7 Days to Easy-Money: Get Paid to Write a Book by Matt Poc - HTML preview

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

(Write A Non-Fiction Book Proposal And Sell It)....................................................1
....................................................................................................................................1
(Write A Non-Fiction Book Proposal And Sell It)....................................................2
TABLE OF CONTENTS...........................................................................................3
Introduction....................................................................................................................5
Sell your book the easy way --- sell a proposal..........................................................5
You and your publisher: a partnership.......................................................................6
Why write a proposal first?........................................................................................7
How do you write a book proposal?...........................................................................7
How to use this ebook................................................................................................8
Day One: What’s a book proposal? Get an idea for your book ..................................10
Day One Tasks.........................................................................................................10
What’s a book proposal?..........................................................................................11
Got an idea for your book? Great!............................................................................12
Start here to develop an idea for your next book.....................................................12
Checklist: Is this the right idea for you TODAY?....................................................15
Day Two: Develop your idea and assess the market....................................................17
Day Two Tasks.........................................................................................................17
Dispelling myths and a word about confidence.......................................................17
Today we'll develop your idea and assess the market..............................................19
Simple steps in developing your idea.......................................................................19
Assess the market for your book..............................................................................21
Write a report on your discoveries...........................................................................22
Day Three: Write the blurb and outline your book......................................................23
Day Three Tasks.......................................................................................................23
Writing the blurb......................................................................................................23
Outlining your book.................................................................................................28
Day Four: Research your book proposal, and flesh out your book's outline...............30
Day Four Tasks........................................................................................................30
Research: How much do you need to know?...........................................................30
Work on your book's outline and the first chapter, as you research.........................32
Will you need graphics or photographs?..................................................................36
Day Five: Write your proposal query letter, and submit it to agents and publishers...37
Day Five Tasks.........................................................................................................37
Today you write your proposal query letter.............................................................37
Do you need an agent?.............................................................................................38
Sending your query letter directly to publishers......................................................39
Yes, you can multiple-submit your query letter, and even your proposal................40
Sample Query Letter................................................................................................41
Another sample query letter.....................................................................................43
Write your query letter!............................................................................................45
Day Six: Write the proposal.........................................................................................48
Day Six Task............................................................................................................48
Relax! You'll write your draft in stages...................................................................48
Let's write the proposal............................................................................................50
Day Seven: Write the sample chapter and revise your proposal .................................57
Day Seven Tasks......................................................................................................57
Today you write your sample chapter......................................................................58
Revising your proposal.............................................................................................60
You're done!.................................................................................................................61
Resource: Sample Book Proposal................................................................................62
Overview......................................................................................................................63
Writers need this book..............................................................................................64
The book's structure.................................................................................................65
Angela Booth's Background.....................................................................................66
Competition..............................................................................................................68
Who will buy 7 Days To Easy Money: Copywriting Success and why?.................70
My promotions plan for 7 Days To Easy Money: Copywriting Success ................71
Chapter Outline............................................................................................................73
How to get the most out of this book.......................................................................73
Week One: Start Your New Business In Just Seven Days!.....................................73
Introduction & Day One: Getting Started................................................................73
Day Two: your portfolio, prospecting and marketing..............................................73
Day Three: Writing Longer Copy ...........................................................................74
Day Four: Public Relations Copywriting.................................................................75
Day Five: Specialist Copywriting............................................................................75
Day Six: Focus on Marketing...................................................................................76
Day Seven: Copywriting for performance ..............................................................76
Week Two: Your copywriting services marketing plan and more...........................77
Week Three: Copywriting for the Internet ..............................................................77
Week Four: Writing bios (biographies) and creating your own media kit...............77
Sample Chapters: Introduction and Day One...........................................................79
Introduction..............................................................................................................79
Day One: Getting Started.............................................................................................82
Your Day One Objectives........................................................................................82
The brief, and your Writing Services Agreement....................................................82
Writing copy step by step.........................................................................................85
Copywriter's How –To: Five Easy Tips To Write A Perfect, Selling Ad................88
Day One Exercises...................................................................................................90

Introduction

Sell your book the easy way --- sell a proposal

You can get paid to write a book. It's easily possible to make a fast $10,000, or even a six figure amount. You could even make seven figures --- over a million dollars for twenty pages of text. It sounds incredible, but a fast seven figures is certainly possible if you have a HOT, hot idea or have had an experience that hundreds of thousands of people want to read about. In his 2001 book about writing non-fiction, Damn! Why Didn't I Write That?, author Marc McCutcheon says that it's not hard to make a good income: "you can learn the trade and begin making a respectable income much faster than most people think possible".

The good part is that you don't need to write your book before you get some money. You write a proposal, and a publisher will give you an advance, which you can live on while you write the book.

Writing a proposal is the smart way to write a book. It's the way professional writers sell non-fiction. Selling a book on a proposal is much easier than selling a book that you've already written. A book proposal is a complete description of your book. It contains the title, an explanation of what the book's about, an outline of chapters, a market and competition survey, and a sample chapter.

A book proposal functions in the same way as any business proposal does: you're making an offer to someone you hope to do business with. It will be treated by publishers in the same way that any business treats a proposal. A publisher will read your proposal, assess its feasibility, cost it, and if it looks as if the publisher will make money, the publisher will pay you to write the book. When you've sold your proposed book to a publisher, your role doesn’t end with writing your book. You’re in partnership with your publisher to ensure the book's success. If you do your part, both you and your publisher will make money.

You and your publisher: a partnership

The publisher's business is selling books. The company acquires books which it hopes will sell, and sell well. Your publisher is putting up the money to publish your book, so you need to approach the project from his point of view as well as your own.

We haven’t got the space to go into great detail about the publishing business here, but you need to know about "returns", because the challenge of returns makes publishing different from other businesses. Publishers sell books on consignment. Publishers ship books to bookshops, and if a book isn’t sold within a certain time period, it's destroyed. The bookseller strips the cover from the book and sends the cover to the publisher for a full credit. This is the "return". If a title doesn’t sell, the publisher takes a beating. As you can imagine, publishers are no more keen to lose money than you or I.

What does this mean to you as you write your book proposal? It means that your proposal needs to emphasize the ways in which you, as the writer, will take responsibility for the book's success.

You will try to ensure the success of your book by gauging the marketplace. You will work out who the likely buyers of your book might be, and the reasons they will have for paying good money for your book. You'll assess the competition for your book. You'll work out ways in which you can promote your book, so that people hear about it. You're in partnership with your publisher, and if you're prepared to take responsibility for that role, the publisher will be much more likely to buy your proposal.

Why write a proposal first?

 

All non-fiction books are sold on proposal. A book proposal is much easier to sell than a complete book.

Here are some of the reasons:
• It's easier to read a 20 or 30 page proposal than a 400 page book;
• It's easier to make changes in the book's concept at the proposal stage;
• With a proposal, the publisher, in the person of your editor, can take

ownership of the book. It's like bespoke tailoring: the editor feels that the book has been specifically written for the publishing house.

