Tag Archives: book proposal

Kerry goes to Mexico! Publishing Toolkit goes on sale!

art Toolkit cover_265wideSummer is wrapping up and it’s likely your thoughts are turning to fall, sweaters, and books (hopefully your own!). Meanwhile, some exciting news is happening here at BoB headquarters. Kerry has decided to relocate to Merida, Mexico, with her family from September 2016–June 2017. She plans to learn Spanish (or at least her kids will!), travel, experience a new culture, and work on her own writing.

But do not fear! Even though she’s freaking out about Kerry’s run for the border, Jen will be holding down the BoB fort here in Seattle, and our popular 2-on-1 proposal reviews will still be available. If you’ve been considering this service, be sure to book early, as our availability may be a bit more limited. If you’d like to know more about these reviews, click here. (FYI: Jen will be teaching an author platform class as part of the Seattle Public Library’s Seattle Writes program on September 17 and December 10. More on those free workshops here.)

We’d also like to get you back in the swing of proposal progress by giving you a special offer. Our essential Publishing Toolkit is 100-plus pages of insider intel, including all sorts of publishing information, worksheets, key book contract info, marketing and author platform advice, and two complete proposals to use as templates. It is the best possible DIY guide for whipping your proposal into shape, and we recommend it to anyone planning to pitch a book. Until Sept. 15, we’re offering the Toolkit as a downloadable PDF for $69.

It’s rare that we put our $99 Toolkit on sale, so don’t miss the window—click here to order!

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Only a few spots left! Register NOW for our May Class: Craft a Winning Book Proposal

bookstackDue to popular demand, we’ve teamed with with the Queen Anne Writers Studio to bring you our book proposal workshop! To date, we’ve had many students turn their dream of publishing into a reality, and this class is where many of them started. One student even said, “I went from feeling hopeless to hopeful.” Our classes have a tendency to do that to people.

Here’s the thing: You may have a terrific book idea ready to set the publishing world on fire. Alas, without a spot-on book proposal, it may never see the light of day. Don’t let this happen to you! Learn how to create a savvy and professional proposal that will make publishers and agents sit up and take notice. During our 4-hour workshop, we will walk you through the key elements of any successful proposal—including title/subtitle, opening pitch, author bio, and marketing plan—and help you polish each one with hands-on exercises and individual feedback. Class size is small so you and your idea will get plenty of attention.

Make no mistake: Crafting a killer, on-point proposal is absolutely essential to succeeding in the current marketplace no matter what publishing route you take. You’ll leave this workshop not only committed to getting the book deal of your dreams, but with a concrete start to every section of your proposal. Don’t you feel more hopeful already?

When: Saturday, May 14, 1–5pm

Where: Tulinda Yoga Studio, 618 McGraw Street, Queen Anne

Who: Suitable for any writers actively working on or thinking about a book. No matter the genre, where you are in the writing process, or how you’d ideally like to publish, this class will ensure you have the best shot at publication. (While book proposals are expected for nonfiction titles, we encourage all aspiring authors to write a proposal, as it will make their submission—and their book—stronger.)

Fee: $199. You can register via PayPal here. Your payment in full confirms your registration and reserves your spot. Space is limited to 15, so register early.

What to bring: Bring something on which to write, be it laptop or pen and paper. (Please charge up before coming and bring your power cord, and we’ll do our best to accommodate your charging needs.) Please also bring your mobile coffee mug or water bottle. We’ll have coffee, tea, and water on hand.

(photo: craftbuds.com)

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New Services to Help YOU Get Published

publishSpring is in the air, new ideas are blooming, and business is booming here at Business of Books headquarters. Due to popular demand, we’re rolling out some exciting new individual offerings for our clients. As always, our mission is to help you put your best foot forward with agents and publishers—and get the book deal you deserve. We encourage you to check out our services to make sure your proposal, query/cover letter, and submission list are spot on and have the absolute best chance for representation and/or a publishing deal.

