Thursday, August 21, 2008

Book Proposal vs. Manuscript

Before sending out that manuscript, stop and read!
What is a book proposal? It is where you gather all of the critical information you can on your novel and offer it on a silver platter to a publisher. It helps immensely in making your rejected manuscript become-- "What the publisher WANTS."

By submitting a book proposal you are cementing your chances of being accepted. Publishers aren’t looking for long manuscripts to arrive on their doorstep, what they want is to pay you to write the book. Sending a completed manuscript will more than likely get overlooked if you send it without a proposal first.

Imagine being a busy publisher, and in your already cluttered mailbox you find an eight-inch thick box of yet another manuscript. After he/she brushes the hair out of their eyes, they let out a deep sigh and think, "Another manuscript." What with meetings to attend, authors to entertain, editing, reading and writing, what will the big old manuscript look like to YOU?

Now imagine that same publisher being sent an envelope. In the envelope a writer has a book proposal and wants to know if they are interested in publishing the manuscript. They glance at the first page and it has your full name, approximate word count, estimated time of a finished manuscript (or if it is already finished) and the genre that your novel will fit into, ie: general fiction, thriller, fantasy, romance, western, historical.
Also make sure you are sending it to the proper editor. A romance editor won’t read a thriller’s proposal.

The second page you might provide info about you, the author. Things you’ve published thus far or maybe have never been published. Give them a few paragraphs to get to know you and let them know why you are right for the project you have in mind.

You’ll then provide a brief synopsis of the entire plot of your book. (Two pages maximum) Sell yourself, this might be what you’d read on a dust jacket that would have YOU interested in the book you’re about to buy.

Include 3 chapters of the book you have in mind. Your proposal should be no longer than 100 pages and no less than 50. If you want your work returned to you, be sure to include a SASE and make sure that they know that you want it returned in the cover letter. Always make sure to include the proper postage. A publisher is not going to go out and get the extra forty-cent stamp that YOU forgot.

So what are you going to do fellow writer? Are you going to fill the desk of a publisher with a 20 pound (or more) manuscript. Or give him/her something they can get through over coffee and a doughnut?

It is something to think about before you dive into the rejection pool. Ever wonder WHY you keep getting rejected? Maybe the publisher used your big thick manuscript along with someone else’s for some bookends. All the while reading a book proposal from some unknown.

1 comment:

June said...

Hi Joni,

For the first time writer, most publishers will not be interested in her novel unless it is FINISHED. This might not be true for an author who has multiple publications.

Why is this?

The first time writer is an unknown quantity, and the publisher/editor has no clue whether the author is capable or able to even complete the work.

As always the most important thing in submitting a manuscript is to follow the guidelines and submit your work to an appropriate publisher.

Take care,