My writing life has been a series of transitions and I’m guessing yours has been, too. Most of us are an eclectic bunch. We work with clients on various types of projects, from technical papers to promotional copy, to full-blown marketing and branding campaigns, to ghostwriting or editing book-length projects that span a wide range of topics from practical how-to nonfiction through highly creative works.
These days I spend the majority of my time as a ghostwriter for other book authors. It has opened me to subject areas I might never have explored on my own and it’s broadened my experience and my knowledge. It has been highly rewarding, both personally and professionally. And, yes, it’s quite profitable, too.
But here is something else I learned: unless you are a “preferred” ghostwriter hired by a publisher or agent who continually feeds you assignments for their signed authors, the majority of your clients are going to ask for your help getting published. And that little factoid opened another profit-filled opportunity for me to develop an ancillary essay writing service of writing agent-attracting book proposal packages. Whether it’s for client book projects or your own, here’s how you can, too:
The Anatomy of a Great Book Proposal
Step One: Bait the Hook
Every book has an angle; a hook that captures the potential reader’s interest before they ever read your synopsis. This is essential to attracting an agent, too. Be succinct. Make a statement or ask a question that the reader can’t help but want to learn more about.
Step Two: Present the Concept and Credentials
What’s the overall concept? Who is the author and what are his/her credentials? What does the competition look like? Clarity is key when presenting your concept. A muddled overview of your idea indicates a muddled thought process and that won’t get you the right kind of attention.
Step Three: Define the Market Potential
Who is your target audience and why is this book a good fit for it? Do a little research to identify groups, organizations, and specifics about the most likely reader to buy your book—and where to find them. The goal is to instill confidence that a publisher who invests time and money into your project will get a return on that investment.
Step Four: Give ‘em the Goods
Detail an outline of the chapters with a synopsis for each one. Prepare a sample chapter. Include any articles you’ve had published on the subject, endorsements about your work, and your resume. You want to appear organized, professional, and demonstrate that you (or the author) are ready and able to write the book.
Step Five: Write a “Knock Your Socks Off” Query
Some writers think that the proposal query letter is the first thing they need to write when, in fact, it is typically the last. Your book proposal package is the product and the query letter is your advertisement for that product. You will be most ready to write your query letter once you have completed the other steps that bring you clarity of your message and approach. Your query letter should be only a few paragraphs, using a summarized version of the information prepared for the first three steps. It will go to agents and/or publishers to peak their interest in your product and when someone says, “yes, I’m interested,” you better be ready to send the product!
I’ve given you the general steps for writing a great proposal, but there is so much more to doing it right. I am happily helping my clients (and getting paid well) to attract agents for their books using these steps but I didn’t learn them through osmosis or trial and error—I learned them from someone who had success with this plan—over and over again. Last May I purchased Book Proposal Secrets and it became my step by step blueprint for delivering great proposals for my clients.
In Book Proposal Secrets you will learn a detailed ten-step process that encompasses the condensed five steps I’ve given you, and you will be able to do them with confidence and clarity. You’ll also learn how to find reputable agents, receive outline templates for various types of books, and see samples, tips and tactics that skyrocket your chances for getting noticed.
Despite the hype and hoopla about self-publishing and going digital, the traditional route of working with agents and traditional publishers is alive and well – and they are still looking for great manuscripts. All you need is a great book proposal package that grabs the agent’s attention, demonstrates knowledge and expertise, and convinces them that they would be remiss to not represent your book.meow