Confessions of a New Author: What’s a Book Proposal?

bekah Writing 6 Comments

Chalk it up to being an idealist. If you wanna write a book, you just write one, right? A publisher reads it. Falls in love simultaneously with you, and every written word from your blessed hand, offers a book contract, sends it to print, and behold, Barnes & Noble. Ya?

I’m laughing in my tea admitting such silly notions.

Like many new moms, I started a blog to remember moments. When he cooed and pooped, how my identity shifted and faith rattled around and bounced off of real life. An innocent way to document our kid’s life. You know, maybe one day I’ll get fancy and print it off and have Auntie Becky make it into a scrapbook and send it off to college with you to hide in the bottom drawer as you laugh at ‘yo crazy mom.’

About five years ago I wrote a story, pushed Publish, and something inside came alive. Random people threw out humbly kind compliments, ‘You should write a book,’ which I didn’t know what to do with so I laughed. But the more I wrote, the more I felt ME. The version of me that only shines when words flow from inside.

Very green, I attended a Writer’s Conference in Austin, TX, where I drank from a fire-hose, met incredible authors, fellow aspiring authors and left with a fire lit under my booty to “find my voice,” “build my platform,” and other writing jargon that both scared and pushed me to pursue this calling. The following summer I attended SheSpeaks with a book proposal in hand. One I’d worked on for months, where I cozied in my office and Bryan brought plates, forced me to “eat” then shut the door and smiled, as only a man who loves and believes in me can. I owe so much to his unwavering cheering and support in this dream. I’ve quit doing this precisely 7 billion times and he’s been there to push me back in and say, “Nope. Write.” Dang, you Bry. You are just what this soul needs.

So what’s a book proposal? many of you have asked. Great question.

Nothing big. Just your soul birthed on paper in the form of a 50-70 page outline detailing the book’s premise, platform, overview, chapter outlines, marketing plan, sample chapters, and maybe some chocolate smeared on the back page. A book skeleton waiting to be evaluated, perhaps not even opened, dismissed, whatever a publisher’s mood dictates at the moment upon reading the book proposal. It’s like a dissertation in a writer’s world. It can be painful and exhilarating to write, and scary as beans to carry around at a conference praying it lands in a publisher’s hands, one who sees the potential and is a a mutual fit to sign for publication.

I’ve written the same book proposal a dozen times over. Edit. Refocus. Creative angle. My book title has changed 9 times, along with the introduction, the marketing plan, the introduction chapter – all tweaked and honed tighter. I’ve prayed on it, pondered it, let it percolate and then gone back at it with fresh eyes for the last year and a half. Working on one paper for 1 1/2 years almost killed me. It’s also the project I’m most proud of.

When I pitched my first book proposal, I knew nothing about sticky words, about creating a title that people resonate with, connected to, or “stuck” in their memory. When it came to taglines, I was green as green comes. Like, what’s a tagline?

So for those of you, who like I did, ask, What’s a book proposal? there you have it.

And I have precisely 4 1/2 more months to put meat on its bones to meet the writing deadline.

Comments 6

  1. You are so brave pursuing your dream and leaning into all it entails- the good and the crazy hard parts. Proud of you and love journeying this with you dear friend. Cannot wait to buy and read your book!! Praying for you in the next 4.5 months.

  2. I was ready to jump onto Amazon last night and order it! I guess you have to write it first. You have such a refreshing voice I can’t wait for the world of books to be gifted with your words.
    Press on friend.

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