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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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January retreat! Women & Words at Willows Lodge

Willows3Saturday, January 31–Sunday, February 1, 2015

Do you dream of publishing a book, but aren’t sure what path to take—or even how to start? We’ve heard this a lot and we’re here to help. The good news is that it’s not that hard; in fact, it can be exhilarating, especially if you are guided and encouraged throughout the process!

To that end…

Start the new year by taking care of you and your book idea by coming to our one-of-a-kind retreat for women writers! Whether you have a glimmer of a concept or a polished draft, we have structured a weekend 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. It all takes place at Woodinville’s acclaimed (and cozy) Willows Lodge, where distractions feel a world away.

Here’s what you’ll experience during this one-of-a-kind retreat:

  • On Saturday, we’ll focus on your book project and crafting a proposal. After a state of publishing overview, we’ll settle into the agenda, offering up-to-the-minute intel about what publishers and agents do and don’t want from new writers. After lunch, we’ll guide you step-by-step on how to create a killer proposal in a hands-on workshop. You’ll have a chance to meet other writers over drinks and dinner from the Barking Frog, before gathering for a late-night writing jam in your pajamas. We supply the milk and cookies and writing prompts!
  • On Sunday, we’ll turn our attention to the submission process and the ultimate goal of getting published. After an informal publishing chat and continental breakfast, get ready to brainstorm in a book marketing workshop. Fun exercises will result in a creative marketing campaign for your book and a solid author platform that you can present to publishers. We’ll end the day with an insightful and encouraging talk about submissions, query letters, and staying focused and motivated through the process.
  • Retreat attendees can add on optional activities, including a Sunday lunch or spa treatment.
  • A special room rate will be available for attendees who would like to arrive on Friday. We will be on hand Friday evening for an informal publishing chat and one-on-one time.

Rates starting at $756.50 per person (excluding tax and gratuity) based on double occupancy. To make your reservation, please contact Kathleen Boyd at 425-424-2589 or via e-mail Kathleen.boyd@willowslodge.com.

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

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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


Filed under Craft a Winning Proposal, Publishing Series, Publishing Toolkit, The Business of Books with Jen & Kerry, Uncategorized

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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Who’s Reviewing Your Book Proposal?: The Chain of a Pitch

We started the Business of Books because we want to get writers to think like publishers. We want you to constantly remember that publishing is a business. As personal and dear to your heart as your idea may be, it is still a product that has to be sold. So you need to think about to whom you’re pitching. It’s not just about getting the right agent or editor to love your concept. In reality, a whole team weighs in before acquiring your book—and your pitch needs to speak to everyone and answer the questions they might have. Use our handy chart to see who you have to win over before you book can hit the stands and hands of readers.Image

We can help! We offer a Publishing Toolkit that will help you develop an on-point proposal that will address the questions of everyone weighing in during the acquisitions process.

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A 4-Step Process to Finding the Right Publisher for Your Book

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“How do I find the right publisher?” We get this a lot. Publishing often can seem like a mystery, and one of the biggest sources of confusion for an aspiring author is figuring out to which publishing house to submit. Here, in our experience, are some tips to determining where your book might find a happy home.

1. Go to the bookstore. Yes, an actual brick-and-mortar bookstore. You could also hit up the library. Describe your book to the staff and ask for books that might be considered similar to yours, in topic, voice, concept, or physical format. Look at the shelves and find the best competing titles. Now, look at the spine, title page or copyright page and note the publisher. If there is more than one book by the same publishing house, asterisk that name.

2. Look at acknowledgments page. While you’re perusing the competition, look at the acknowledgments page (like the one at right, from Deepak Chopra’s The Soul of Leadership). This is our Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys tip. Unless the author had a falling out during the editing process, both the agent and editor will be named. Write those down, as this will further assist you in sending out targeted submissions.

3. Subscribe to industry newsletters. Publishers Lunch is a daily e-newsletter put out by Publisher’s Marketplace. For a small monthly fee, you can subscribe to it and search for recent book deals by key words, publisher, author or agent. We recommend signing up for a month and doing some targeted research to further refine your submission list. Shelf Awareness is a free e-newsletter that offers similar information but doesn’t have a robust search engine.

4. Look at submission guidelines. Now that you have your short list, finish up your research by going to each publisher’s website. Review their submission guidelines and see if they take unsolicited submissions. While you’re there, also look at their recently published books and mission statement. Does it jibe with your book? If a publisher does not take unagented submissions, all is not lost. Reviews agents (gathered during steps 2 & 3) in the same manner. Check out their submission guidelines and consider submitting your proposal to them.

Regardless of where you submit, however, you will need a solid proposal to secure a book deal or representation. For more information on the book proposal process, register for our Feb. 9 workshop in Seattle or purchase our Publishing Toolkit. Write on!

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