NEW! Comprehensive Proposal Development & Consult Package
This new service takes you step-by-step through the proposal process, including a personalized kickoff meeting to set a schedule and parameters for your project, regular check-ins to review progress and keep you on track, and guidance throughout your proposal’s development. It culminates with our 2-on-1 proposal review for a perfectly on-point proposal, as well as a review of your query letter, cover letter, and submission list. $2,000.

NEW! Query Letter, Cover Letter & Submission List Review
Even if your proposal is good to go, you still need a compelling and salable query and cover letter—not to mention the right people to pitch it to. This service entails a comprehensive electronic review and detailed feedback on your cover letter, query letter, and agent/publisher submission list. $499

2-on-1 Proposal Review
This popular service provides our professional advice and concrete revisions to ensure your proposal rises out of the slush pile. You send us your draft proposal electronically; we add our comments and suggestions right into the file. We also provide a detailed overall assessment that covers every section of the proposal. $599

Publishing Toolkit
Are you a DIY type? Do you wish you had Jen & Kerry around as a desktop reference? Then our Publishing Toolkit is for you. This invaluable resource, available as a binder or PDF, will walk you through the proposal process and beyond, including insider tips on submissions, contracts, publisher relations, and more. With 100-plus pages of publishing intel plus exercises, worksheets, and two sample nonfiction proposals, it’s a steal at $99.

Looking for something other than what you see here? We’re happy to discuss the unique needs of your project. Email us for rates and details.

(Photo: adirondackcenterforwriting.com)

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How to Get Seattle’s Talent into Print

Nicole Brodeur 122015We are thrilled that Nicole Brodeur mentioned The Business of Books and our upcoming retreat in her Sunday column. If you have a book idea but don’t know how to get published, come to our January publishing retreat at Willows Lodge. Read the article here.

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Start your book proposal before you finish your manuscript

It’s true. It’s a smart idea to start your book proposal even while your manuscript is still in progress.

To that end, join us for Get Published!, an intensive and results-oriented weekend workshop for aspiring authors on January 23 & 24, 2016! In just 36 hours, writers will leave with all the tools they need to craft a successful proposal and pitch their book to agents and publishers with confidence. For more information on the retreat, check out this video:

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Get Published! A Retreat for Aspiring Authors at Willows Lodge

bookstackOver the weekend of January 23–24, 2016, join us for a one-of-a-kind publishing retreat for aspiring authors at Woodinville’s award-winning Willows Lodge! Whether you have a glimmer of a concept or a polished draft, we have structured the two-day retreat to help you get published, no matter your genre. During this practical and inspirational weekend, you’ll be treated to hands-on workshops and receive individual attention to move your book project forward in a significant way. You’ll leave the weekend with your proposal, query letter, and submission plan well under way.

To make your reservation, please contact Shaina Phillips at 425-424-2965 or via e-mail at shaina.phillips@willowslodge.com.

There will be a 7 day advance cancellation policy and package price will be charged at that time.

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7 tips to picking great sample text for your book proposal

ImageWe’ve reviewed dozens of proposals and it’s always surprising to see what sample text our clients choose to include. Sometimes we’re happily surprised. But frequently, we find that the manuscript excerpt, while well-written, is off base for a compelling submission. Here, a few do’s and don’ts to consider when selecting sample text for your book proposal.

1. Do pick your most representative sample.
This is the most important thing to consider when selecting sample text. Your text should convey the tone and voice of your book, the pace, the information, etc. If you are writing a how-to book, include a chapter that covers all the types of projects or instruction that would be in the book. If you are writing a novel, pick a selection that that captures the essence of the book. Don’t worry about giving away the climax; this is the chance to wow, and whatever part of your manuscript is going to do that is what you should use.

2. Do include examples of all your extra elements.
Along the lines of representative copy, think about all the various elements you envision in your book and include as many of them as possible. If you plan on having sidebars or charts, include at least one of them in your sample. If you plan on featuring your own photography, insert a sample (no originals, though) into your manuscript.

