BOOK PROPOSALSComplications Ensue
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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Lisa's hard at work on a book proposal for a second book, neatly allied to her first. I won't tell you what her great idea is, but I think it could do at least as well as I think her first will, and I'm a great believer in her first, The Intrepid Collector, about how to buy art on a budget.

A book proposal is how you get paid to write a book instead of having to sell publishers a finished book. Your basic book proposal is
  • A page or two of hype -- your book in a nutshell
  • Competition Analysis: what are the other books mining this vein, and why do you think your book fills a gap
  • Marketing Plan: how do you propose to publicize your own book. Publishers don't want to do all the work. Will you be teaching seminars? Do you have friends with radio shows? How many people read your blog? (Lisa's new blog is How to Buy Art. You can ask her questions, and she'll answer them.)
  • Outline: basically the projected table of contents for your book
  • Sample Chapter: maybe twenty, thirty pages of actual text, just to show that you can actually write. I didn't include a sample chapter for Crafty TV Writing, but it was my second book.
The whole thing is on the order of thirty to forty pages. Which is a lot, but a lot less than a two hundred page manuscript. Especially if it turns out that publishers don't want the thing!

Writing books is not a terribly lucrative business. Figure you get about a buck a book in royalties, and figure it takes you about six months to write a good nonfiction book about something you already know. (Shorter if you're writing only what you already know; longer if you have to do serious research.) Now how many copies do you have to sell to make it worth your while?

Where writing a book is really useful is where there are possibly synergies, or where the book is a credential. I wrote Crafty Screenwriting for fun, and to give something back (I wish I'd been able to read it when I was learning how to write!), and to crystallize my own thinking. But now that it's out there I keep running into people in the biz who've read it; that compensates a bit for living off in Montreal, which is not the hottest of showbiz hotspots. And, when you're writing a book, you can interview people you'd just like to meet.

I think Lisa will be able to do far more with her book. If she can make it into a hit -- and I can't think of anyone who likes having art around who wouldn't want to buy it -- it could become a cottage industry for her. People who buy a lot of art, for example, might want to hire her as a consultant. Already with the blog she's starting to meet Montreal artists who would never have known of her before; and the book's not out till Fall.

I find bookstores daunting: not only all the books I don't have time to read, but now, the notion that my book is one of hundreds of thousands of books on the shelves -- or of millions at Amazon. It just gives you a sense how vast human knowledge is. But I'm pretty pleased with my first book, and I'm really excited about the new books. Can't wait to see what comes back to us out of them.

UPDATE: Find Lisa's book on sale at Barnes & Noble.



I hate writing book proposals with a purple passion. But I can write good ones. Wish Lisa good luck on her proposal.

By Blogger Lawrence, at 9:05 PM  

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