I’ve decided to talk about non-fiction book proposals for a while. If you write experimental poetry, or if you’ve stopped by to see if more rats have attacked me, you may have to skip a few posts.
To begin: my top four reasons for creating a thorough book proposal.
- It will force you to do all sorts of research that you might (if you’re me) be too lazy to do otherwise. You’ll have to search the library catalogue and the amazon listings for similar books. You’ll have to stop by a real, live bookstore. You’ll have to begin a collection of research sources that will help you once you’re actually writing.
- It will determine whether your idea can really become a book, or is actually destined to be a magazine article. Is there enough material? Can you brainstorm new connections between topics? Can you organize the information in an interesting way? Is there a format that will set your book apart from the others on the market?
- It will help your publisher to fully consider your ideas. If you happen to mention your brilliant concept while chatting with your publisher on the phone, as in, “Hey, I’d like to write a book for teens about possible ways the apocalypse might happen,” said publisher might then freak out and suggest that you not push teens further toward suicidal tendencies. However, a complete proposal might convince your publisher that the apocalypse can actually be a fascinating and uplifting topic.
- It will help you decide whether you actually want to write the book. If you’ve gotten halfway through an outline and you’re dreading writing the sample chapter, the topic’s not for you. Better to find out while writing your proposal for Composting and Rats: A Memoir than to sign a contract and find out after you’ve committed to six months of thinking about rodents.
Coming soon: the ingredients of a book proposal.