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The Proposal

The Proposal
 

No, I haven’t posted the wrong post on the wrong blog. I’m not talking about a wedding proposal which I often feature on my real life romance blog. I’m talking about a book proposal.

The ACFW conference is an awesome experience. If you’ve never been, you’re in for a treat. The friends, the fellowship, the food. There are  hundreds of Christian writers with the same dream as you, but there’s no competitiveness. There are hundreds of prolific authors mixed in and no one is snooty or intimidating.

Everyone is friendly and supportive. Squeals echo through the lobby as writers recognize each other after becoming friends online or become reacquainted after meeting last year. Hugs are everywhere. It’s fun, informative, and overwhelming.

But the main reason we’re there, other than learning our craft is to market ourselves and our books.

We’ve covered the one sheet. During your meetings, if you spark the agent or editor’s interest with your one sheet, they’ll likely request a proposal and three chapters. You’ll feel much more confident going into your meeting if you already have the proposal ready. You may even take a copy to the meeting and the agent or editor might wish to look over it.

I attended a class on proposals taught by Randall Ingermanson at ACFW–I think in 2006. He shared his and co-author John B. Olson’s proposal which sold their book to agent Steve Laube and eventually to Bethany House. Steve Laube kept it on his website for several years as an example of the best proposal he’d ever seen and Randy still keeps it on his website for writers.

I’ve modeled all my proposals after Randy and John’s to the best of my ability and still use the pattern today.  Here’s my Proposal Example. This is an old proposal. One thing I should have done was add more similar books. I obviously got tired of looking and it shows. You should include at least 3 and up to 5 similar books.

I didn’t include the synopsis which is part of the proposal in the example because it gives away the entire plot of my book. My synopses are usually 3 pages at the most. Feel free to print my example as a pattern.

Here’s the link to Randy and John’s proposal including only part of the synopsis:  http://www.rsingermanson.com/assets/pdf/O2Proposal.pdf.

A good rule of thumb for synopsis length: 1 page per 10,000 words. So a 50,000 word book could be 5 pages. A 100,000 word book could be up to 10 pages. But the shorter, the better.

Tip: Hit the high points of the book that reveal new information, character, or plot development like you’re telling a friend what your book is about.

Do you have your proposal ready for your next conference? If not, happy proposing.

  1. Sheila Covey06-14-11

    Thanks Shannon! I’m going to look into this–you always give us such good advice!

  2. Shannon Vannatter06-17-11

    Hey Sheila,
    Just trying to keep first timers from being shell-shocked.

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