Yesterday I decided it was time to finally sit down and write a book proposal. For the non-writers out there, a proposal is basically a document detailing who you are, what your book is about, why someone should publish it and what you’re going to do to help it get to readers once it’s published. I don’t know if it’s industry-standard, but it is in the Christian book market.
I’ve been avoiding it.
I wrote a book because a book was on my heart to write. I’ve always wanted to write books, for as long as I can remember. I like my book. I’m proud of it. People who read it come away and say nice things about it too, and they say “wow”, and they say “that’s really good”, and I say “thank you”. But then some other people overhear these things and they say “you wrote a book? What’s it about?” and I say “ummm…stuff?” and they say “what sort of stuff?” and I say “ummm…people and stuff?”
People and stuff. That’s really good, Megan. You should be a writer, with a gift of words like that. Yeah.
There’s another answer that I sometimes give when people ask me what I write about, and that is “I don’t know”. And this isn’t strictly true either, because you don’t write 81,000 words about something you don’t know what it is or whether anyone would ever want to read it. Well, okay. Some people do. I don’t.
I had this friend once who never ever let me say “I don’t know”. She’d always counter it with “And if you DID know, what would the answer be?” and suddenly I’d find myself giving her an answer, whether it was a thought, a guess, a revelation. I did know, I just didn’t want to talk about it.
Funnily enough, I found the proposal to be the same. As soon as I sat down with all the relevant if-you-want-to-write-a-fiction-proposal-you-need-to-ask-yourself-the-following-questions questions, a good coffee and an iPad suddenly I found I did know the answers after all. I wrote three pages of answers, and a hundred more questions.
It made me think: how many more areas of life are there “I don’t knows” that I simply haven’t taken the time to figure out the answers to. Sometimes it just takes someone to ask the right question.
Hello my friend. How are you today? Are there niggling questions in your life that you stop up with “I don’t knows”? Have you ever asked yourself the question “what if you DID know?”
Yikes — I never got back to you!! I LOVE it, Megan! Just wonderful. You SHOULD be proud.
In “regular” trade publishing (or in the hunt for an agent, in any case) only a non-fiction book requires a proposal. For fiction you’ve got to have the entire thing written beforehand and you then try to entice agents with a query letter (some agents expect a synopsis, as well). But I know nothing about the Christian market, so maybe it’s different?
I can’t remember whether you said you’ve seen Query Shark? Janet Reid (my amazing agent!! 😉 runs that website, and people find it quite helpful. I think you did say you know about it, actually. Might be worth checking back there as you write up whatever it is you need.
Good luck, and keep me posted
Thanks so much Deb, so glad you liked it! Yeah, I thought it was like that in the big outside world. Sounds much easier. I did a whole lot of research a while ago, most of which is buried in the back of my brain now. I read everything on the Query Shark site until I could hear that shark voice in my head every time I tried to write a query 🙂 She’s good. VERY good.
I actually outsourced the query letter section of my proposal to a writer friend. Fresh eyes. More experience. More time. I’ll definitely keep you posted.
I like that ‘if you DID know, what would your answer be?’ comeback. I think I might try it on my kids … and myself. Been saying I don’t know to myself a lot lately. Thanks for the prompt. 🙂
No worries Amanda, good luck with it! My friend used it on her kids all the time. It’s amazing how often we defer to “I don’t know” as a reason to not push ourselves into thinking further, deeper, or to block questions we’re not comfortable with. We’re funny creatures, really.
Good thoughts, Megan, about “I don’t knows”. Most times for me, “I don’t know” is just a cop-out. I say it when the truth is too difficult or when I’m too lazy to dig for it.
Funny thoughts, too, Megan. I love your sarcastic “People and stuff. That’s really good, Megan. You should be a writer, with a gift of words like that. Yeah.”
And I can’t wait to read your book!
Ditto the above comment. Obviously I’m no writer but I am a ‘friend’ of books. My late mom spent many thousands of hours reading books from het childhood up, the expression often on her lips was ‘you’re never lonely with a book. A book is a friend. So here’s wishing many happy friendships for yours.
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