In the same way that homeowners invite estate agents to produce documents that help sell their properties, a proposal offers publishers the opportunity to peruse your story’s strengths and consider the attractions of attaching themselves to it. In addition to outlining the story itself, a well-executed publishers’ proposal explicates what makes it unique, while identifying the market/s in which your title could thrive.
In an increasingly competitive market place – an overused phase, I know, but a painfully accurate one in the writing business, as in so many others – a project needs to really stand out in order to persuade a publisher to invest in it, especially when taking into account the numerous competing titles it has to choose from. Even publishers which seek proposals from agents alone are used to receiving floods of submissions, so those accepting work from unrepresented writers are likely to consider thousands of stories each year. That’s part of the reason they can often take so long to get back to you.
A good way of really emphasising why a publisher should invest in your manuscript is the inclusion of a sample chapter or two in your proposal. While the cost is greater, but not prohibitive, sample chapters give publishers a real flavour of what they could be buying into; and, of course, are the most important part of your story – your words and the manner in which they are woven together, your characters, and how skilfully you are able to hook your readers.
Your opening chapters are the ones your readers will be leaping into, and it is your job to scatter a trail of breadcrumbs for them to follow. Opening chapters also underscore the importance of hitting the ground running – if you fail to enthuse readers in the first few chapters, chances are they’ll bail out on you and choose another story to take them on the kind of journey others have failed to convince them to complete. This, I believe, is especially true of fiction, and reminds me of an analogy I read many years ago: when your readers pick a book up and start flicking through its pages, they are metaphorically stepping into a taxi. The meter’s ticking, the reader’s time is the currency employed, and your job is to keep them in the cab until the journey ends.
So, if you’re thinking of approaching a publisher, seriously consider doing so via a proposal. At United Ghostwriters, we have a variety of experienced, skilled and approachable writers ready to help you achieve your goals and climb the authorial ladder. For more information, visit: http://www.unitedghostwriters.co.uk/book-proposals/.