Even if you decide to write your book first, you'll need to create a proposal once you've written it. No agent or publisher is interested in reading an entire book to assess its viability. That's the proposal's job: to ensure that your book has a niche in the marketplace. As you do your research for the proposal, you'll work out whether or not your book is likely to sell. You can shape the book at the proposal stage, much more easily than you can when it’s a huge stack of print or a giant computer file.

Sometimes you may get an idea for a book, but the idea is amorphous, it doesn’t have a real shape. You may want to write several thousand words to see whether the book becomes clearer in your mind. But write the proposal before you write more than ten thousand words, because your book must target a specific group of buyers.

How do you write a book proposal?

You write a proposal step by step. In this ebook, we'll work on your book proposal together. Each chapter has tasks for you to complete. Once you've completed all the tasks, you'll have a book proposal which has an excellent chance of selling.

Here's what we'll cover:

 

• (Day One) Getting an idea for your book.

 

• (Day Two) Developing the idea and expanding on it. Assessing the market.

Who needs this book? What's the competition for the book?
• (Day Three) Writing the blurb. Outlining your book.
• (Day Four) Researching your book proposal, and fleshing out your outline.
• (Day Five) Writing a proposal query letter. Sending your query letters to

agents and publishers. (You send the queries while you're working on the proposal. This helps you to gauge reaction to your work.)
• (Day Six) Writing the proposal.
• (Day Seven) Writing the sample chapter. Revising your proposal.

I'll be including a sample of a book proposal for you to look at, so you can see what material the proposal contains. This proposal garnered an agent contract the first time I sent it out. I'll also include other samples, so that you have plenty of templates from which to construct your own proposal.

How to use this ebook

First, read through the book, to see what information it contains.
Next, work through the book, chapter by chapter. As you read each chapter, do
the tasks and the exercises in the order in which they appear. Doing them will help
you to write not just one, but many book proposals. Remember, the primary aim of
this book is to help you write your first book proposal and be well on the way to
selling it by the time you've worked your way through all the chapters.

Work FAST

It's vital that you concentrate on getting the words down on paper. As long as you have something on paper you can fix it. As we work through the material, I'll be encouraging you to work FAST and not think to much about what you're writing. Thinking has no business in your first draft. Thinking comes later as you rewrite.

Can't devote a week to writing your proposal?

If you're on vacation you can set aside a couple of weeks to work on your proposal. But what if you don't have a vacation due? Easy! You can fit writing into your busy life. You'll still follow all the steps, but it will take you longer. Try to stick to a set schedule. You may decide that you'll complete a chapter a week, for example.

Work fast. Work on your book proposal EVERY DAY, even if you only have five minutes to spare. This is because at the beginning, ideas are fragile. Time spent with your proposal each day helps you to build and maintain your energy and your enthusiasm.

Day One: What’s a book proposal? Get an idea for your book

Day One Tasks
Task One: Look over four non-fiction books

Take your notebook and visit a bookstore. Skim four non-fiction books of the kind which you hope to write. Check the number of pages, the table of contents, and chapter length. How are these books written? Are they written in a casual, tongue-incheek style like the For Dummies series? Do they include lots of anecdotes and personal information about the author?

In your notebook, write down each book's title, author, publisher and year of publication. Also write down anything you find interesting about the book. Scan the acknowledgements page to see whether the author thanks her editor and her agent. Make a note of their names if she does. (These people may be interested in your proposal if it covers a similar subject area.)

Task Two: Work through the Idea Generator exercises in this chapter

Read the Idea Generators, and do at least three of them, even if you've already got an idea for your book. Working through this material is important because it will give you confidence that you it's easy for you to find as many ideas as you need.

Task Three: Create a computer folder to hold your working files Create a folder on your computer to hold all the files for your book. As you work, you'll generate many files. Create sub-folders as you need them.

 

Task Three: Create a Work Log

Create a file on your computer as a diary for this project. Paste all the information you gather while searching the Internet and while communicating with others in this log. Date each entry. If you need to leave your project for a few days, you can read your log to get back into the groove of your project.

What’s a book proposal?

A book proposal is a business document which convinces a publisher to buy your book before you've written it. Your proposal says, in effect: "Hey, I've got a great idea for a book which lots of people will want to buy. Do you want to publish it?"

Think of it as a combination brochure and outline of your proposed book. There's a standard format of material that your book proposal will need to cover. This doesn’t mean that you need to hew completely to this format. It's just a guideline of topics your proposal must contain.

Your book proposal must contain:

• A title page, with the title, subtitle, author, word count of the completed book, and estimated time frame for completion. You might state: "75,000 words, completion three months after agreement".
• An overview: a description of the book. This can be as short as a paragraph, or several pages long.
• The background of the author. Your biography, as it relates to your expertise for this book.
• The competition in the marketplace. This is where you mention the top four or five titles which are your book's competitors. (Note: if there are dozens of competitors for your book, this is a good thing, because it means that the subject area is popular. Your book will need to take a new slant.)
• Promotions. This is where you describe how you will promote your book, both before and after publication.
• A chapter outline.
• A sample chapter, or two chapters. This is always the first chapter, and if you're sending two chapters, it's the Introduction and Chapter One, or if there's no Introduction, it's Chapters One and Two.
• Attachments. Optional. You may want to attach articles you've written about the book's topic, or any relevant supporting material.

Got an idea for your book? Great!

If you already have an idea for your book, that's great. Please work through the material in this chapter using your current idea, or join us in developing new ideas. Open a new computer file so that you can work through the exercises as we progress.

Start here to develop an idea for your next book

There's nothing mysterious about coming up with ideas. Within a page or two, you'll have more ideas than you know what to do with. Your ideas start with YOU. When you think about what you enjoy, about your past experiences and your knowledge, you're guaranteed a regular fountain of ideas. Let's turn on the fountain.

As you do the following exercises, work through them quickly. Don't allow yourself to bog down. Do them as quickly as you can, and then go and do something else for a few hours, to let the ideas gestate and bubble in your subconscious mind.

When you come back, read through the ideas you generated, and add to them as you read through your lists. Please don’t discard any ideas at this stage. This is because the way to a brilliant, fantastic idea is by twisting an idea slightly, reversing it, or by combining several ideas into a new one.

Searching for ideas alerts your subconscious mind that ideas are important to you. Over the next few days, you may get a nudge from an idea which says: "Write me down". Do that right away, even if you're in the middle of a shower or you're driving along the freeway. (If you’re driving, pull over.) Write that idea down, because even if you're one hundred per cent certain that you will never in this lifetime forget that amazing idea you just had, believe me, you will forget it. Write it down, always.

When you stay alert to the idea hovering at the corners of your consciousness you will never be without a book bubbling away. This is how you turn your first book into a long series of books.

First thing in the morning is a great time to generate ideas. Set your alarm ten minutes early, then sit up in bed and jot down 50 ideas.

 

Idea Generator One: What you're good at

Make a list of 20 things you're good at. Don't think too hard about this. Maybe you're good at buying presents for people—you've got a knack for choosing just the right gift. Maybe you're a good cook, or a good parent, or a good swimmer or a good tennis player. Or maybe you used to be good at one or more of these things. For example: I grew up with horses, and owned horses for many years. I'm good with horses, and a good rider. If I saw a gap in the market for a horse book, I'd feel comfortable writing the book.

