Episode 19- I wish to propose.
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Our guest today is Stephanie Chandler
Stephanie Chandler is the author of several books including Booked Up! How to Write, Publish, and Promote a Book to Grow Your Business, From Entrepreneur to Infopreneur: Make Money with Books, eBooks and Information Products, and The Author’s Guide to Building an Online Platform: Leveraging the Internet to Sell More Books. Stephanie is also founder and CEO of http://AuthorityPublishing.com, which specializes in custom publishing for non-fiction books, and http://BusinessInfoGuide.com, a directory of resources for entrepreneurs. A frequent speaker at business events and on the radio, she has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, BusinessWeek, Inc.com, Wired magazine, and many other media outlets.
Stephanie, you advise writers to create a book proposal even if they are self publishing can you tell us more about that?
A book proposal is required when pitching a manuscript to literary agents or editors in pursuit of landing a traditional book deal. Similar to a business plan for an entrepreneur, writing a book proposal forces the author to dig in and do some important research while also planning the details of the book.
Though you can certainly self-publish a book without a proposal, this is where many new authors make some big mistakes when releasing their first books. Writing a proposal helps you differentiate your work from the competition, identify a need in the market for your materials, develop marketing plans, and create a concise and compelling manuscript.
Can you walk us through the steps?
Elements of a Book Proposal
An overview is typically two pages, summarizing the book, the market demand, and why you’re the best person to write the book. Even though it’s the first section in a book proposal, I usually write the overview last because it is a summary of the rest of the elements of the proposal.
This is a compelling summary of your book, typically two or three pages long. It should hook the reader and compel him to want to read more. You can also view this as an extended version of the sales copy used on the book jacket. If you’re pursuing an agent or editor, this is where you can really get their attention. The exercise of writing the synopsis helps you position your book as a must-read, while developing key talking points about why your book is great. (And it is great, right? If not, then use this opportunity to go back to work and make it great!)
3) Market Demand
Here is the place to identify your specific target audience. Better yet, quantify that market. Look for statistics on how many potential readers are out there. For example, if you have written a business book for women, find stats on how many women business owners are in the U.S.
4) Competitive Analysis
Identify five or more books that are potential competitors of your book and explain in detail how your book is different or better than each title. There are many benefits to this exercise. First, competing titles demonstrate that there is a need in the market for your subject matter. Second, this is where you can focus on differentiation for your book. You will want to understand the competition so that you can ensure that your book stands out. If you do nothing else, make sure you spend time analyzing the competition so that you can answer the question, “How is your book different from the rest?”
5) Marketing Plan
Every author needs a marketing plan, which should be in motion long before the book is in print. Agents and editors look for authors with a “platform,” which means that the author should come to the party with a built-in audience of people who are ready to buy the book. A platform can include speaking to thousands of people each year, running a high-traffic blog or website, maintaining a large mailing list (thousands of people) or having other networks that can generate impressive book sales.
Another important consideration is that agents don’t want to see what you will do, they want to see what are doing–the marketing efforts you’re making long before the book becomes reality. And remember, even if you’re self-publishing, there is an important lesson here. If you want your books to sell, you should begin building your audience early. Book marketing requires ongoing effort. Some tactics to consider for your marketing plan include blogging, social media engagement, professional speaking, writing articles, working with joint venture partners, building a mailing list, conducting media interviews, and spending time in communities where your target audience can be found.
6) Chapter Outline
Even if your manuscript is still in progress, a solid chapter outline demonstrates the flow of the book and the materials covered. Below each chapter heading, include a brief synopsis of the content within the chapter. A chapter outline should have a logical flow of information with compelling chapter titles.
7) About the Author
Here is where you should convince the reader that you are the right person to write this book. This should not be an extended biography about where you grew up and what schools you attended–unless these details are relevant to the book. Instead, it should focus on your experience as it relates to your book. Mention any previous media coverage you have received or involvement in any groups or associations that reach your target audience.
8.) Sample Chapters
When reviewing non-fiction books, most agents and editors want to see two or three sample chapters. These don’t need to be in order, but they should represent your best work.
The truth is that writing a book proposal is hard work, but the exercise of doing so will inevitably help prepare you for success–whether you plan to pursue a traditional book contract of self-publish your work.
Bring out your dead
Picasso could never paint what I have seen,
Nor Beethoven play to my heart.
There’s a place in your heart where the words still linger,
Like the warmth of a long summer day.
In his mind the world of inks and dyes collide,
To paint a self-portrait only he believes.
A picture based on guilt and pride,
The unsteady hand tries to shows us what he sees.
So tell me a different story,
Tell me something filled with joy,
Use words that I don’t normally hear.
For when the words that are remembered,
And the listening ears that finally seem to hear…
Use the words that I can paint one thousand pictures.
Word of the week
G K Chesterton called the cleerihew a “severe and stately form of free verse”, but then he had been a close friend from schooldays of the man who invented it, Edmund Bentley. Indeed, Chesterton illustrated the first book of whimsical verses, Biography for Beginners, which Bentley published in 1905 under the name of E. Clerihew.
The cover of the first edition of Bentley’s book of clerihews
The form is slight but not slighting, conventionally consisting of a quatrain with the name of the biographee as the first line. The lines are of unequal lengths, rhymed AABB, often written in a flat-footed or mangled way more reminiscent of prose than verse. The first, which Edmund Bentley is said to have composed during a boring science class at St Paul’s School, was:
Sir Humphry Davy
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.
Clerihew was Bentley’s middle name, which was given him (and which he in turn passed to his son Nicholas) to perpetuate his mother’s maiden name, Margaret Richardson Clerihew, Clerihew being an old Scottish surname. It was applied to the verse form by others and seems to have first surfaced in its own right as the name in 1928.
Sir Christopher Wren
Said, “I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls
Say I am designing St. Paul’s.”
Someone who creates clerihews is a clerihewer, an appropriate term for a person who hacks such lines out of the living language.
All this information can be overwhelming to a newbie writer. Take a few minutes and write about what you do when you do nothing. Maybe you are doing it right now. What is your favorite thing to do when you do nothing? Write it down, and remember it when you get overwhelmed.
Stephanie can be found: http://AuthorityPublishing.com, which specializes in custom publishing for non-fiction books, and http://BusinessInfoGuide.com,
Catharine can be found: http://www.yourbookstartshere.com @cbramkamp
Damien can be found: http://www.newbiewriters.com @newbiewriters.