Sunday, August 13, 2006

Writing a proposition

I've sold a few books on proposition, and I remember when I first heard about that I was amazed. You always hear the advice "finish the book before you start to shop it around." But sometimes the idea is so original you're not quite sure if it will interest anyone, and in that case it might be better to approach a publisher with the idea to see if there is any interest. Another reason could be just the opposite -you have a great idea you know will be a hit, and you want to get to work on it as soon as possible, so you shop it around first.
Another reason for writing a propostion can come from an agent, an editor, or a publisher. I had my editor suggest a book, we wrote up a proposition, and it was contracted before it was written by EC. Changeling Press were launching their line and wanted something original, so I proposed an m/m sci-fi romance, and they contracted the series on proposal. Right now my agent has an idea she thinks would be right for me, and she wants me to write a proposal for it.
What is a proposal?
It's a synopsis and about three chapters. It can include a full outline (or not). Some authors are pantsers and couldn't outline to save their lives - but no problem, most publishers and editors have worked with authors of All types and don't ask for outlines very often.
So what am I doing now? Well, I finished the synopsis and I'm writing the first three chapters of the book. I'm writing a rough draft - no worries about making it perfect yet - what my agent is looking for is character developement and mood.
I'm also doing it in first person POV, which is actually my favorite POV to work in, and I'm hoping it will work for this story. I have a little research to do right now - I'm setting the story in an actual town, and I need to get the street names right. Luckily it's a place I've been to many times, so I know more or less how it looks and what the surroundings are like, but I am a perfectionist...and besides, research is another name for procrastination, and we all know that I am the Queen of Procrastination!!


Bonita said...

Can you tell us more about the proposed book? Contemporary, historical, or othertime-place setting. Fantasy or "real-life", etc...
Good luck with this.

Sam said...

Hi Bonita -
It's a contemporary - suspense, and I'm trying to put some humor in it, sort of a Stephanie Plum style - snappy and fun (I hope, lol!)
It's not paranormal at all - my agent wants to see something different and I'm doing my best!

Bonita said...

That sounds delightful. I have read all the Stephanie Plum books and like everything except the fact that Stephanie waffles between Ranger and Morelli. Keep us posted on your progress.

Michelle B said...

Hope the proposal works out! And I totally understand both the perfectionist and procrastination problems since I have the same problems LOL.

Wynn Bexton said...

This and promotion seems to be a current topic on the writer's blogs and actually I am thinking of discussing this with my workshop group this week. I'm going to refer them to your blog and also Scott's for tips on how to go about it.

Daisy Mae said...

I may not be an author but I am pretty sure I wrote the book on procrastination, or at least it feels like I should have and would have if I didn't procrastinate. LOL!

How long does it take for a book to go from the proposal stage to our stores bookshelf usually?

Sam said...

Hi Daisy Mae,
I think on the average it takes two years from proposal to book shelf. It can be longer, and sometimes shorter, but two years is a pretty good estimate.
(Writers learn patience!)

Gabriele C. said...

Hey, the queen of procrastination am I. I always do research worth a PhD thesis before I start writing the book.

There's this novelette I planned (well, I still plan, lol) for PBW's e-book challenge and I really wanted to get at it without research.

Guess what I did right now? Yes, order some books from the library I'll get tomorrow.

Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

It sounds like you have your writing head on straight and that your agent is a good fit, Sam. :-) I’ve always enjoyed doing proposals because writing the synopsis actually helps to flesh out the story in my mind, which makes writing those three chapters easier. I have a better sense of where it’s all going then.

Jona said...

I'm envious! Not so much about what you do, but your obvious enthusiasm and delight when doing it :o)

Daisy Mae said...

Well that's it, I can never be a writer - I have no patience! I hope you don't have to wait 2 years to get paid!