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nonfiction proposals

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Hello wonderful writers of the world--well, make that wonderful writers of SCBWI,
I wrote my nonfiction ms after learning the craft of writing, but before learning much about the publishing world. I suspect if it had been the other way around, I could easily have become discouraged from even starting. But now, with a lot of effort already put in, I can be much more tenacious.

The book is meant to be informative and entertaining, but not scholarly. Do I still need a proposal to submit to publishers or agents? Any pointers to sources for doing it right would also be appreciated.

Thanks much
Spence
#1 - November 19, 2015, 08:01 AM

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Hey Spence,

Is your manuscript a PB, MG, or YA?
#2 - November 19, 2015, 09:51 AM
PRUDENCE, THE PART-TIME COW, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, IT'S YOUR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, BUSY BUS!, THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLED
Twitter @jodywrites4kids

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Hi Jody,
Thanks for replying. The book will be YA (older teens, I think).


Spence
#3 - November 19, 2015, 11:00 AM

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A YA book typically needs a proposal according to publisher guidelines (usually outline, sample chapters, why you are the best person to write the book, etc.)

Here's a thread with links: https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=75832.msg939823;topicseen

Good luck, Vijaya

Spence: would you like me to move this to the nonfiction area. This area is restricted only to SCBWI members.
#4 - November 19, 2015, 12:51 PM
« Last Edit: November 19, 2015, 12:54 PM by Vijaya »
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 40 books and 60 magazine pieces

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Hi Vijaya,
Thanks much for the link and please move the post if you think the nonfiction area is a better home. I'm still learning to use the Blueboard.
#5 - November 19, 2015, 01:22 PM

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Vijaya,
The link leads to page not found (404 error). I could only find that a proposal was needed, in the submissions guidelines, but no how-to advice.
#6 - November 19, 2015, 01:34 PM

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I'll find the link, Spence and move this thread over to NF. We have a lot of non-SCBWI members who have a wealth of info.

Full Circle Lit has removed their link.

But here are a couple of other sources:
http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-8-essential-elements-of-a-nonfiction-book-proposal  general
http://www.hartlineliterary.com/nonfiction_proposal.html  from an agency
http://www.dystel.com/nonfiction-proposal-guidelines/  another agency

You can see the differences. I highly recommend the Michael Larsen book on writing proposals and then tailor yours according to the guidelines published by the agency or publisher.

Good luck!
Vijaya
#7 - November 19, 2015, 01:44 PM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 40 books and 60 magazine pieces

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Another resource I found helpful was Margery Facklam and Peggy Thomas, ANATOMY OF NONFICTION: WRITING TRUE STORIES FOR CHILDREN, which includes a sample proposal.
#8 - November 19, 2015, 06:33 PM

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Thank you, Rebecca. BTW my ms has a medieval-themed tale, about the supernova of a massive star, in terms of a future clash between the unceasing King Gravity and the defiant Sir Antares (actually a bright star in the constellation Scorpius).
#9 - November 19, 2015, 08:36 PM

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And as it happens, Rebecca is a medieval lit expert. Hey, Rebecca, I inherited a bunch of books from a prof. of medieval lit and found this treasure: The Life and Times of Margery Kempe!!!!

Sorry to hijack, Spence. Carry on.
Vijaya
#10 - November 20, 2015, 06:38 AM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
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Vijaya, you are in luck---that Margery is one wild woman! (Annoying as all get out, but wild).

Okay, back to Spence!
#11 - November 20, 2015, 09:37 AM

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Hey guys, I have nothing new to add right now, just thanks again. I'm going to check out the suggested links and books.
#12 - November 20, 2015, 09:55 AM

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After reading Michael Larson's How to Write a Book Proposal, I wrote one for my completed YA nonfiction ms. It has these headings:

Overview      
Manuscript critiques   
Outline   
Competing books   
Markets   
Author platform
Promotion   
About the author   
More on structure and content   
Sample chapter

What should be in the query that's not in the proposal?

Thanks,
Spence
#13 - December 28, 2015, 10:26 AM

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The query is a one page letter that pitches your book (and you) in broad strokes, versus a more complex and detailed book proposal.

Here are a few good resources, starting with the brilliant Query Shark. Her site is filled with excellent examples, too.

http://queryshark.blogspot.com/

http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/03/query-letter-mad-lib.html

Once you have written your query, you can post it here in the Queries and Critiques thread for feedback.
 :)
#14 - December 28, 2015, 01:56 PM

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Thank you, Sharon. After I study your recommendations and write my query, I'll post if for feedback.

Spence
#15 - December 28, 2015, 04:53 PM

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I thought that better understanding the reasons for a nonfiction book proposal would help me write a better one. I can find plenty on the what's, how's, and when's of nonfiction book proposals, but not the why's. That includes searchings of my three e-books on writing proposals.

Other than a need to show subject matter expertise, I can't see why all the other elements of a nonfiction book proposal would not apply as well to fiction. Do publishers analyze markets, target, promote, and sell fiction, but expect nonfiction authors to handle those?

I also don't understand the need for a social media presence. My book would be independent of me.
#16 - January 30, 2016, 05:10 PM

Dionna

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I can only imagine the why. Perhaps it's because they are buying an unwritten product and so we must give them a better reason to buy into the viability of the product???? If you have a publisher picked out for your project, I would  just give them what they ask for and try not to worry about the why. Best wishes with it. :dogwalk
#17 - January 30, 2016, 06:28 PM

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