Thursday morning I attended an amazing BlogHer session where other blog enthusiasts and myself learned about book proposals. A popular question that went around the room was…
“If you were to write a book, what would it be about?”
Stefanie Wilder-Taylor of stefaniewildertaylor.com and author of Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay: And Other Things I Had to Learn as a New Mom and Naptime Is the New Happy Hour: And Other Ways Toddlers Turn Your Life Upside Down talked to us about how she took her blog “Baby on Bored” and turned it into a book.
Kathy Cano-Murillo of craftychica.com and author of Waking Up in the Land of Glitter and Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing talked to us about her experience getting her books published for the first time.
(Book Proposal: Craftychica.ning.com)
Below are some of the notes I took during this session. Please note some of the text/paragraphs will seem a bit all over the place, but know that the information provided is very useful for anyone trying to start their book proposal.
Blogging for ten years, several craft books. Two novels that are out, fiction and non-fiction.
How my 1st book deal came about?
- Started working on her craft columns. Got picked up.
- Always think big. THINK BIG. Go rockstar with what you are doing.
- Never did I think about a book dealer contacting me. I had two book dealers contact me. Turned down the first one, and went with the second.
- An editor contacted me, and they gave me a small advanced.
- While I worked on that book idea I taught myself how to do a book proposal.
- They came to me first.
The take away from that is always try to look ahead, be ahead of the game, to be one of the first people to get contacted first. Thinking ahead. Take that time to look ahead, think of your blog as a book. (Kathy Cano-Murillo)
- Look at your blog not as one book, look at it as a series. Look at them as they can be part of a series.
- You have to have a back up plan, plan b, plan c, plan d. Take the information that is given and work on a new proposal.
- Keep going have a different idea.
- 9 books did not come easy for me. Take the rejections and freshen it up.
- Enthusiastic desperation.
- Think ahead of time of people you would want to get a book blurb.
Marketing and Promotion:
- Target audience: who is going to buy this book. Add all the benefits of who is going to read this book.
- The series potential. Where you see it spinning off to.
- Include all contacts you have, television, online, who you would ask to blurb your book.
- Your one shot deal under the spotlight, it can’t be passive, it has to be firm. You have to will them to buy it.
- Anything that has gone viral in your blog posts, that is an excellent shoe in, saying you are an expert.
Ask yourselves these questions:
Why does the market need this book. What is new and fresh?
Go to the bookstore, see what they did?
- I was a television writer, a working tv writer, game shows, writing the jokes for Hollywood Squares.
- I was also on Hollywood Squares, when I was 21.
- After I had a kid, I can’t imagine working as a television writer. People don’t care that you have a kid, especially your job.
- I started a blog just to blog, to have an outlet. I wanted to connect with people. This will be a way to find like-minded people.
- Try to be really good friends with Chelsea Handler or someone important.
- I sent my first babyonbored.blogspot.com post, The Cult of Mommy.
- The next day I got a call, from Chelsea Handler’s book agent. Be a yes gal.
- Think about all the bad writers out there who are published.
- Think about all the horrible writers that are out there.
- I wrote a bunch of essays, it was really hard. I had to write full long essays.
- Can you write a parenting book? I said yes, absolutely.
- Can you write about potty training? Yea, why not. (I have a 4 months old, what do I know about parenting.)
- I wrote a book about parenting and I researched.
- I found an agent, because I was proactive.
- I was told you need to write a book proposal, and it was hard.
- It is important to write a proposal in your own voice. Be you. Write like what your blog is, who are you.
- Sometimes it can help you that your book is really different.
- Any agent is going to want to know more about your platform: How many twitter followers you have, how many visitors.
- You should figure out who’s your audience, the more specific you are the easier it is for an agent to contact you.
How do you sell yourself as an author for your blog? You have to think outside. Work any angle that you have. You are not going to get stuff unless you ask it. (Stefanie Wilder-Taylor)
- Self publishing is an awesome way to go. A lot of people do have the idea that unless you are published by a real publishing house you are not published.
- My publishing company said that everyone said no, I got myself on the Today Show. Then all of a sudden, my publishing company took interest in marketing and took all the credit of getting me on the Today Show.
- Most books are not going to do well. You will get an advanced, but are going to be able to live on 20K per year?
- There are so few people that make a living out of it. Think realistically.
- If you want to self publish you will need a platform (Blog, public speaking)
- You will get at least 75% of the profits as a self-publisher.
- How are you going to sell your book? Do you have a website, do you have a brand?
- Get people to blurb your book.
- Make yourself sound great, make yourself sound like something people will want to read.
Stefanie Book Proposal review:
- When you do your comparative titles: You don’t want to point out a best seller, point out books that did fine, did ok.
- State why your book will be different?
- My chapters did not have enough. A couple of paragraphs will suffice.
- This proposal bought me a two book deal.
- I tried to keep jokes in it.
- I did a sample chapter
- Don’t try to cheat and write your shortest chapter.
- For a memoir, it would be good to do Chapter One, instead of the last chapter.
- Make it specific to what people are saying.
- Keep in mind that most publishers, they don’t know that you are promoting something that doesn’t have a large audience. Like Podcast, include everything.
Q: Kathy, did the sales about that book, impact your second book? What was your advanced for sales?
Answer: I was an author for hired. The first book, it wasn’t a crafty chica book.
Q. Is the blog seriously a launching platform?
A. It all comes down to captivating content. A lot of variables involved, but it ll comes down to good content.
Q. Is self-publishing the way to go?
A. Kathy -There’s a lot of factors in that you can go either way.
Stefanie – if you have the opportunity to publish with a house, then you should, and then self-publish your second book.
Q. Do you have to have those images lined up?
Kathy A. It depends on the publisher, some publishers have their own photographers, others I ask for you to have your own photographer and send it to the publisher for approval.
Q. How were you teaching yourself to how to write a book proposal?
Kathy A. Went to the bookstores, asked others for samples. Did a lot of research, went online. The whole thing was to paint the picture full color to what it would look like.
Q. Is there a difference between having written the book or writing several essays
A. It depends. For a non-fiction, it takes a book proposal, full table of content and outline. It’s good for you, because you’ve given them everything. Be specific. With Fiction you have to have your whole manuscript. No book proposal for Fiction.
Q. Either one of you took what you’ve written in your blogs and made it into the book.
A. You have to work harder to do it that way. We did it later on.
Q. Do you think it’s better to brand yourself as a blog or as your name?
A. it’s a hard one, because I started as baby on bored. It is better for people Googling me as Stefanie Wilder. It depends, you have to see how people respond. If you are not a celebrity then there’s no reason to use your name. Your blog is how you find your platform, find your people, but you have to figure out what your book is.
Q. Do you feel like you are transparent with your readers?
A. Being transparent for something like that, lets them know that you are interesting. Publish in other places on the web. In the byline, mention that you are writing a book. Put it out there.
Q. When you (Stefanie) lost your agent to pursue his new career, how did you find your next agent?
A. There’s a lot of different ways to do it. Went to some book and favorite writers. In the acknowledgement I found this agent and contacted them directly. I sent them my stuff and we started working together. You are going to get rejected a lot, it doesn’t mean you are a bad writer. Agents are so specific in what they want. Target an agent.
Q. What comes first the book proposal or the agent?
A. The book proposal. Probably you’ll need a book proposal to get an agent. Agent will most likely say, I would love to see your book proposal.
Q. Once you’ve finished that book how raw can that be?
A. Don’t send anything that you would not be proud to see published. The editing should be as good as you can make it. They want it to be a good as possible, with little corrections. You have to do it right the first time. You can always expect for it to change after acquisition.