Monthly Archives: May 2010

Proposal with a Bite!

Anyone else out there writing a non-fiction book proposal?

Holy moly! How complicated can it get? Not that I believed for one moment that writing a GOOD non-fiction book proposal – in this case a cookbook proposal – would be easy, but really? Come on! You’ve got to be kidding!

It’s tough enough to come up with a unique idea, back it with credentials and make it shiny with bells and whistles, but when it comes to writing a non-fiction book proposal, I’m convinced a writer needs a suit of armor and many, many weapons to succeed.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not angry or frustrated or even seriously irritated by the process. It’s actually a necessary one, and I’ve been known to vehemently encourage my Author Success Coach clients to do just that. I explain that writing a good Book Business Plan for fiction (as well as non-fiction) is just as important for gaining success as being born under a lucky star. I’m even teaching an online workshop next week for SavvyAuthors.com on Creating an Effective Book Business Plan, I believe in it THAT much. AND … it’s not like I don’t practice what I preach. I have built several wonderful book business plans that have proven successful in gaining literary agent representation for me. Now I’m pushing through the real jungle to create a powerful non-fiction book proposal for that agent to pitch. It’s a long story and I’ll try to abbreviate it.

Let’s start with the reason. Many writers have a book inside them – different from the one they’re currently pitching or have already become known for. Some fiction writers have a non-fiction lurking deep in their heart, a memoir or historical recounting, something personal and powerful they’d love to get out there. Some publishing professionals say it’s easier to get a fiction published first, then rock a pitch for your non-fiction piece. I say yes, that may be very true, it might be easier, but sometimes wowing someone with something so well conceived and so sharply presented can do the trick too. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt if you have a great hook.

My hook? Simple. See, I wrote a fun tongue-in-cheek supernatural romance about a twice dead vampire who gets one last chance to earn heaven. The only problem is, he has to live out his purgatory in a West Hollywood warehouse with several other dead supernaturals, all trying to earn redemption against their natures. Fun huh? My agent fell in love with Cold in California and offered representation within hours of finishing the manuscript. How cool is that? Then suddenly I didn’t know what to do with myself. The baby bird was now under other feathered tutelage and I was left to sigh and wait in the nest.

Having been a chef (among many other crazy things in this long life so far), I have always wanted to write a cookbook using my recipes. Now that I have the time to put together the book proposal, all I needed was the best hook possible. Something that would not only get the recipes out there but somehow build onto a platform for the Cold in California book series my agent is currently toting to publishers. The solution came like a wooden stake to the heart …

A Vampire Cookbook that playfully explored the various vampires in our lives (psychic, emotional and biological). Viola! A concept was born. The plan is to interlock the cookbook series with the supernatural romance Cold in California series and rock them both, letting them feed off each other (pun intended) as well as build on each other. This is a hybrid promotion I’ve never actually seen before in the market. Neat concept; now to mold it into a non-fiction book proposal that will knock the socks off my agent and the publishers he talks to.

Can I do it? Who knows. How hard will I try? Let’s just say I’m looking forward to adding more to the hundreds of rejections I’ve already gotten because baby, it only takes one “yes” to change the trajectory of a writer’s life. The more “nos” I get, the closer I come to a resounding “YES”!

Now for the warnings. This isn’t for the faint of heart at all.Writing a good book proposal is hard. It takes time and diligence, creative problem solving skills and lots of tools. The weapons are simple – creativity, courage, guts and hard work. Your armor must be lined with rejection letters and polished with conviction. The challenges – oh good lord, so many challenges, but if all the required information can be found, you will find it and compile it, by George!

Whew! Thank goodness I’ve already got the recipe part done and in the can.

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MIA Writer Wakes!!!

Oh how I’ve missed you! My pleasant, letter-fading keyboard is smiling at me because it knows I’m about to actually blog! Yes, it’s been a very long time, months in fact and I can’t honestly say why. This seems like something I should seriously explore, and in five brief points, I can probably break it down.

  1. I got an agent. Yes, I know this sounds like a great thing and one of those events that truly ratchets up your life so it sings loud and strong and on key but … nope. Instead, what this bigger-than-big event did to me was something very different. After years of writing and editing and disassembling and re-plotting and rewriting and querying and literally hundreds of rejections before the big YES, I was tossed into a strange abyss. What now? I mean … a huge percentage of my creative time went into writing and redesigning the verbiage for query letters, researching agencies and specific agents and pushing the send button then holding my breath. It seemed that after someone wonderful said, “Yes, I want to offer you representation!” I just forgot to start breathing again. Everything came to a stand-still and if you know me at all … standing still is not my forte.
  2. I took a deep breath, finally. Yes, finally, after realizing it wasn’t a dream and someone wasn’t coming to my door to snap away the contract, I started to breathe again. What to do next was a major dilemma. I always have so many things on the burner, it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t know where to jump … so I stood quietly for a while, thought it all through then started to talk to my wonderful literary agent and new best friend about what I should do now. He had many, many suggestions. We share a common drive and sense of humor, my agent and me, so it was a rather fun conversation I wish I’d have initiated weeks earlier. I guess I was just in shock.
  3. I made my project list. I had a list … well hell, I always have a list. It’s bubbling to capacity with everything from writing/author groups activities, non-fic proposal projects at various stages of completion, the plotting for the next book in my Cold in California series, an all new woman’s fiction I started entitled 36 Full Moons, my online activities – twitter, my own author website, my neglected blog, and weekly updates for my writing website, Whispers of the Muse – and of course, preparing for a Book Business Plan Workshop I’ll be teaching online for SavvyAuthors. I’m currently taste testing recipes for a cookbook series I’m developing and as the resident personal chef for my roommate, I cook everyday. What else? Let’s see … yes, the list was getting scary and I realized it might be best to just ask my agent what he wants me to work on. He answered.
  4. The plan is outlined! An agent is a good guide and mine is the absolute best. He patiently sat and listened then began to make his recommendations, trimming my project list and giving everything a priority we can both live with. He had a good plan that respected the fact that, a) I work best when I’m busy with several projects, and b) that I’m the kinda maniac who needs deadlines for those projects. Thus came the success strategy for the next few months and I finally feel functioning again. I am to finalize the cookbook proposal. I’m to finish plotting the second book in the series he’s representing, as he’d love to have the first 3-5 chapters in his back pocket to wet the publisher’s whistle. He’s very interested in the women’s fiction novel (which makes me very happy since that one seems to be tugging hard at me), and he’s adamant that I keep active with my social marketing.
  5. The implementation. Harder than it sounds but I’m loving every minute of it. Back to blogging, back to twitter. Time to do some redesign and redirection for both blogging and my author website. I’ll be getting FaceBook started soon and focusing clean blocks of time for my fiction and non-fiction projects. Oh … and I’ll probably gain a few pounds while I finalize some of the recipes for the cookbook but hey … I’ll be sending those recipes to my agent who should be gaining a few pounds too, lol.

I don’t honestly know how to explain all this. I’ve always been a bustling, busy kinda gal, as productive as possible in as many venues as I could find but I definitely got lost for a little while there. I’m back … and I’ve never felt more alive and excited!

Time to take flight!