Saturday, March 29, 2008

Why Novelists Need Book Proposals That Sell

This past week I did another teleseminar about book proposals. If you follow this link, you can download the full teleseminar but also make sure you read the comment from Krista Phillips in that section. She asks a question that I have heard often over the last few years, "I have seen your book Book Proposals That Sell referenced several places on the Internet, and seen great reviews posted for it. Most of the reviews note that it is a great reference for non-fiction proposals, however I am primarily a fiction novelist. Is the book still a good reference for us fiction writers out there?"

While Book Proposals That Sell has over 75 Five Star reviews on Amazon, there have been a few critics (follow this link if you doubt me) who don't feel like novelists need this book. In this entry on teleseminar about book proposals, I want to tackle this question and give you three reasons that you need this book if you are a novelist. These reasons will also apply to the professional and experienced writer. I've heard many writers resist purchasing this book because they have other book proposal books or felt like the book was only for beginners. These objections are also false in my view because many professional and long-term experienced writers (fiction and nonfiction) have gained insight from the pages this book.

First, let me point out this endorsement from Brandilyn Collins, a bestselling novelist who has read the book and says, "With years of experience as an author and an editor, Terry Whalin has written a book that can help any writer. Book Proposals That Sell offers great advice on building the nonfiction proposal and also explains the inner workings of the editor's and publication board's role in acquiring a new book. Novelists, too, will find this background information very helpful. All authors need to understand the uphill battle they face in selling a book before they can be fully prepared to submit their absolute best proposal or manuscript. Whalin's book lays out what they'll face--and then shows them how to win the battle." OK, I marked in bold the final portion of this quote for emphasis.

Now to my three reasons novelists need to read this book:

1. Understand the Rarity of This Information

For over twenty years, I've read a how-to-write book each month. I've got shelves of these books and periodically I have to clear them out. It is rare to find any editor who writes about the process of book acquisitions. In fact, I've heard a number of my editor colleagues say that they don't like to write. If you travel the writer's conference circuit as I have for many years, you will find that many of these editors don't teach workshops because they don't like to teach or have any inclination in this area. The key decision makers haven't written books (or even magazine articles) about how and why they make decisions about which books to publish and why.

I wrote Book Proposals That Sell from the perspective of the acquisitions editor or the person reviewing your submissions--whether a novel or a nonfiction book. I've read many how-to-write fiction books yet the bulk of my writing for years has been nonfiction. Why? Because I want to constantly improve my storytelling for nonfiction and have gained a great deal of insight from these writers.

2. Understand The Pressure and Mindset of the Editor

Every novelist needs to understand the mindset of the publishing executive to succeed in their desire to receive a book contract. Whether you are trying to write for a particular magazine or publisher or just get published in general, the first step is to understand your reader. That first reader is the editor who is actively reading to locate quality material for their publishing house. You can gain a lot of insight into the editor through reading Book Proposals That Sell.

3. Understand A Great Story Is Assumed and You Need Something More

If your novel is published, it must be a compelling story. The editor or literary agents who champions your novel will need this foundation. Every novelist (and nonfiction writer) should be working on learning their craft. In Book Proposals That Sell, I help novelists understand that in today's market they need something more than a good story. Platform is critical in the nonfiction area but it's the way to rejection-proof your story in the fiction area. Can you take the secrets in this book and turn it toward your novel submission? I know many novelists who have done it successfully. Will you follow the path that they have blazed?

As Sally E. Stuart, the author of The Christian Writers' Market Guide, wrote, "Selling a book may be one of the most intimidating challenges you will ever face. However, an intimate knowledge of the process helps make it easier. Terry Whalin offers his broad knowledge of this business--from both sides of the editor's desk--make him the perfect resource for helping you develop a proposal that sells."

Some readers for this post will probably add some additional reasons. In this post, I've attempted to dispel some of the doubters.

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2 Comment:

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Krista Phillips Left a note...

I'm sold! I'll go buy it today! (I already have my proposal written, but the good Lord knows that it could use alot of improving!!)



At 6:52 PM, Blogger Kristi Holl Left a note...

I'll chime in as a tween fiction writer who bought and used your book to sell a mystery series that is due out next month, and to write another series idea that is almost ready to submit. Much of the same material is needed to sell fiction as nonfiction. I found your book so very helpful!


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