Pyramid Book Proposals: Part II

Last post we talked about the part of the book proposal which agents.editors see first. Your book needs a great title, a log line or hook that entices and a brief summary of 150 or so words to further tempt your reader.

Writing Tip for Today: In this section we’ll look at the middle of the pyramid: Author Platform, Author Marketing Plan and Complementary Books.This section in your proposal is meant to hold up the tip of the pyramid and lead readers to see exactly how valuable you and your book will be.

Author Platform.

The dreaded “P” word. You started yesterday, right? You are on social media, tweeting and FB posting away. You joined Goodreads and write a blog. You’re working on a nice website. Isn’t that enough? Only if two things are true: 1) you actually DO these things regularly and 2) you understand that you’re building relationships, not just talking about yourself/your writing. What else can you do? Cultivate more relationships by volunteering at your writer’s organization (you’ll get to know the movers & shakers faster this way), offering to give a short presentation at your library, church or other organization (more networking), being brave enough to say you’re a writer in the checkout lane or other public places. Join organizations/discussion boards/online support groups that are concerned with the kinds of topics in your book. There are many more ways to start building that platform, including simple things such as getting professional head shot done, ordering business cards or working on branding yourself, complete with a catchy description. And don’t forget to read widely.

Author Marketing.

This section seems like the Platform section but it isn’t. This section is where you’ll state your case, not for the things you’re already doing or have done to get your name out there, but what you are planning or willing to do to help promote your book should it be published. If you are regularly publishing short articles in periodicals, mention it. If you are comfortable or have experience with media–whether it’s radio, TV or you have a degree in marketing, absolutely mention it. DO NOT include in your proposal that you’ll arrange for book signings. Although it sounds romantic, a book signing is becoming a thing of the past for all but famous authors. Agents/editors will assume you’ll do a signing, anyway. Get creative. Think of an event you could get invited to, an established product or angle you might use to leverage your book. Plan a contest, giveaway or other way to involve your readers. Many author hold online launch parties where prizes are given away at certain times.

Complementary Books.

This section often feels tedious, but it’s very important. You must convince readers that 1) you know the genre and market where your book fits 2) you read extensively and 3) you are aware of how your book compares with others on the same shelf. When you do this section, it’s important to do more than just list several books. Go deeper. Explain that your book is similar to book X in these ways or similar in these other ways. A line or two for each comparison is usually plenty. And don’t forget to compare fairly RECENT books in most cases. Readers are different than they were in Dickens’ time, although it does seem you can’t keep the Jane Austen fans in their own time period. A list of 3-7 books is usually sufficient.

Next time: Part III of the Proposal Pyramid: the solid base.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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