Lots of people sell their book idea after writing a sizzling proposal- why not you too? I mean, why spend months writing a book that might not even sell? Find out faster with a proposal.
And it’s true- people buy sizzle not sausages. When faced with a plate of already cooked bangers the publishers begin to wonder- hey they don’t look as good as they smelt and sounded before!
But look at the downside(s).
1. You submit your proposal and to make it convincing you do a ton of research. Research is more like pizza than revenge- it’s a dish best tasted hot, (revenge is a dish best tasted cold I am assured) and not all clammy and maybe reheated a year down the line. You’re hot to trot- do the book when you feel intrigued by the research- which means now.
2. Your loving agent suggests back breaking changes that are easy to verbalise but a pig to do- months go by as you to and fro making these changes even BEFORE submission to an editor.
3. One house is interested…but…they’d like some changes to the proposal. Back you go- wasting time on a document that bears about as much relation to the finished book as a stonemason’s scribbles on a scrap of vellum bear to the Venus de Milo.
4. Finally they say yes- and then you have to write it. But you’ve been stalled for months so it’s really hard to gear up again. More time goes by.
So that’s it in a nutshell. Time. If you play the proposal game then you are dancing to their bloated corporate time scheme not your own lean and mean writer’s scheme. The trick, I learned the hard way, is to write the book when YOU want to write it, not when the head of marketing at Bloggs International thinks ‘the time is right’.
Don’t write proposals write books. OK there’s no sizzle, you get less money- maybe- so what- you just write another book in the time you saved. It feels better to write more rather than less, especially if you WANT to write. And never ever underestimate the energy boost you get by doing more rather than less.
And if you feel you need external, ie. publisher validation, about whether your book should be written or not think again. The best and most powerful position is to say to yourself - this gets written with or without a publisher. It's going out on Lulu.com (check it out) if necessary (a nice new luxury denied writers of yesteryear).
EXCEPTIONS:1. People with other jobs and loads of time, ie. NOT professional writers. For them it might make sense to spread the work out over years not months.
2. People who feel the need to ‘have a deal in place’ before they commit time to a project- for whatever reasons, usually financial.
3. A US publisher and increasingly some UK publishers want 'input' and reject whole non-fiction books out of hand (but not fiction). Fear not- create and submit a proposal AFTER you've finished the book. Tell them you wrote it super fast.
4. You have a great existing relationship with a publisher and the proposal doesn’t have to be huge and comprehensive and you know they won’t get silly about rewriting it. But be really sure about this…
Remember- writers write books not plans for books. Do it now!