SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

proposal confusion

Discussion started on

Poster
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region illinois
I have a much-revised query letter that I'm finally happy with. But as I prepared to send it and my ms. to my dream agent, I noticed that the directions said to send a proposal with nonfiction. So I read about proposals, studied samples, and wrote one, but it seems so redundant. The query gives an overview, the aim of the book, who it's aimed at, market comparison, and author bio. This is an alphabet-structured book, like F IS FOR FIRE FIGHTER. It doesn't have chapters, and I can't imagine it would be right to outline all 26 topics. It seems silly to repeat the information I gave in the query. I was thinking of just writing a few paragraphs mentioning details I omitted from the query, such as an organization I've consulted that might endorse the book if asked. How much wiggle room is there in a proposal?  :help2
Linda Rae
#1 - March 28, 2016, 09:52 PM

Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region epa
That's what I would do, Linda Rae. A lot of MG-and-up nonfiction is sold on proposal, so the proposal is essential, but you have the whole text to share.

Although yout book is nonfiction, but you could just call it an alphabet-structured picture book and follow the PB rules without running afoul of the rules.

In my notably-rule-averse-but-humble opinion. 
#2 - March 29, 2016, 05:07 AM
Kell Andrews
www.kellandrews.com
Twitter @kellandrewsPA

DEADWOOD, Spencer Hill, 2014
MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE, Sterling, 2016

Dionna

Guest
I agree with Kell. Treat it like it is, a PB, and follow the agent's directions for submitting a PB, being sure to mention it's non-fiction.
#3 - March 29, 2016, 07:25 AM

Poster
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region illinois
Thank you for this suggestion, Kell and Dionna. I should have mentioned before that my book is 6,000 words long and aimed at kids aged 8-12. It has a significant amount of information in it. It seems like a picture book, though, because it's meant to have lots of illustrations. One reason I'm looking for an agent is that it doesn't fit into any category very well.
#4 - March 29, 2016, 12:53 PM

Dionna

Guest
At 6,000 words, it's not a PB. So, yeah, you best not call it that.

It sounds like you have a middle-grade non-fiction project that will be supported by photographs.You are probably low on word count, though, for a MG. Most agents will see your description of a 6,000-word PB, and assume you're not in tune with the industry. Probably the same with a MG at 6,000 words. Can you beef up your chapters, add a few to make it for a MG audience? Can you shorten it for a PB audience?

You might want to try to find titles similar to yours with a similar word count, maybe first reader chapter books of nf, and, if those publishers accept unsolicited mss, send it there????

What's your subject?
#5 - March 29, 2016, 02:30 PM

Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region epa
I can think of other heavily illustrated nonfiction for MGs in that range -- Abrams does a lot. I just pulled Maritcha: A Nineteenth Century American Girl by Tonya Bolden off my shelf, for example. AR Bookfinder has it as grades 4-8, 7170 words.

I was thrown off by the alphabet structure -- maybe best to call it an A to Z Reference? I've seen similar structures for books about superheroes or similar -- Disney and DK books.

But yes, you do need a proposal with info about photo permissions, references, competitive market, your platform. Sorry! I would think some parts could be abbreviated but I'd follow guidelines.
#6 - March 29, 2016, 03:21 PM
Kell Andrews
www.kellandrews.com
Twitter @kellandrewsPA

DEADWOOD, Spencer Hill, 2014
MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE, Sterling, 2016

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region florida
Linda Rae, maybe cut back on the info in your query and use the bulk of what's in the query in the proposal? Just a thought...
#7 - March 29, 2016, 03:48 PM
ALIENS GET THE SNIFFLES TOO! Candlewick, 2017
LOUD LULA, Two Lions 2015
CALIFORNIA HISTORY FOR KIDS, CRP
FARMER MCPEEPERS Rising Moon

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region ohionorth
Linda Rae, I recently sent out a query letter for MG nonfiction in which I indicated that I had a proposal ready. There was definitely a lot of overlap; the short description of my project in the query letter essentially got repeated in the proposal. But there was a heck of a lot more in the proposal, and of course the two needed to stand alone. Have you taken a look at books such as ANATOMY OF NONFICTION? Also, if you haven't already, you might look for sample NF proposals online; I found lots of good examples to help me out, including on agents' websites.
#8 - March 29, 2016, 07:27 PM

Poster
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region illinois
Thank you, rab, for the information that there is of course overlap between the proposal and query and that each should stand on its own. I had looked up proposal samples, but looked again and found this one: http://jcpublishers.net/yhef.pdf       It's very detailed. I had an ah-ha moment and realized that the proposal is an OUTLINE.   :typing
#9 - March 30, 2016, 12:50 PM

The query letter is an enticement to read more. A nonfiction proposal is very detailed--even for MG!
The proposal should include:
 
-A table of contents

-An overview of the topic in general and why this book is needed.  Think of the blurbs on the back or inside flaps of books.

-A discussion of your overall approach and why/how this addresses the pressing need you've identified

-A discussion of the market:  Who would buy this book?  Numbers are good here, if you have them. 

-A discussion of the competition.  Look up on Amazon.com to find similar books published in the past five years or so.  Don't say "There is nothing like this!" Publishers need comparables to decide whether your book will sell.  Be polite discussing other books.  Acknowledge their strengths, but also mention the weaknesses that make them less useful than your book.  Depending on how many comparable books you find, you can make a big list, several lists of different types of books, or a short paragraph description of each book.  You may want to include approximate amazon.com sales ranks for each book.  You'll definitely want to open with a general discussion, saying something like, "There are 10 books that have been published on this topic in the past five years.  All of them XX.  Some of them XX, but none of the offer the XX, XX, and XX that the proposed book does."  You'll also want a closing statement, along the lines of "In summary, XX is a topic that has garnered considerable interest, but, to date, no book has XX.  The proposed book improves upon previous books by XX, XX, & XX."

-A discussion of your qualifications as an author.

-A discussion of the marketing plan.  What can you do to help sell this book? Start by saying that "The author will work enthusiastically to promote this book."  Then get specific.  Do you give a lot of talks?  Do you have a lot of patients or students you can require to buy the book?  Do you have access to mailing lists?  Will you write articles on this topic?  Do you attend big events where you could sell the book? 

-A brief list of the proposed chapters (if you have them).

-An annotated list of the proposed chapters (if you have them).  This means write a paragraph about what you will cover in each chapter. Your description should be interesting enough to make the editor want to read more.  You might write something like "One of the biggest problems facing XX, is XX.  This chapter presents practical, yet often overlooked strategies for XX."

Some excellent books on proposals are:
Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody can Write (Revised and Updated) 
   by Elizabeth Lyon
Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why, 2nd Edition 
   by Jeff Herman and Deborah Levine Herman
How to Write a Book Proposal
   by Michael Larsen
#10 - April 04, 2016, 07:17 PM
Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD
author/psychologist
www.EileenKennedyMoore.com
www.GrowingFriendshipsBlog.com *For parents
www.DrFriendtastic.com *FOR KIDS!

Dionna

Guest
Hi Iyerani,

You may want to delete your reply here, and post your question as your very own topic!

Bestest!
#11 - April 09, 2016, 05:42 PM

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.