You get the idea. List at least 20 things that you're good at, or have been good at in the past. For example, if you know you're an excellent gardener, even though you now live an apartment, list "gardening".

Idea Generator Two: Your past experiences

Experiences sell. If you've been abducted by little green men from Mars, it's a book. If you're a bigamist, it’s a book. People have written books about their illnesses (see from challenge to opportunity below), their addictions, and their pets. Browse through the bestseller lists to see what personal experiences people are writing about.

Here's where you walk down memory lane. If you're in your twenties, it'll be a short stroll. If you’re in your forties or older, it will be a hike. Don't get bogged down with this, list 20 experiences you've had that spring to mind.

The easiest way to come up with experiences is to work backwards through the stages of your life, or through decades. Again, don’t take a long time over this. Set yourself a time limit --- ten minutes is enough.

Idea Generator Three: Your knowledge

 

What do you know? Start by making a list of all the subjects you were good at in school. Then list all the jobs you've had – yes, part time work counts. Also list:

• Your hobbies. Are you a keen Chihuahua breeder? Do you quilt? Take photographs?
• Your current job. What are you learning in your job that other people would pay to learn?
• The places you've lived. Your hometown may be boring to you, but guide books sell well.
• Your family tree. What special knowledge do your nearest and dearest have that you could write about?

Spend around ten minutes writing down as many subjects as you have knowledge about.

 

Idea Generator Four: What you enjoy most

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson freely admits that she cooks because she loves to eat. Nigella has turned her love of food into a career. She regularly produces bestselling books. (Her chocolate recipes are brilliant.) What do you love? People have written about garage sales, cosmetics, cars, vacations. If you love something, chances are that thousands or maybe millions of others will love it too.

Watch the newspapers and take note of current trends. Or better yet, listen to what your children are talking about, or asking you to buy for them. Children tend to be well up on what’s happening.

Remember that it will take around two years for your book to reach the bookstores. Therefore, the currently hot topics on the bestselling lists may be old news before your book is in the stores. This doesn’t mean of course that you can’t write on perennial favourites like money, sex and exercise. These topics never go out of popularity, and a new twist on one of these is always a sure bet.

The idea of writing about what you enjoy is that you will be bringing passion and enthusiasm to your topic. Enthusiasm is a must.

 

Idea Generator Five: From challenge to opportunity

You face challenges every day. Most are minor, some are major challenges. If you've ever faced a large challenge, or if you're facing one right now, then consider that the things you learn could help other people. Whatever your challenge is, whether it’s moving house or confronting a life-threatening illness, other people face the same challenges, and in those challenges lie the seeds of books.

Make a list of 20 challenges you've faced in your life. Anything catastrophic qualifies: losing your job, facing bankruptcy, the betrayal of a spouse. If you've had a quiet life, then make a list of challenges that the people you know have faced.

Additional challenges you can consider include any habit you've broken, from congenital lateness to overeating.

When you've finished brainstorming, you'll have dozens of book ideas. Winnow out the non-starters. Don't delete them, move them to another computer file. Call it "odds and ends" or "snippets".

Checklist: Is this the right idea for you TODAY?

You've worked through the idea generators, and you have one or more ideas which you feel would work as a book. The next step is to scrutinize your primary idea carefully.

Consider your idea and look at this list of questions. See if you can answer "Yes" to all of them:

þ Am I enthusiastic enough about this subject and my ideas about it to sell this proposal to an agent and an editor – and to readers?
þ Will I retain my enthusiasm through the months it will take me to complete the book?
þ Is there a market for my book? (I've checked Amazon.com and bookshops for competing titles. I'm convinced there is a market for my book.)
þ I can find people with expert knowledge to interview as I write my book.
þ Does my book provide solutions to problems?

If you can answer YES to most of these questions, you're set. Great! We're going to start work on your proposal.

Day Two: Develop your idea and assess the market

Day Two Tasks
Task One: Keep studying non-fiction books

The more you know about how non-fiction books are constructed the more easily you'll be able to work on your own book with confidence. Look at the books on your shelves at home, and at your local library. (Be sure to make a note of any editor or agent acknowledgements.)

Task Two: Develop your idea

 

Work through the various steps in developing your idea. (See "Simple Steps In Developing Your Idea" in this chapter.

 

Dispelling myths and a word about confidence

If you're feeling nervous now that you're about to start this project, relax. Tell yourself that you will take it step by step. All you need to do is work at it steadily, a word, sentence and paragraph at a time, and you will complete your proposal, and then when you've sold the proposal, you'll complete your book using the same easy-does-it method.

While we're at it, let's dispel a few myths.

 

Myth One

It takes a special talent to write books.
It takes persistence. There are as many different kinds of writers as there are people. Some are young, some are elderly, many are in-between. You don’t need any special writing talent to write books, nor do you need to be highly educated. Many successful writers have never completed high school. If you can write well enough to write a letter, you can write a book.

Myth Two

Writers starve in garrets.
Many professional writers make incomes that would make doctors and lawyers envious. Most make reasonable incomes. If you decide to make a career of writing non-fiction books, the major benefit is that if you choose your book's topic with care, your book can stay in print for many years. For each year that your book's in print, you get two royalty checks. Let's say that you write two books a year for five years. At the end of the five years, if your books all stay in print, you'll be getting ten royalty checks a year. These ongoing royalties are your nest-egg, profitable investments in your future.

Myth Three

It's hard to sell a book.
As long as you research the market for each book before you write as much as a single word, it's easy to sell a book. Publishers need competent, reliable writers who can produce good books regularly. This myth got started because --- let's be blunt here--- 99 per cent of submissions to editors and publishers are not publishable.

Myth Four

You need to know someone to get a book published.
You need to write a good book to get a book published. That really is all you need to do. I started writing romance novels and they were published by an English publisher. I certainly didn’t know anyone in UK publishing; I live in Australia. If you have a contact in publishing, by all means use that contact. However, it's not necessary. Publishing is big business, and publishers need good books.

Today we'll develop your idea and assess the market

Developing your idea and assessing the market go together. We'll work on both tasks today. The idea of working on both tasks together is that as you read through the outlines of books which cover a similar area to yours, you'll see what's already been published, and you'll get fresh ideas for material that you can cover in your own book.

Note: your personal experience is valuable

As you skim through other people's books, jot down any thoughts and ideas you get. You should make a note of any experiences you remember which you could include in your book. This is because everyone loves a story, so no matter what subject area your book covers, include your own anecdotes. If you're writing a diet book, include funny/ informative stories about your own experiences with diets, or the experiences of your friends.

You may want to use fictitious names to protect people's privacy. You will definitely need to use fictitious names if you can't contact people to ask for permission to use a story or if you think there's a chance that people will be able to recognize themselves from a story you tell that puts them in a bad light.

For example, perhaps you belonged to a group of dieters, and you tell a story about another person in the group. Even if this was 20 years ago, and you've given this person a fictitious name, disguise the story: change the person's sex, age, and occupation.

Simple steps in developing your idea

 

Work on developing your idea step by step. Here's how:

 

1. Write down everything you know about this idea

Let's say you've decided to write a book on natural healthcare for pets. You own several dogs and a cat, and are an enthusiast for natural healthcare because it's worked for you and for your friends. Today you're going to make copious notes. You're going to write down everything you can think of which relates to your idea. It doesn’t matter whether you use a computer file, or a pen and paper, sit down and get ready.

