Yesterday I received news that a promised contract arrived and news that another proposal had been rejected. In reality, the current contract is all I can handle well so that’s okay with me. But there’s a story behind the responses and reasons why the contracted book received a comment from the editor, “This is the best book proposal I’ve seen this year.”
As a member of CAN I’m often hearing news of acceptances and rejections friends receive. That’s normal in this industry. The acceptances increase as authors gain experience and learn to market better and write better.
The rejection centered on a book proposal submitted months ago as a book for parents to read to preschoolers. However the editor wanted changes. It went from my idea to an early reader book and kept jumping age levels. That meant re-doing the proposal. Somehow in the end the proposal didn’t really match the samples and nothing seemed well-focused. I needed to take more time to rethink it all each time I made a change. The last time I did something quick as a draft and asked if it would fit the need, but it went on to committee without changing the proposal of any feedback.
On the flip side, the other proposal began with a short verbal exchange between an editor and myself. The editor suggested I try to write something in their God and Country line. I responded that I’m all about the family and instead of writing about a war I’d like to try writing about what happened on the home front during the war. He liked the idea. As I considered the project it seemed too large to do on my own so I asked someone who had written in that line to team up. She had an outline of a previous proposal and that gave us a foundation.
I’m a military wife and mom and descendant of American revolutionary soldiers, so the home front is something close to my heart. I began with a quote I found by Abigail Adams that expressed alll the assorted emotions of a military wife. That expressed the purpose of the book so weel that we built the proposal around it.
These days marketing is so important and to give authority to a nonfiction historical work endorsements are also very important. Being connected to the military for more than 30 years gathering endorsements was easy. My co-author also had a long list of potential endorsers from the books already written.
We also had connections to many groups of potential readers (military, history buffs, and home school groups). Everything started to come together. We also had to divide wars into how many weeks needed to cover each one and write samples. I chose a story from the American Revolution. I knew a story from a friend (descendant of the main person I wanted to write about) and could drive to the area, visit a historical library, and homestead of the woman.
The more I worked on the proposal the more focused it became. The pieces fit together from outline through marketing ideas.
So what can I do about the rejection? When I have time again I can look it all over and decide what it should be. I can figure out if I should go back to the original concept or if I should proceed with an early reader but work on pulling it together to be more focused. I also want to read an upcoming book on writing early readers (by Nancy Saunders) and study that more. It’s not time to toss in the towel, but an opportunity to regroup and refocus. I’ll study and pray for a while before I work on it (it’s probably a year out for now).
Some tips on making a proposal wow an editor:
- Be very focused and clear about the book idea.
- Write or find a quote that best expresses the needs of the target audience.
- Focus on great marketing strategies that will reach the target audience via where they live and read.
- Contact potential endorsers that are in touch with the readers or bring authority to the book (not just authors as they are promoting their books-but people who care about the topic and will spread enthusiasm for your book).
- Be passionate about what you are writing and let that flow into the sample pages.
BTW, the new book’s working title is Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage From the Home Front of American Wars