Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Long and Winding Road - Part 1

I'm working on my book proposal. This is an essential document  when trying to interest a publisher.It's time-consuming, makes you think deeply about your book project and is the single most important piece of writing I will do, other than my book itself. There are eight sections to a proposal. It starts with the hook- grabbing the publisher's attention and then moves on to a market overview, overview of the author and what the author will do to promote the book, a competitive analysis and marketing plan must be included, an outline of each chapter of the book, a sample chapter (at least one) and then a summing up.

Over the past year I've thought about what I'll include in this document and I've done a lot of internet research on what makes a good proposal, who and what my competition is. I've considered approaching literary agents (that requires a query letter- works of art in themselves) but that's my plan B. Recently I contacted a publishing company in the UK but they publish your book for a fee i.e the author pays all the costs of publishing it. Sometimes it's called 'vanity publishing' though I don't like that word. I don't have money to do that (thus it's plan C) and I would prefer to go the traditional route. If the book was a success it could then be released in other formats.

Make no mistake, I want to earn money from my book as well from as a second one... but the journey is long and fraught and most authors don't make it. A few days ago I flipped through my manuscript and was horrified to discover I needed to write more. A YEAR HAD GONE BY on other important things and I'd done nothing to progress it. The last time I serious sat down with it I edited out 30,000 words. Turns out I probably need to write at least 10,000 more. That's not too much of a problem because I accumulate more experiences as time goes by but the crafting of a book is much more than just writing the words and organising the chapters.

It's not badly written, I'm a competent writer but am I an author? I looked at what I had written and felt jaded. It didn't seem magical. I'm not objective so I've decided to show my proposal and first three chapters to someone who might give me an honest opinion. Someone who writes and has published in the past. Otherwise I'd need to pay a book editor and I really don't have the resources for that just yet.

I've read a few books in my genre. There are few that are truly inspiring. There are some so bad I can't understand how they ever got published- absolute self-indulgent twaddle. Others are fun and light-weight but don't set anyone on fire nor do they promote thoughtfulness. All the authors in my genre have quite different stories and experiences to me but are mine too gritty, too 'real'? There's no sun-drenched do-up in Provence for me, no renovated chateau, no shacking up with a French boyfriend. My book is more like Big Brother, a reality TV show, a voyeuristic roller-coaster ride.

Self-doubt is natural. So is self-delusion. One thing's for sure, writing the proposal focuses the mind more on what I want, what I can do and, damn it, what makes my book a bit different. While it covers some of the same events as this blog it is definitely not this blog. It chooses its key events, it probes more deeply and delivers up some very personal recollections.

I don't believe it will disappoint my blog readers. In the meantime I'm also thinking about how to market it. Publishers expect authors to do a lot of the effort for themselves these days.


Post a Comment

I welcome your comments, contributions and feedback.