Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Anatomy of a Book Proposal


I've started working seriously—well, not that seriously, but I'm picking at it—on my book proposal for CURSE OF THE HIPPO.

Book proposal writing is no fun. My last one took months and was over 40 pages long. But I'm better at it now and I already know how to write one, so it's going faster this time.

Here's the basic structure of a non-fiction book proposal:

TITLE PAGE
SUMMARY
THE AUTHOR
MARKETING SECTION
COMPETITION/SIMILAR BOOKS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER BREAKDOWN
SAMPLE CHAPTERS

You can rearrange the elements a bit but don't stray too far from the basic setup.

I was tinkering with the MARKETING AND PROMOTIONS section last night. That's where you explain why your book is needed, why people will buy it, how it can be pitched, and how it could be successfully promoted.

And I realized I was a bit short on gimmicks this time 'round. Last time, I pulled out all the stops. Solo woman circumnavigates the world live on the internet. I threw in the Ethiopian truck accident, being harassed on the Trans-Mongolian Railway, and being shaken down by the Uzbekistan police in the Tashkent subway for extra credit. Okay, I didn't plan that stuff but it helped.

But this time there is no quest, no manufactured excuse for travel. No "Because it's there." Nothing trite that I can glibly trot out and state was my mission, no pogo stick up Mt. Fuji for me, as I first fled my own demons from Namibia to Cape Town to Uganda, then took shelter in comic books in Kuwait, and finally went to Cairo for no particular reason aside from the head office asked nicely.

And I ended up starting the marketing section with this. Which will do nicely.

    Since the dawn of time, men and women have traveled the world for fame, fortune, and to satisfy their curiosity. People also travel for other, less conventional, but no less compelling reasons: a fascination with a person or place, to settle a bet, and for what can only be called whimsy.

    -Library Journal 12/15/06

And then there are those who travel out of desperation, taking jobs in the Arabian Gulf once the money, love, and biological clock has run out.

1 comment:

sue said...

Funny! And as someone who has read a lot of travel books, it's way more compelling than say, a tale of trying to find yourself (insert big yawn) on a spiritual journey.