Ask yourself: who, what, how, when, where and why. Make topic headings for each question. Then answer each question. Don’t try to write in complete sentences, just make notes. For example, if you took one of your dogs to a doggie chiropractor for several years, note down the chiropractor's name, the dog's name, problems the dog had, the number of sessions --- anything and everything you can remember. Also write down what you don’t know, so you can find out. (One of the benefits of research is that you get to answer all the questions you have about a topic.)

Take as much time as you need. You may want to work in forty-minute sessions, and then go and do something else for a while. Taking breaks is important. It's during the breaks that your subconscious mind will go to work for you can scan your memory banks to come up with more ideas.

Don’t discard any of your ideas. And write down every idea, no matter how tangential. Your mind works via associations. Therefore, if you get a notion to write down "Phips --- broken leg" write this down, even if it seems that it has nothing to do with natural healthcare for pets. Phips was your first dog, and was hit by a car. This was 30 years ago, and you don’t remember much about the incident. However, after writing it down, you ask your mother about Phips, and she tells you that the little Corgi was bred by a woman who was into natural healthcare (you didn’t remember this --- you may not even have known it, but somehow your subconscious got you to write it down). You contact the woman, who's elderly, but who's a fountain of useful information, and she provides almost a chapter of information for your book. You'll find that you have many serendipitous incidents like this as you write your proposal and your book.

2. Make a long list of possible book titles

 

At this stage, you don’t need the perfect title, Healthcare for Pets will do as your working title. Make a list of 20 title ideas as quickly as you can. (And save the list.)

Don't sweat a title. You'll often find that the perfect title doesn't occur to you until you book is completely written. Or, your publisher may come up with a title they want to use.

3. Create a list of contacts

Who could help you with information for this book? Write down the name of everyone you can think of. Do this quickly, you can look up their email address or postal address when the time comes to contact them. At this stage, you just want a list of all those people who will be able to help you.

Is there an association of people who might help? In our Healthcare for Pets example, there will be numerous veterinary associations and kennel club associations of people who could provide valuable information.

Create an Acknowledgements computer file. Whenever someone helps you with information for the book, type their name into the Acknowledgements file. People get a kick out of helping an author with a book, and the best way to thank them is to make sure that their name appears on the Acknowledgements page in the book.

Assess the market for your book
1. Visit large bookstores

Start by visiting some large bookstores. Take your notebook and a pen. Copy the Tables of Contents of books that treat the same subject matter that your book does. You will want to make your book significantly different from other books which cover the same topic. If your book is exactly the same as other books on the topic, no publisher will be interested in buying it. However, you shouldn’t be discouraged if there are many books covering the area which you intend to cover. Lots of books mean that this area is very popular. For example, publishers bring out dozens of diet books each year. And there's room for yours, too!

Aim for at least three to five points of difference. This doesn’t mean that you have to come up with all new information. In fact, presenting completely new information is impossible. Sticking with our diet book example, there's only one way to lose weight, and that's to take in fewer calories than you expend. Authors reveal this ghastly news to their readers in many ways. Therefore, it's how you present the material that counts. If you can show readers a new way to diet, and you can prove that your method works, you're in, with a hot seller on your hands.

2. Visit your library

Next, drive to the library. Ask the librarian for Books In Print. This is a multi-volume set of reference books which lists all the books currently available by author, subject and title. Your library may have the books, or it may have the BIP CDs. If your library's BIP is on CD, get a printout of all the books in your subject area.

Don't faint if you see an ultra-lengthy list! Several years ago when I was assessing the market for a book on time management, BIP spat out ten-plus pages. I got all the books which sounded as though they might be similar via inter-library loan, and none resembled my book at all. So the fact that there are lots and lots of books means little other than that this subject is popular. This is a good thing!

Next check out Forthcoming Books. FC should be available at your library right near BIP. FC lists all those books which will be released in the next six months.
You'll want to have the books which are the main competition for your book on hand if possible. You don't have to buy them all. You can borrow them from the library, or if they’re listed on Amazon.com, you can use Amazon.com's clever "Look Inside" technology, so that you can scan the contents pages of competing titles.

3. Amazon.com

Amazon.com is your next port of call. Type the subject of your book into the search query box, and you'll get a list of all those books which touch on your subject area. Print out this list. Having the list handy helps you when the time comes to pick a title.

Read the descriptions, and all the reviews of any books which sound as if they might be similar to yours.

 

Write a report on your discoveries

Now you've finished surveying the marketplace as it stands for your idea, take the time to write a brief report on what you've discovered. This report is for your own use. Do this right away when it's all still fresh in your mind. It's important to do this, because when you talk to your editor or agent, you'll want to have all the information on the market situation handy. Your report doesn’t have to be long. A page will do.

Day Three: Write the blurb and outline your book

Day Three Tasks
Task One: Write at least three blurbs Write at least three blurbs for your book: 200 words, 50 words, and 25 words. (See the sample blurbs in this chapter.)

 

Task Two: Collect sample blurbs

Blurbs sell books. Everyone from the publisher who initially buys the proposal, to the book store owner who stocks your book will decide whether they’re interested in your book based on the blurb alone.

Become a connoisseur of blurbs. Start your own blurb collection. Each time you see a blurb which you think is effective, copy it, and put it into your Blurb File.

 

Writing the blurb

The "blurb" is the back cover material for your book --- the selling points which will get people to buy the book. If you write the blurb before you write an outline, you're guaranteed not to wander off the track as you write your book.

I can’t emphasize the importance of your blurb enough. If you've been thinking of skipping this section, please don't. Here are some reasons to write your blurb first:

• it keeps you focused on the theme of your book;
• it makes writing the outline easier;
• it makes selling your proposal easier;
• it will assure your agent and editor that you know what you're doing,

and they'll feel comfortable working with you and handing over the advance;

• when you've sold the book, and the time comes to write it, you'll have an easier time because you can keep the blurb at the forefront of your mind.

Your blurb helps your agent and editor to get a contract for you

Your blurb is the "sales story" for your book. If your agent becomes enthusiastic about your book, she'll become enthusiastic on the basis of your blurb. She'll use the blurb as her sales pitch to other people. For example, when she talks to an editor at a publishing house who may be interested in your book, she'll start with your blurb. The conversation will stop there if the editor doesn’t see the book's potential. Let's say that the editor likes the blurb enough to look at the proposal. If she's still keen, it's her turn to sell your book, on the basis of the blurb, to the other people in the publishing company. She'll need to convince Sales and Marketing that they can sell your book. If they're not keen, you won’t get an offer.

When you've written your book, your publisher will try to sell your book to book distributors, and later to booksellers, all on the basis of the blurb that you started out with. So the time that you spend working on the blurb is not wasted, it's the most important part of your book. Without a good blurb, your book will not come into existence.

Having said all that, it's also important that you don't obsess over your blurb. Everything you write can be fixed, so focus on getting your blurb written, in various lengths, rather than striving to make your blurb perfect. Your blurb may well go through many incarnations: you'll make changes, your agent may want changes, and your editors will definitely want changes.

