Project Proposals

Last week, I was working on one of my current big goals: Sell Paige and Webb.

I sent off a quick e-mail to a publisher a little over a week ago, just to see if there was any interest. I was surprised when a few days later, their executive editor e-mailed me back asking for a project proposal.

Fortunately, I had been working on their project proposal. I was surprised that they wanted the proposal though. My research had told me that they don’t trade in picture books or board books, but they do trade in the topic I am addressing in Paige and Webb.

Delighted. Shocked. Excited. Nervous. and maybe a little Terrified were some of the emotions I felt. But mostly, Disbelief. This could happen. Wow.

I got to work. There were a few logistics problems due to quarantine conditions that got in the way that first day and a half, but after I acknowledged what they were, I dealt with them and decided that if I got nothing else done on Thursday, this proposal was going out.

As I worked through the parts of the proposal they had outlined on their website, I learned a lot.

I found a way to describe what I am doing in a concise and clear manner.

For the proposal, I did more research on my competition. What I thought was an empty market, wasn’t. There are several books doing a good job of accomplishing the goal that I wrote Paige and Webb for. None of them are approaching the need I see in the market the same way that I am, which makes me smile. I’m still unique.

A few weeks before the proposal request, I ran figures through a profit and loss statement for publishing that I found online here. I fiddled around with what it would take to run a kick starter campaign and make money at it. I guess I saw the problem of publishing from the perspective of the publisher…not just from the perspective of ME.

What was my competition? I really would need to know that if I wanted to successfully self publish this book. So why would I ignore it when I wanted a publisher to publish it?

What is the market doing? What are the driving forces that would either help or hurt the publication of this book?

Who is my target audience? Can I write about them intelligently? What resources can I find that will back up my view as to why they would buy my book? And while I didn’t answer this question in my proposal, I asked myself, “How many books could I sell?” “Could I sell enough books to sell out a first run in the first year?” or “What would I need to do to sell out a first run in the first year?”

For the proposal I answered: “Where would I find people and places that would have the best chance at selling my book?”

And who am I? What expertise do I have that would let them believe I can deliver?

Not all of the answers to all the questions I felt I needed to address were new to me, but by creating this project proposal, I identified questions I hadn’t thought about before and I revisited questions I knew the answers to and found new ways of expressing those answers. Even as I write this blog post, I see where I could improve on my next project proposal.

If you are writing a book, try writing a project proposal for it. Even if no one asks for it, the exercise will help you see where your book fits in the market. Marketable books sell. Whether you choose to self publish or use a traditional publisher, writing a researched project proposal will be good for your book and for the chances you have at selling it.

Let me know below what you learn. Or drop me a line on my contact page. I’d love to learn from your experiences.

I want to thank this executive editor for asking for my proposal. I hope you want to publish Paige and Webb. And while you decide and take it to your acquisitions meeting, I’m going to be honing my presentation and my book. Your request has taught me a lot and if it doesn’t work for you to publish this book, then I’ll look forward to sending it out again.

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