Congratulations, you have the best idea for a novel. Should you prepare the novel and send it to as many publishers as you can? Should you seclude yourself in your house until you have grinded out at least 80,000 words? Many new authors wonder what the right course of action is. Further, what should be included in a book proposal? In my job at Grammarly, I have seen dozens of book proposals prepared at various stages of the writing process. Some writers have succeeded in publishing their books using certain methods to improve their writing. One method reminds me of an efficient way to assemble jigsaw puzzles. Let us discuss how this strategy translates to writing book proposals.
- Do the edges first.
According to the WikiHow website, one should gather all the border pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Once you have collected them all, you lay out the border of the puzzle. Similarly, you should prepare the preliminaries of your novel. Flesh out the plot and the main characters. The basic function of a book proposal is to give the potential publisher a glimpse of what the entire manuscript would be like. Rather you should prepare the entire manuscript or send proposals at the idea-stage is a matter of debate. Publishers may want to make suggestions, so an entire manuscript may engender concern that the writer will not be open to make revisions. You can strike a balance somewhere in the middle by preparing a rough draft.
- Put the pieces in groups.
Wikihow suggests grouping the pieces according to kind. As you research publishers, you can group them in a similar manner. Reject the ones that do not publish the type of book that you want to write. Make a list of those that are strong possibilities. Create a second list of weaker possibilities. Some authors prefer targeting the weaker possibilities first. This way, your chance of receiving a positive response increases rather than wanes with time.
Note: You may generate multiple proposals, divided by genre. If your book may appeal to religious, women’s fiction, and historical fiction readers, you can develop several variations of the proposal. Each version would highlight the book’s place in a different genre.
- Focus on one set of pieces at a time.
The counsel is to work on the grouped sets one at a time. As you put entire groups together, the puzzle will begin to take shape. If you try to attack all the parts of a book proposal simultaneously, the task may overwhelm you. Instead, work on one section at a time. A book proposal should contain a one-page summary of the gist of your novel, a statement about the target audience and how your book is unique, your credentials, a proposed timeline for completion, and a complete sample chapter. Proofreading is essential. Use a free proofreading program online to check each section. For a more detailed explanation of the elements of a proposal, consult this website.
- Fill in the background.
To finish the jigsaw puzzle, fill in the background. You need to start finalizing your novel. Your publisher can make suggestions that will help you sell your novel to a contemporary market. If you have no publisher yet, work on the book anyway. You will appreciate the headstart once you hear from an interested publishing house.
These steps are good for more than the 1000-piece lighthouse puzzle in your closet. You can use them to write a great book proposal. Frame your work by creating a rough outline of your novel. Decide which genres you will pursue, and make a list of publishing houses that cater to your target market. Give care to each section of the book proposal, and scrutinize each section to make sure that it contains no errors. Once you have the proposal complete, work on writing and revising your novel as you wait for responses. May each response you receive contain good news!
Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.