most?