On Wednesdays I like to share what I learned, what worked and what didn’t work for me when it comes to writing, publishing and marketing along my journey to publication for the first time and as I prepare to be published for the second time.
I was always more a sit down and write kind of writer until I started writing books and taking on freelance work. I found myself procrastinating and easily distracted by new and shinier things that came across my laptop screen.
If I wanted to do this book writing thing full time I needed to get organized and get writing.
I now start with an outline for whatever I may be writing. A blog post, article, a book or a ghostwriting project all start with an outline.
Once I have a simple outline, I start working on the proposal. I do NOT like writing proposals. That is, until they are done. Once they are done I feel like my book could write itself. Trust me you will thank me later.
If you are writing or planning to write nonfiction you will need a very, very good proposal to send to agents and or publishers. If you are writing fiction you should at least have an okay proposal, for yourself. It will help you stay focused.
The first rule of proposal writing is to take your time and get it right. The second rule is it should be written before you write the book. I know, bad news but again you will thank once it’s done.
* You will first need a one page cover letter. Think business, resume etc…
* Next you will need an overview. It should answer these questions: What is your book about (think about what will be on the back cover of the book), who will care about this book, who are you and what credentials do you have that make you the best person to tell this story? No more than two pages.
* Table of contents. You may have to finish this once the proposal is finished but this is the place for it.
* Target Market: Who will buy this book and why. Do not say everyone. Pick one demographic and then one or two sub-demographics. Do not use statistics that are not specific.
*Chapter Outline: The title of each chapter and a paragraph on what each chapter is about. Take your time and try to come up with paragraphs that tell a condensed version of your book. A beginning, middle and an end. If you are worried someone will steal your idea, don’t.
* Competition: Pick three or four books that will be direct competition. Competition in the book business is a good thing. It means people are reading what you are writing. (think vampires) Do careful research here and explain why your book is different and will stand out from the competition.
*Author bio and platform: Your bio should only pertain to what you are writing and your experience. Leave personal information out. It should be short and sweet. More on platform’s next week. It basically means who you know, organizations you belong to and your online reach.
*Marketing Plan: You must convince an agent and or a publisher that you can bring the audience for this book not the other way around. Do not write what you hope to do but specifically what you can and will do. Be confident, realistic and firm. Use real numbers. Cleary define your market. List your accurate online stats for all of your sites. Do not just list followers, list your Google analytics. List your offline following, organizations or groups you belong to and any media contacts you have. Don’t get depressed you can do this. Get out and meet people in real life. Read and leave comments on many other blogs to increase your own comments and stats.
*Last but not least, in fact extremely important, add two of your meatiest chapters.
Now sit down and write that memoir, novel, instructional, health or whatever story you were born to tell!