3. Don’t just include the beginning of your book.
Most writers gravitate toward including the first chapter or two of their book in their proposal. It’s usually the most polished and thought-out text. However, you may not be putting your best foot forward. If you are writing a novel, the first chapter might start out with a bang, but it can often include a lot of set-up and exposition that doesn’t get to the heart of the matter or the action. If you are pitching a romance, your excerpt better have some juicy bits. If you’re writing a travel memoir, there should probably be some travel going on.

4. Do use several excerpts, if it makes sense.
You don’t have to send complete chapters. If it makes sense to give a sampling of your book through several excerpts, go for it. If it’s a novel or memoir, set the scene with a few sentences to explain where each excerpt falls in the plot.

5. Do polish it. And polish it again.
You’ve probably looked at your manuscript a million times. That doesn’t mean that it’s perfect; in fact, it can mean that your eyes are glossing over typos at this point. Read your text over and over again. And enlist someone else you trust to read your proposal and sample text. Give them specific direction: do they understand the plot from the sample text? Do the instructions or recipes make sense? Do they have any questions after reading it?

6. Don’t get too attached to one piece of writing.
It may be the most lyrical, polished, gorgeous bit of prose you’ve ever written. But does it convey what the book is about, does it advance the plot? Step away from your manuscript and look at it with a critical eye, maybe even put yourself in the shoes of the acquiring editor. Ask yourself the hard questions and if this isn’t the sample that’s going to both impress and inform an inquiring editor, choose another excerpt.

7. Do read the publisher’s or agent’s submission guidelines.
We know it’s hard to choose just a few pages to include but be mindful of what an agent or publishing house asks for. If you send 50 pages when they’ve asked for 15, you’re in jeopardy of having your entire submission dismissed. Only send the amount of text requested.

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30 Days to a Winning Book Proposal Intensive Workshop Scheduled for 5/18

With our wildly effective proposal intensive, let 2013 be the year that you get a sweet publishing deal! Back by popular demand, we are offering our highly rated 30 Days to a Winning Book Proposal course. We are offering a full-day workshop on Saturday, May 18. We created this intensive program to illuminate each step of the book proposal process, breaking it down into an easy-to-follow 30-day plan. We will cover every aspect of the development process, detail how to write various components, and provide “homework” so you can move your proposal forward efficiently on your own. You’ll leave with a plan for an on-point proposal, ready to send to publishers or agents.

Included in this results-oriented workshop is the Publishing Toolkit: A Hands-on Resource for Burgeoning Authors. This binder is filled with all the notes and materials to develop your successful proposal from start to finish—including step-by-step advice, helpful exercises and worksheets, key information on creating a targeted submission list, and real sample proposals that have sold to publishers.

During this all-day workshop, learn how to build your proposal with a successfully proven 4-part program:

Part 1: Research & Refine Your Idea
Develop a winning book idea that will rise out of the slush pile. You will:

  • Hone a viable nonfiction or fiction idea
  • Learn how to research the marketplace and competition
  • Brainstorm formats
  • Develop a publisher and agent wish list

Part 2: Sell Your Book—and Yourself
Create a killer author platform and marketing plan that will demand attention. You will:

  • Uncover the many strengths and attributes that you can bring to the table as an author
  • Learn how to leverage social media and other venues to build a strong platform
  • Brainstorm a robust and creative marketing plan for your title

(At this point in the day, you’ll have an hour to grab lunch on your own.)

Part 3: Craft Compelling Copy
Focus your proposal with a great title and introduction, and reel in editors and agents with compelling text. You will:

  • Develop a strong opening pitch
  • Learn how to create a complete, detailed outline and on-point sample text

Part 4: Submit Your Proposal
Lastly, create a savvy final package and target the right publisher. Learn how to:

  • Draft an arresting query letter
  • Develop your submission list for agents or publishers
  • Discover the pros and cons of self-publishing
  • Get a basic grasp of advances and royalties
  • Put the final touches on your proposal submission.

Here are the details:
Saturday, May 18, 9:30am-5pm

Hotel 1000, 1000 First Ave., Seattle
Register now


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How Your Book’s Format Can Bolster Sales

The-mini-voodoo-kit--Here-s-a--5761172deck_final3How do you physically envision your book? Do you see your novel as a jacketed 6×9-inch hardcover with a $24.95 price point? Are you writing a romance that you can see as a mass market paperback that someone can tuck in their purse or read on the beach? Or do you visualize something more fancy and eye-catching? Maybe a lenticular cover that flips between two images? Or a cookbook that comes in a recipe box?

