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?

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