Sample blurbs

Here are two sample blurbs.
The first is from my book LifeTime: Better Time Management in 21 Days,
published by Prentice Hall in 1997. I wrote this blurb while I was working to gather
material for the book. It took me around ten minutes to write. You'll often find that as
you're starting to work on book, your blurb will come to you as a flash of inspiration.
If it doesn’t, don’t worry about it, just follow the process outlined below.

The second is from my book Making The Internet Work For Your Business which was published by Allen & Unwin in 1998. I didn't write this blurb until the book was complete, and the publisher was sending a brief to the cover designer. This blurb took me a long time to write. I also had a lot of trouble writing the book, and I think that if I'd written the blurb before I started, I would have had a much easier time with the book, and would have enjoyed writing it more.

Sample blurb from: LifeTime: Better Time Management in 21 Days by Angela Booth

You're about to meet a very powerful genie. This genie will give you all the time you need to be everything you want to be, to do everything you want to do, and to have everything you want to have --- you are this genie!

LifeTime: Better Time Management in 21 Days shows you how to manage your time so that you can achieve any goals you set for yourself. You'll learn to feel focused and relaxed as you achieve your goals.

Spend 21 days with LifeTime: Better Time Management in 21 Days and in just 20 minutes a day you'll learn to how to:
v Focus, so that you get more done in less time;
v Separate tasks into the urgent and the important;
v Effectively prioritise and delegate tasks;
v Practise relaxation daily until it becomes a habit;
v Determine your values, so that you can set appropriate goals;
v And become more creative.

Each day's reading will give you ideas, inspiration and motivation, as well as simple tasks to help you develop your time management skills.

 

(The above blurb is around 200 words. Create several versions of your blurb at different lengths --- more on this below.)

Sample blurb from: Making The Internet Work For Your Business by Angela Booth
When you use the Internet for your business you don’t need to wait for customers to come to you because a Web site is a 24-hour sales force to the whole world. Making The Internet Work For Your Business offers clear and practical advice on how to use the Internet to develop your business; how to promote your products and services; how to find vital information; and how to pursue new business opportunities.

This book includes the following features:

v Introduces online basics and describes the equipment you will need to get your business online and build your own Web site;
v Offers practical advice on how to expand your business online, including tips on your site's useability, how to market your Web site, and how to boost Internet sales;
v Provides case studies of how people are using the Internet inexpensively and simply to develop their businesses;
v Includes a fast-finder directory of useful resources available to businesses on the Internet: company contacts and suppliers; trainers and educators; financial sites; government and legal information; human resources; freebies on the Internet; and other SOHO-related resources.

By using the Internet you can run more business more efficiently with lowered costs, fewer staff, and less space requirement, and have more time to develop your business creatively. Explore the advantages to your business of e-commerce using your Web site as a merchant commerce system that can handle orders, payment and fulfilment via the site.

The above blurb runs to almost 250 words, which is a little long. If I were writing the book now, I would make it shorter and punchier.

The one-sentence version of the blurb is: " Making The Internet Work For Your Business offers clear and practical advice on how to use the Internet to develop your business; how to promote your products and services; how to find vital information; and how to pursue new business opportunities."

Write your blurb in easy steps

Before you start writing your blurb, ask yourself: who will be reading this book? This question is important, because it helps you to picture the reader as you write. Once you have an image of your ideal reader in your mind, you'll find it's much easier to work on your book. Working out who your readers will be also gives you a head start in writing the marketing section of your book proposal.

Let's stay with the book on natural healthcare for pets. Who would be interested in this book? Make a list. Your list could start with: pet owners who use natural healthcare, companies that manufacture natural petcare products, and veterinary surgeons.

Then go on and create your blurb in the following easy steps.

One: Make a list of the benefits to the reader Your reader will buy the book because of the benefits the book gives her. Features are different from benefits. For example, you may be presenting recipes for making pet remedies. The pet remedies is a feature. The benefit of the pet remedies could be that they save the reader trips to the vet and money on expensive commercial products. YOU MUST USE THE BENEFITS IN YOUR BLURB.

First list all of the features your book will contain. Then make a list of all the benefits.
Take down three or four books from your shelves, and study their blurbs. Do they list the benefits? How are the benefits presented?
(You'll occasionally find that the author and publisher, not to mention the publisher's sales and marketing departments, were all asleep when the book was in production, and the blurb contains a long list of features. Work out how you’d convert those features into benefits. This is excellent practise for you.)

Two: Rank the benefits Rank the benefits in their order of importance. You may want to get some help here. Read your list of benefits to a friend, and ask how she'd rank them.

Three: Write several blurbs, in various lengths In addition to your list of benefits, your blurb can contain an intriguing fact, or a short anecdote. For example, if you once saved the life of your pet with a natural healthcare remedy, you could tell this story as part of your blurb.

When you've completed your blurb, in around 200 to 300 words, create shorter versions. Create one of 100 words, another of 50 words, and you can even try to pare it down to 25 words.

Here's a one sentence version of the sample blurb for LifeTime: "LifeTime: Better Time Management in 21 Days shows you how to manage your time so that you can achieve any goals you set for yourself." As you can see, the sentence is taken from the longer blurb.

Essential blurb add-on: the testimonial

Publishers love cover testimonials, because they know that they sell books. How many times have you bought a book because someone you'd heard of and respected recommended the book to you? If you know anyone famous, or can get in touch with them, now's the time to contact them to ask them whether they'd be willing to read your book and provide a quote for you to use on the cover.

Outlining your book
Start with a mind map

This is where your blurb comes into its own. You can develop a basic outline from your blurb as a mind map, or cluster diagram. For each book I've written, I've used mind maps. Because a book is long, it's hard to keep the whole thing straight in your mind --- mind maps help you to do this.

Here's a sample mind map for Making The Internet Work For Your Business:

 

PlanningWeb site DIY, or hire it done?

 

Online Basics
Contacts

 

Mind map/ cluster
5/05/2003 - v5

 

Selling online
Why business online? Marketing

Diagramming your initial ideas of what you'd like the book to contain gives you an overview, from which you can develop a more detailed outline. Go through all the material you've gathered so far, and insert headings into your mind map.

Remember that at this stage, nothing is set in stone. Just work as quickly as you can, don’t think too much about it. You just want to get an idea of how much material you have.

Create your outline

Working from your mind map, create a chapter outline of your book. The easiest way to do this is just to write numbers from one to ten or one to 15 down the page, and type in chapter headings. Most books have around ten to 15 chapters. If yours has more than 15, that's fine.

Only got three or four headings? No matter how little material you have, or how much, don’t worry. This is the initial stages, remember. Just work quickly so that you get something down on paper. Tomorrow we'll be researching your book, and as you research, you're sure to find many more headings for your outline.

In these very early stages of working on your proposal, your subconscious mind is your greatest resource. Therefore, if you get an impulse to write down something, write it down, even if it doesn’t make much sense to you. The reason you got this idea will come to you.

Day Four: Research your book proposal, and flesh out your book's outline

Day Four Tasks
Task One: Create your research plan

It's a good idea to create a research plan to guide you, both in writing your proposal, and later in writing your book. Knowing that you can find all the information you need is a confidence-builder.

