By Jill Williamson
Everyone is different. Not all writers like to get organized before they start to write. But after I published a few books and got an agent, I learned that authors with a few traditionally published books out there don't necessarily have to keep writing full novels to sell them. Once you've proven yourself, you can sell a fiction book off a proposal. I did this this past year with my upcoming book Captives.
But there are other reasons why it's smart to write a little book proposal before starting a new book. Here are ten reasons why:
1. You’ll know your story.
Your three-act structure will be sound. You'll have brainstormed a beginning, middle, and end that makes sense. And writing a synopsis will have forced you to create the overall plot and ending.
2. You’ll know your characters
Your main characters will already have solid goals, and you’ll know how your characters will change or grow through the story.
3. You’ll know your theme
Though this may change once you do write the book and your story gets a life of its own.
4. You’ll know your audience
5. You’ll know your competition
You’ll know which titles are similar to yours, how to make your book different, and how your book will stand out from your competition. This is very important in convincing a publisher why they should publish your book.
6. You can get it done quickly
It takes much less time to write a book proposal than it takes to write the full novel. And, for the future when you have an agent, writing a proposal first will give your agent something to shop while you start writing, and it may even give an editor a chance to give you feedback up front.
But do keep in mind, if you're unpublished in fiction, you MUST finish the novel before selling it. Selling a novel from a proposal is a privileged you earn over time.
7. You’ll be ready to market
You will have laid out some of your marketing plans, listed public relations and media contacts, and you'll also have the back cover blurb ready to tell people.
8. You’ll be ready to write
You'll already have one to three sample chapters written, so you'll have a head start on the book and will be ready to keep writing.
9. You may get paid before you write the book
For when you've published a few books and this book should sell from your proposal, most publishers pay half the advance when the contract is signed, so you might have some money coming to you before you even finish the story.
10. It is good practice
Writing fiction book proposals will help you learn to fine tune your ideas into high concept ones, put your ideas into a format that will help them sell, and will train you for working with an agent to sell books off proposals in the future.
Something to think about.
But what does a proposal look like? I got permission from my agent to post the book proposal I wrote for Captives that sold to Zonderkidz and will come out February 2013. I cut off my synopsis so I wouldn't give away the story. But a synopsis would tell the entire story, including the ending.
Click here to view the proposal for Captives.
What do you think? Every written a book proposal? Have any questions about the Captives proposal?