We both worked for publishing houses (Chronicle Books and Running Press) where format was always up for discussion in acquisition meetings. Our publishing companies specialized in gift products, where a compelling package can be the deciding factor in a customer wanting to hug it and pet it and call it their own.

When it comes to your book project, we want to challenge you to think outside the box, or spine, as the case may be. If all the books on your subject are weighty, does a more portable, pocket-sized book make sense? Could you offer a unique material or special feature, like a waterproof fly-fishing guide or scalloped edges on a pretty gift book?

Different formats and/or bells and whistles to consider when developing your book proposal:

  • Paperback vs. hardcover
  • Dust jacket, belly band (a paper band that encircles the book, usually containing sell copy), or fold-out flaps
  • Pocket-sized or smaller
  • Oversized
  • Wire binding (so the book lays flat)
  • Larger type (for easier reading)
  • Water-resistant pages
  • Cards
  • Box or kit
  • Book-plus (meaning is it a book plus something, like a toy)
  • Die-cut trim (so book is a special shape, such as round)
  • Special textures on pages (such as fuzzy or scratch and sniff)
  • Pocket or envelope built into cover
  • Special charm on a hangtag (a ribbon bookmark)

Thinking about how you can make your book’s format special or unique can help catch a publisher or agent’s eye, demonstrates that you’re a creative thinker, and may just be the thing that sets your book apart from the rest of the titles in your subject area.

When you compile your submission list, take time to dive into each publisher’s catalog. Do they have a pre-existing format into which your book would fit beautifully? Mention this in your proposal, as publishers already have pinned down the sourcing and pricing on these special specifications and will be able to assess your project with real numbers and real interest.

Taking the extra time to think of how your book looks, as well as what it says, may be just the thing that lands you a book deal and drives sales.

Learn more savvy tips on how to make your book proposal stand out in our Publishing Toolkit. Or subscribe to our monthly newsletter here.

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What Publishers REALLY Want You to Know

Sending out a book proposal for review by agents and publishers is an act of bravery. At The Business of Books, our raison d’etre is making sure you do it right…by way of a complete, polished, on-point book proposal that will give you the best possible chance at publication. Beyond that, you have to be savvy when submitting it. We recently interviewed publishers and agents in New York and asked them about some simple do’s and don’ts that they wish they could tell every writer. Listen up, potential authors!Whisper Art

DO know to whom you’re sending your proposal.
This translates as do your research. Over and over again, publishers have told us how frustrated they are with receiving proposals for the kinds of books they don’t publish. How would you like to work for a cookbook publisher and continually get pitches for children’s books or memoirs? Do your homework to ensure you’re sending your book to the right place; otherwise you waste your time and annoy the publisher.

DON’T pigeonhole the publisher.
Resist the urge to tell the publisher who they are (“You’re quirky,” “You’re intellectual,” “You’re prestigious”) when explaining why you’re sending them this book idea. It can make them bristle. Instead, tell them what other books they publish that you admire, and how your book might appeal to those same readers.

DO promote yourself and your idea as marketable.
Your book may be a labor of love, but it’s also a product that needs to be sold. In today’s publishing world, it’s more true than ever that writing the book is only half of your job. When you pitch your book, convey to the publisher that you understand this, and that you stand prepared to partner with them to promote and sell your book. Wow them with a terrific author bio and offer some creative ideas on how you might reach your target audience.

DON’T forget to say what the book is about.
Believe it or not, most publishers say that the most common rookie mistake is not clearly stating what the book is about. What is the book, what does it promise, and how does it deliver on that promise? It’s the author’s job to convey this clearly and passionately from the get-go.

Ready to learn more? Join us at our all-day book proposal seminar on Feb 9, “30 Days to a Winning Book Proposal,” or check out our helpful webinars, including “What Every Publisher Wants You to Know.” Write on!

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