Task Two: Create a chapter outline for your book Write a chapter outline for your book proposal.

 

Research: How much do you need to know?

Remember that this is just a proposal, you're not writing the complete book. Therefore, you may not need to do any research at all. You may have all the material you need. If this is the case, you can go right on to fleshing out your outline.

If you need to gather material, then first you should develop a research plan. This may take you an hour or two, but it's time well spent. You will use this plan first to develop your proposal, and later when you’re writing your book. For your proposal, you probably won’t need to go past # 6 in your plan to get all the information you need.

Your research plan

 

1. Develop a frame of reference, and write it down as a complete sentence, using no more than 25 words. The shortest blurb you wrote should work well for this step.

2. Next, mind map or outline everything you need to research. This is to give you a quick overview. It's a good idea to print this mind map out so that you can glance at it as you work. You'll find that if you're online, or at the library, it's tempting to explore other avenues. These avenues may well be productive, and you can explore them at some stage, but not while you're trying to write your proposal. Once you start writing, your only goal should be: "get it done".

3. Do a general search on the Web using a search engine like Google.com to locate additional areas you could explore.

4. If you find mention of any online groups or mailing lists which seem appropriate for your subject, join them. The members may be able to provide you with anecdotes or other information.

5. Make a note of companies which are mentioned in your Web search. Can they help you? The benefit of asking companies to help you in your research is free, current information. Most companies will be only too pleased to help, for the PR boost you can give them. Make a note to yourself to acknowledge them in your book. If any company has given you a lot of help, it's a nice gesture to send them a copy when the book's published.

6. Check periodical indices for articles which might be useful. Once you needed to trudge along to the library for this kind of help, but LexisNexis is faster.

7. Are there any books which could help you? Try Amazon to find recent books on your topic. (You may already have notes on these books which you collected while you were trying to come up with an idea for a book.)

8. Original sources. This is where your list of contacts comes in useful. Make a note of people you will want to interview, first for your proposal, and later, for your book.

 

9. Experts and organisations.

STOP! Don't collect more information than you need to write your proposal Creating your research plan shouldn’t take you more than an hour, or two hours maximum. Until you get into the writing process, whether it's your proposal, or the book itself, you won’t know exactly what you need. As long as you have sufficient material for that day's work, you've got enough information.

Work on your book's outline and the first chapter, as you research

We'll do more work on the outline and first chapter later this week. But, because they form such a big part of your proposal, start working on them now, as you research.

 

The Brain-Dead Process

Here's a process I use to combine research and writing, and just get the bones of the work done. This is a process you can use when you're writing anything. Use it for your proposal, the book itself, writing advertising material – I even use it for writing copy for businesses and for novels. The best thing about this process is that it stops you from getting stuck.

1) Idea/ topic/ subject
2) Ten minutes of research
3) Word lists
4) Timed free-writing for five minutes
5) Take a break
6) First draft

1. Idea/ topic/ subject

If you've got an idea you want to develop, write it at the top of a sheet of paper. In this instance, write the title you've chosen for your first chapter. I use
colored pencils and paper for this part of the process so that I can doodle all around
the page, but feel free to open a new document in your word processor if you want to
type.
If you don't have a topic or a title for your chapter, just get a blank sheet of
paper or open a new document, and keep following the steps of the process.

2. Ten minutes of research

 

This research process is really just an early-warning for your subconscious mind, to stimulate it and to get it to start coming up with material.

I tend to browse the Web for research whatever I happen to be working on, because I can always find something that starts me thinking. For example, one week I was ready to work on five radio spots for a jewellery store. I browsed online jewellery stores, and museum sites. Within five minutes I hit on an information nugget that stimulated a train of thought. Whatever topic you're writing on for your proposal, browse a few Web sites which are related.

3. Word lists

I love word lists. They take no effort at all, and they're ideal for kick-starting any kind of writing. I use them for fiction, for non-fiction and for copywriting. I also write them just for practice, to get my brain ticking over. Here's part of a word list I wrote this morning: "Glamor fear isolation energy deliver storm glow wind moon rush generosity travel stream voice density". You can see that on one level, it's just a laundry-list of words. On another level, what if I asked you to write half a page of a story, using these three words: "Fear Storm Generosity" somewhere in the first paragraph? You could do it, and you'd find it easy.

I could use this list to develop a scene for a chapter in a novel, or to develop a new character for the novel. But I'm currently working on an advertorial for digital imaging products for a computer magazine, so the word list gives me some ideas to play with for that. The list even gives me some ideas I could develop for magazine articles and essays. Not bad for fifteen words which took a few seconds to write.

For your book proposal, just start making lists of words. The idea is not to direct your thoughts at all, just list all the words which spring to mind. Don’t limit yourself with words directly related to the subject of you proposal. You may never use your word lists in your work at all. I think of them as ways of prodding my subconscious. After I've filled half a page of words, I may or may not use them. I don't look on writing the lists as a waste of time, however, because writing them gets me into a creative mood.

4. Timed free-writing for five minutes

The topic for your free-writing session will be the title of your first chapter. I'm a fan of free-writing. If you haven't read Peter Elbow's amazing books,
particularly Writing With Power, get hold of the book as soon as you can. After
reading it, I guarantee you you'll never have problems with getting words onto the
page ever again.
Timed free-writing is just what it sounds like. You set a timer, and put pen to
paper, or get your fingers traveling across the keyboard. At the end of the time you
set, you stop writing. You don't have to write in complete sentences. You can write
fragments of thoughts, or even write a word list. Just write whatever words appear in
your mind. Don't put any pressure on yourself. Even if you have a report that needs to
be finished in an hour, don't make the subject of your report the topic for your freewriting session. Let whatever words want to come out, emerge. You can whine onto
the page about how hard writing is for five minutes, if you wish. If you do, you'll feel
better for having released that limiting thought.

5. Take a break

Close your notebook, switch off your computer and leave your desk. Your break can be short, but take at least ten minutes. Preferably half an hour or an hour. I mean it --LEAVE YOUR DESK.

6. First draft

When you return to your desk, don't look at any of your word lists, or your freewriting session. Just start to work on a first draft of your outline, and some material for your first chapter. Write as quickly as you can.

I do first drafts on the computer, and I try to type fast, just following whatever thoughts happen to strike me, and not paying any attention to typos or to format. If I'm writing an article or advertising copy, or anything which is under a thousand words, I write the first draft straight through. I aim to take an hour or less to do this. At this stage, my aim is just to get the words written. I can worry about whether they're the right words later. Right now, I just want words.

You will find that the words come quickly, and that you not only outline your first chapter, but several additional chapters.

 

What goes into your chapter outline?

You don't need to create the kind of outline that your English teacher harassed you into creating when you were 12. The kind of outline you need to create is one based on components. Non-fiction is much easier to write than fiction because all nonfiction books similar components. Let's have a look at some of them:

• A foreword. This is similar to an introduction, but a foreword is usually written by someone other than the author of the book. It helps if you can get someone famous to contribute the foreword.

