You have to jump through many hoops in order to get a book published. Although book sales are high, they are not high enough to keep publishers from taking on new authors – unless you happen to be a celebrity. You may be able to get a publisher’s attention if you first self-publish a book. But if you’ve never published a book before, forget it.
Depressing thought, isn’t it? But this is the central message of literary agent and author Michael Larson’s How to Write a Book Proposal, 3rd Edition; (Writer’s Digest Books; 2003.) Despite the title, this book is not for the unpublished writer. This book is aimed primarily for already published authors, as well as celebrities and individuals who are considered stand outs in their fields.
Get Self-Published … Or Else
Throughout the book, Larson gives many examples of clients that were able to submit their already self-published books to traditional “we’ll-pay-you” publishers. For first time writers, getting self-published is critical. But you still can’t write that book proposal. You have to wait at least a year to see how it sells. Then you can think about maybe perhaps writing the very first draft of your book proposal.
Ouch. This is not the message that an unpublished writer wants to hear. Oddly enough, these same people probably make up the main core of buyers for How to Write a Book Proposal. Perhaps the title was accurate during the book’s first edition, but it’s completely misleading now. A better title would be, Getting Your Manuscript Accepted: Don’t Even Think About It!
Prepare to Lose Lots of Money
Although this edition came out in 2003, the state of traditional publishing has gotten worse. Traditional publishers will not bother sending authors out on book tours, making up print ads or doing any of the usual promotional activities that they used to. Publishing houses now expect all authors (unpublished or not) to do their own promotion. According to Larson, the most important part of a book proposal is a plan of how you are going to promote it.
Let’s back up to getting a manuscript self-published. Even by using print on demand (POD) services instead of a one-time fixed number run, the first-time author can still expect to fork out at least $10,000. This not only includes the self-publishing service, but your promotion of the book.
Ultimately, How to Write a Book Proposal will make an unpublished author want to slit his or her wrists. But if you already have a book published or are a celebrity or bonked a celebrity, then this book may of some help.