Step 7 Right Game Plan

As I work on organization and craft, I start a publication game plan. My usual objective is to sell the proposal to an editor at a publishing house. I know I have several alternatives, however. I can sell it myself. I can sell through an agent. Or I can self-publish. The choice is an important one, because how I go to market later with the book depends on it.

To my mind, using an agent is the best way to go if you want the imprimatur of a traditional publisher. Agents know the market. They know the editors. They know how to negotiate. They know how to advise you on how to win. The only problem is that it can be hard to get one. If you’re in this boat, talk to everyone you know who has used an agent. See if you can get an introduction.

What I include in my proposal is central to how I plan to sell my book. Acquisition editors don’t mainly make decisions based on my ability to sell in person; they make them based on what I deliver in writing. I have to show them I can deliver bookshelf-quality goods.

Another element of my plan is a pitch for my book. The package to the acquisition editor includes a cover letter including the pitch. When I go to my agent, I supply her with the language for the pitch.

Step 7: The paper trail continues
In this seventh step in the Stairway to Earth, I spend as much time as on all previous steps combined.

  1. Book proposal: I draft the rest of my proposal. I include sections on the market for my work, competing books, my positioning in the market, my credentials, my promotion plan, and my bio. I then use my outline to summarize each chapter in a provocative way. One thing I always work hardest on: a discussion of platform.
  2. Pitch letter: I often come up with language from abridging and fine tuning my précis. By now, I’m able to pitch myself precisely, persuasively, and passionately.

Finishing this step is a huge accomplishment. I always feel not only like I have a writing plan but a business plan. Have you written a proposal before? How has it gone for you? Join the conversation on my blog..

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