Note: They may expect payment for this. If this person would lend great credibility to your book, then consider paying them for the foreword. It could make the difference between whether your proposal is easy to sell, or more difficult. If you’re writing in an area in which you don’t have professional expertise --- for example, if you're writing about a medical topic and you're not a doctor --- then getting a foreword written by a professional is worthwhile.

• An introduction. This is optional. If you can't think of anything to put in an introduction, leave it out. Think of including an introduction if you want to tell your own story: how you came to get the information you're about to share.

• A "How To Use This book" chapter or page. This can be short, or quite long. For example, if you're writing a book on yoga, you could use this chapter to give four or five exercise routines, compiled from the various poses that you discuss in the rest of the book.

• Chapters with problems and solutions. For example, if you were writing a book on dieting, you could write seven chapters all posing a typical problem, and then provide solutions for each problem.
• The last chapter is the wrap-up. In this chapter you'll want to give readers instructions on where they go from here, and you'll also want to include an inspirational message.

• A glossary is useful if it will be necessary for readers new to the subject area. For example, if your book contains a lot of industry jargon with which your reader is unfamiliar, give explanations of terminology here.

• An index. I'm always disappointed when an otherwise excellent book, that I'll be referring to again, omits an index. I know creating an index is a hassle, but if you think your readers will use it, then go the extra mile and include it.

Will you need graphics or photographs?

If your book needs photos or other graphics, start thinking about them now. For example, if you’re writing about petcare, then by all means send along a couple of relevant photos or graphics with your proposal. However, illustrative material is only useful if it adds value for the reader. Do the other books which cover the same subject as your book include graphics?

If you decide that your book must have graphics, mention this in your proposal. Send along an image or two, even if you've only taken them with your own digital camera.

Day Five: Write your proposal query letter, and submit it to agents and publishers

Day Five Tasks
Task One: Start a contact list of agents and publishers

Finding an agent/ publisher is the first step to selling your book proposal. However, even after you've sold your proposal, you'll want to stay current with agent and publisher news in order to sell your next proposal, and the one after that.

Start a contact list of agents and publishers, and as you find snippets of information online, or in your offline reading, enter notes into your database. Information you might want to add includes: recent sales and the amount the book was sold for, movements of editors from one publishing house to the next, and publishing house changes.

Collecting and maintaining all this information shouldn’t be viewed as a chore. It's vital business intelligence. It could also help you to increase your income by many thousands of dollars each year.

Task Two: Send out ten query letters to agents and publishers

Agents and publishers take time to respond. So today you'll create a query letter for your proposal, and will send it out to ten agents and publishers. You can choose to send only to agents, or only to publishers, or you may want to send out five to each group.

Today you write your proposal query letter

Now you're written the blurb for your book, and the chapter outline, the next step is to start asking agents and publishers whether they’re interested in looking at the proposal for your book. This means that you'll send out a query letter, asking agents and publishers to look at your proposal.

Note: some new authors want to omit this step. They figure --- hey, I'll just send the complete proposal, so I get a response faster. Unfortunately, sending a complete unsolicited proposal will SLOW the process. Agents and publishers receive so many packages of material that they stack them in a spare office, and the office junior gets to read them once every couple of months. Send a query letter, then send the proposals to those people who've asked to see it.

Do you need an agent?

Yes. And no. It can sometimes be harder to get an agent than it is to get a publisher, so it's a good idea to query both. When you get an agent, you can tell the agent which publishers you've already queried. If you get an agent before you get a publisher, you can approach agents who are a good fit for your book to ask them whether they will handle the contract negotiations for you.

You definitely need an agent if you intend to write more than one book. As to whether you should go agent-hunting, the answer is a definite yes. This isn't only because an agent will take a lot of the submission and negotiation workload, and because the agent has (one hopes) her fingers constantly on the pulse of publishing and knows what’s going on, it's also because an agent forms a handy cut-off switch between you and the publisher. When problems occur --- let's say that your editor's demands annoy you, or that your advance payments are late, you've got someone to gripe at other than your editor.

On the other hand, if you'd rather keep all the profits your book makes, and feel that you can handle your contract negotiations yourself, you may want to skip agents, and focus on publishers.

Online resources to help you in your agent-hunt Here's a list of online resources which will help you to decide whether or not you want an agent, and agent contact details.

WritersNet This is an excellent site, with many useful articles telling you what agents do, as well as agent lists you can browse.

Literaryagents.org

 

Another excellent site with articles and agent listings.

Unfortunately, as in all fields, in writing there are scam artists. This page, maintained by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Inc, gives you the low-down (pun intended) on literary scammers.

Note: things change fast online. Do your own "literary agents" query on Google and other search engines for additional agent information and listings.
Sending your query letter directly to publishers

Many large publishers will not look at unagented material. However, this still leaves many who will. And most will look at any letter that you care to send them. Because a publisher can buy your book, and because you're likely to get a much faster response from a publisher than you will from an agent, I recommend that in addition to sending out your queries to agents, you also send them to publishers.

The best resource for finding publisher information online is

 

Writersmarket.com

From the Web site:
>>
WritersMarket.com is your wired key to publishing success, providing the most comprehensive—and always up-to-date—market contact info available, with electronic tools you won't find anywhere else. And it's all risk-free. Sign up today and get:

More markets than you'll find anywhere else. And with our constantly updated and verified contact listings, you'll find the market information you need to get your work into the hands of the right editor or agent today.
Easy-to-use searches. Looking for a specific magazine or book publisher? Just type in the title. Or, widen your prospects with our new keyword search for broad category results.
Expert advice from top editors, agents and writers. Want to know how to improve your cover and query letters? Have a question for an editor or agent? Find the answer you need here.
Daily industry updates. Debbi Ridpath Ohi has her finger on the publishing pulse - and she shares her insider info with you.
Plus, personalize your home page, keep track of your work with Submission Tracker, save your best prospects in Favorites' Folders, and more!

>>

Please note, I don’t have any connection to Writersmarket.com, aside from subscribing to the service. I've been a subscriber for several years, and have always been happy with the service. It will save you a lot of time looking for publishers. Of course, the service isn't restricted to publisher listings. You'll find agent listings as well, plus magazine listings and a library of useful articles.

Yes, you can multiple-submit your query letter, and even your proposal

Once you start marketing your proposal, you'll find that some agents and publishers include words like "no multiple submissions" when they're telling authors how they want to receive proposals. In other words, they want exclusivity. Unfortunately, there's a big problem with this. The problem is time. Most agents and editors will take a month or longer to evaluate your proposal. Some take as long as six months. Considering that you may need to approach 20 to 30 editors and/ or publishers, you could still be sending out your book three years from now. Professional writers ignore these admonitions, because if they didn’t, they wouldn’t eat.

Sample Query Letter

 

What goes into a query letter? I've included a sample query letter that I've sent out, and which garnered an agent contract immediately. You'll see that this letter is:

 

• Short;

 

• To the point.

I could have spent a lot longer composing this letter --- I could have included a better hook, and included the book's blurb. At the time I sent it out however, I didn’t have the time to spend on revisions. I'm including this plain-vanilla, so-so query letter here for a reason. That is --- and I've found this to be true in 25 years of writing --- it's important that you SHOW UP. In other words, while you might want each piece of writing you send out to be perfect, or at least brilliant, sometimes you don’t have the time. At those times, send it out anyway.

