One of the topics at last Saturday’s Missouri SCBWI workshop was the book proposal. I have to admit that although I know what goes into a proposal, I’ve never written one. The purpose of a proposal is to get a contract, and quite possibly an advance, without having to write the entire book first. The proposal gives the editor a feel for your writing, your take on the subject and the market for this particular topic. The parts of a proposal are:
- Your Title
- A Book Description: What is it about and why will kids love it? Include estimated length of the finished book.
- Audience: Age, gender, interests.
- Outline: Chapters, chapter sections and sidebars as well as special features of any kind.
- Competition: What is already on the market? How is your book unique and why will people buy it instead of the other guy’s book?
- Estimated time to finish writing the book.
- Promotion. What are you willing to do to promote the published book.
- Writing Sample. A chapter or two of the book.
In addition to getting a contract before you finish the book, a proposal also allows the publisher to request changes. Whether they want you to make it longer or shorter or change the reading level, changes are often easier to make before the book is done.
I think this might be the way to go with the NASA book. It will let us get it on the market in a matter of weeks vs months and whichever publisher snatches it up will have the chance to make their mark on it before we take it to the point that it is submission ready. That is sounding better and better all the time.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a second chapter to draft.