Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Five Secrets of Winning Book Proposals

Working in the publishing industry comes with a high expectation, especially from complete strangers. After the causal hello progresses to what do you do, and my answer is I am a publisher, the words, like fairy dust, work magic; and in the eyes of my conversation partner, I m transformed into a glamorous Advice Goddess would I mind reading this stranger s book proposal?

Cornered in frozen foods at the grocery, black-tie events or at the bus stop, I ve been pitched as we say in the business, with such book proposals as: A Cat s Tale of Christmas; Old Testament Aphrodisiacs; Break Out (after being committed to a mental institution by jealous relatives, the story of one man s quest for revenge); and Suck it and See: A Guide to Tropical Fruits.

Admittedly, I chose to share with you the more colorful examples. My point being that the purpose of a proposal pitch is not to motivate the publisher to love the idea as much as you do. That s the misconception. The publisher is listening for signals that you understand the process of transforming a book concept into a business plan. It s not just about your passion for the topic: it s how well you filter your passion through the publisher s prism of marketing and distribution. That s the difference between a contract and a polite rejection letter.

Let s take a look at five typical questions that an agent or a publisher will ask in their submission guidelines.

Question #1: Please provide the title that best captures and conveys the essence of your book and briefly explain why you chose it.

What the publisher is really thinking:

  • Will the book buyer for Barnes & Noble recognize the section to shelve the book by its title alone?
  • Is the title s message succinct and snappy so the publisher s sales representative will remember it easily?
  • How does the rest of proposal support what the title says?

Question #2: Briefly describe the primary audience for your book and how they will benefit from reading it.

What the publisher is really thinking:

  • The book cannot be all things to all people. Do you demonstrate focus?
  • Are you confident about who the customer is and the primary (most appropriate) category where the book should be placed in the bookstore?
  • Do you provide three distinct benefits that relate to the book s core premise?

Question #3: List competing books that you are aware of on this topic and explain how your book differs.

What the publisher is really thinking:

  • How do you demonstrate that your premise is solid in relation to existing books?
  • Will the publisher s sales representatives understand where your book fits among five other books in the same category?
  • Do you contradict what the book is or is not elsewhere in the proposal?

Question #4: What are your expectations for the project?

What the publisher is really thinking:

  • Do you sound like you expect to make a million dollars and plan to retire on your royalty earnings?
  • Is your goal to raise the level of topic discussion and to advance your profile as a thought leader?
  • How realistic are you about the work involved to write the book from start to finish?

Question #5: Describe your qualifications for writing this book and include your latest curriculum vitae or other relevant factors.

What the publisher is really thinking:

  • Several proposals are discussed during a publisher s editorial board meeting. Why say yes to yours?
  • What is your media platform? How are you going to be an asset in marketing and promoting the book?
  • What s your track record?

If you are now thinking about you book concept as a business plan, bravo! This is the foundation for a solid beginning; and, I encourage you to continue forward. High-quality books written by people who are committed to excellence (in any sphere of living) are in short supply. Adopt the publisher s perspective how will it sell and to whom and you will not only become a published author. You will make a difference in the world.

About The Author

Melissa A. Rosati is a co-active coach, whose clients are writers, authors and creative artists. Prior to her coaching career, she was the Director, Editorial & Production for McGraw-Hill International (UK). She now resides in New York City. Her forthcoming book, The Essential Publisher s Handbook shows readers how to publish profitably. Register for a complimentary subscription to her newsletter, The Essential Publisher at http://www.melissarosati.com.

© 2005 Melissa A. Rosati. All rights reserved.


From Book Notes to Book Reports

Writing papers and book reports has long been the bane of high school and college students existence. It seems that no matter how hard you work to stay caught up, there is always a paper due tomorrow. Using book notes to help get the ideas flowing can save you time, heartache, and the stress of getting a bad grade.

There are many styles and formats available now, but a book note typically includes a summary of a literary work, commentary on the subject matter and deeper meaning of the passages, and biographical information about the author. The best book notes are written by qualified people (i.e. a college degree in literature, or in the academic area the book note is covering). Most importantly, the book note you choose should be easy for you to use after all, if the information is just as difficult to find in the book note as it is in the book, what s the point?

When to use Book Notes

Book notes can help you out with more than just book reports. They provide valuable information you can use to write a paper about an author, philosopher, society, or culture. Let s say you had to write a paper about nineteenth century Russian culture. You gather together a lot of information about what was going on politically, what kind of figures were popular, what the economy was like, etc. Imagine the authenticity you could add to your essay by including even a small part about Leo Tolstoy, a prominent Russian author from the nineteenth century.

Providing information connected to a specific person makes the essay much more enjoyable to read, and showcases your ability to provide breadth and depth of research. Naturally, it is not necessary for you to read all of Tolstoy s works to know enough about him to include a piece in your essay. Book notes on one of his masterpieces will usually contain enough information for you to apply what you learn to your more general topic.

How to use a Book Note

The most important thing to remember about using book notes is they are not intended to be substitutes for reading the real book. You will miss out on the opportunity to read some of the greatest works of literature if you only read their book notes. Try reading the book note chapter by chapter after you read that chapter in the book. This helps confirm the ideas you come up with on your own, and will point out new ideas while the reading is still fresh in your mind.

Alternatively, you could also try reading the summary of each chapter before reading the chapter in the book. This will help direct your reading to find the things that are most important in each chapter, and will help you find new ideas that either agree or disagree with the ideas discussed in the book note.

When you sit down to write your paper, having already gone over the reading and the summary, you will have an arsenal of ideas on which you can rely to start writing the paper. Very rarely will you receive an essay assignment that is answered perfectly by the information in the book note, so you ll have to pour some of your own thoughts into your paper.

Where to find Book Notes

The best things in life are not always free, but there are a lot of free resources available now online. The three best places I have found for book notes are SparkNotes.com, CliffNotes.com, and PinkMonkey.com. They each have their own advantages and disadvantages, so try each one out until you find the one that works best with your style.

About The Author

Nick Smith is a client account specialist with http://www.10xMarketing.com More Visitors. More Buyers. More Revenue. For software that lets you organize and annotate your book notes, check out http://www.gobinder.com/book-notes.aspx