Get into the habit of treating your work with a certain amount of aplomb. That is, even thought it's not perfect, and you could make it better if you had the time and energy, 90 per cent of the time what matters is that you send out your work. If you're a closet perfectionist, as I am, this will be hard for you at first.

XXX XXX

 

[DATE]

 

Dear XX

 

My name is Angela Booth. I'm seeking representation for my book: 7 Days To EasyMoney--- Copywriting Success.

The book is aimed at writers who would like to make money by copywriting (writing for business). As a copywriter, writers write the words that sell: everyday words. The words on ads, leaflets, brochures, press releases, product instructions and labels, newsletters, direct mail, and on Web sites.

I've been selling the material as an ebook and as an e-course on my Web site for several months. It has been well received, and now I'd like to take the material and use it as the basis for a book.

Although there are several popular books on copywriting, none approach the material in a step-by-step fashion. My book's constructed so that at the end of seven days and seven lessons, the reader has built a viable freelance copywriting business.

My credentials for writing the book: I've been both a successful copywriter and writer for over 25 years. I've included a brief bio below.

 

Please let me know if you'd like to see a proposal for the book.

 

Sincerely

 

Angela Booth

Bio:
Australian author and journalist Angela Booth writes about business, technology, women's issues, and creativity. Her books include: LifeTime: Better Time Management in 21 Days, Home Sweet Office: Your Home Office, Improve Your Memory in 21 Days, and Making the Internet Work for Your Business. Her feature articles have appeared in The Australian Women's Weekly, Woman's Day, New Idea, Vogue, and numerous other print and online magazines.

~~Angela Booth partial list of credits~~ A professional writer for 25 years, her credits include:

* Feature articles for mass market women's magazines in Australia and the US, including The Australian Women's Weekly, Woman's Day, New Idea and Vogue; * Feature articles for computer magazines;
* Content work for Web sites and Internet newsletters, including the Internet Business Forum (http://ibizhome.com/)
* Business books for major publishers, including many books in Prentice Hall's WorkWise series (translated into several Asian and European languages); * A series of romance novels for Macdonald Futura UK.

At her Digital-e --- Info to Go Web site (http://www.digital-e.biz/), Angela Booth publishers three popular ezines: Creative Small Biz and Your EveryDay Write, which are free to subscribers, and Freelance Copy Write, which has paying subscribers. She also teaches online writing courses.

Another sample query letter

Here's another sample query letter. At the time of writing, I haven't sent out this letter. Again however, you can see that it's short, to the point, and contains nothing irrelevant. Over the years, I've found that whether I'm pitching (selling) nonfiction or fiction, I've had the best responses to letters which were less than one page in length.

Remember that nothing is set in stone. It's all an experiment. Write your letter at whatever length seems best to you. Your motto should be: "whatever works".

XXXX XXXX [DATE]

Dear XX My name is Angela Booth. I'm seeking representation for my book: Writing To Sell In the Internet Age. The target audience is writers, and aspiring writers, who want to be paid for their skill with words.

Writing To Sell In the Internet Age discusses the new earning power that Internet technology gives writers. Many writers are comfortable using the Internet for email and research, but most are unaware that they now have many new opportunities, including:

• Clever new ways to market their work and services with tools like autoresponders, email mini-courses, ebooks, and promotional ezines;

• The opportunity to develop a loyal following of readers. They can write and publish instantly, to a worldwide audience millions strong, with tools like Web logs (blogs);

• The ability to target specific niches, and to garner an income much faster than they can via traditional publishing routes. A writer can write an ebook or report this month, and sell it forever.

I've been selling this material as an ebook and as an e-course on my Web site for several months. It has been well received, and now I'd like to take the material and use it as the basis for a book.

My credentials for writing the book: I've been an author, writer and copywriter over 25 years. I've been online since 1993, and know the online world well. (I've included a brief bio below.)

As far as I'm aware, there's no other book currently on the market which presents this material. The few Internet-related books for writers currently available came out around 2000, during the height of the dot com boom, and focus on online markets for writers.

Please let me know if you'd like to see a proposal for the book. Sincerely

 

Angela Booth

 

Write your query letter!

The next step is to write your own query letter. Don’t take too long over this. Make a couple of notes of points you want to include, and write it. You can include your blurb
--- your blurb could in fact make up the bulk of your letter.

Here's a quick outline for your letter: A. Introduce yourself in 20 words or less, and state your business --- "I'm seeking representation for my book: [title]…"
B. Blurb.
C. Your credentials.
D. Identify the market for the book.

"Don'ts" for your query letter

1. Don't make unsupported claims for yourself or your book Please don't say that you're successful or that you've written a bestseller. Only beginning writers make claims like this. The agent or editor will immediately classify you as a novice, and an irritating one at that.

(On the other hand, if a well-known much-published writer has praised you or your book, say so, and give his/ her contact details so that the editor can call him/ her.)

2. Don't mention that you're unpublished The agent will figure it out when you don’t mention writing credits. Please note: THIS IS NOT A BAD THING. Everyone has to start somewhere. Editors and agents know this, and they won’t hold it against you. They will judge your book proposal query on its merits. If an agent feels that your material is something that she can sell, she will contact you. As will an editor, if she feels that the writing in your query letter is to the point and professional, and she thinks that your book idea is a good one.

3. Don't mention that your partner, your best friend, or the milkman think that you’re a good writer or that you've got a brilliant idea for a book Unless these people have publishing credits, no one cares. Mentioning them marks you not only as an amateur, but also as someone who may be difficult to work with.

What do I mean by "difficult to work with"? Before you sign a contract, your agent and editor will judge your behaviour, looking for tell-tale signs that you might be a problem writer.

Problem writers:
o Argue when asked to rewrite. Almost everything you write will need to be rewritten. Your agent will ask you to add, delete or revise material in your proposal. Your editor will ask for rewrites on your book, and perhaps more than one rewrite. Therefore, if you show any sign that you may drag your feet over these chores, or do them without a song on your lips, they will dump you. Life's too short, and publishing is too competitive to indulge anyone's temperament;

o Procrastinate. Publishing is always on a tight deadline. From the day of your first contact, you must show that you can work to deadline.

o Can't follow instructions. Never be afraid to ask if there is something you don’t understand. For example, if you're asked for a "bio" and you don’t know how to write one, ask. No one will think less of you for asking, but they will take several steps backward if you don’t follow instructions, or if you decide that you will do things your way.

o Turn in a messy or less-than-pristine typescript. Or fail to send an electronic file when asked.

4. Don't be specific Many writers are never asked for a proposal because they don’t nail the query letter. If you tell an agent your book is about "growing up in the fifties", the agent will simply ignore you. This is not specific enough. You must be totally specific, so that the person you're writing to can visualise the book, and can also visualise where it will fit into the marketplace.

Writers do this sort of thing because they're insecure. They imagine that if they're vague, the agent will ask to see their book because they want to know exactly what it's about. This is a HUGE mistake. Agents and editors receive hundreds of letters and proposals each week. If you're not specific, you give the impression that you haven’t thought out your proposal.