Sell your book the easy way --- sell a proposal
You can get paid to write a book. It's easily possible to make a fast $10,000, or even a six figure amount. You could even make seven figures --- over a million dollars for twenty pages of text. It sounds incredible, but a fast seven figures is certainly possible if you have a HOT, hot idea or have had an experience that hundreds of thousands of people want to read about. In his 2001 book about writing non-fiction, Damn! Why Didn't I Write That?, author Marc McCutcheon says that it's not hard to make a good income: "you can learn the trade and begin making a respectable income much faster than most people think possible".
The good part is that you don't need to write your book before you get some money. You write a proposal, and a publisher will give you an advance, which you can live on while you write the book.
Writing a proposal is the smart way to write a book. It's the way professional writers sell non-fiction. Selling a book on a proposal is much easier than selling a book that you've already written. A book proposal is a complete description of your book. It contains the title, an explanation of what the book's about, an outline of chapters, a market and competition survey, and a sample chapter. A book proposal functions in the same way as any business proposal does: you're making an offer to someone you hope to do business with. It will be treated by publishers in the same way that any business treats a proposal. A publisher will read your proposal, assess its feasibility, cost it, and if it looks as if the publisher will make money, the publisher will pay you to write the book. When you've sold your proposed book to a publisher, your role doesn’t end with writing your book. You’re in partnership with your publisher to ensure the book's success. If you do your part, both you and your publisher will make money.
You and your publisher: a partnership
The publisher's business is selling books. The company acquires books which it hopes will sell, and sell well. Your publisher is putting up the money to publish your book, so you need to approach the project from his point of view as well as your own.
We haven’t got the space to go into great detail about the publishing business here, but you need to know about "returns", because the challenge of returns makes publishing different from other businesses. Publishers sell books on consignment. Publishers ship books to bookshops, and if a book isn’t sold within a certain time period, it's destroyed. The bookseller strips the cover from the book and sends the cover to the publisher for a full credit. This is the "return". If a title doesn’t sell, the publisher takes a beating. As you can imagine, publishers are no more keen to lose money than you or I.
What does this mean to you as you write your book proposal? It means that your proposal needs to emphasize the ways in which you, as the writer, will take responsibility for the book's success.
You will try to ensure the success of your book by gauging the marketplace. You will work out who the likely buyers of your book might be, and the reasons they will have for paying good money for your book. You'll assess the competition for your book. You'll work out ways in which you can promote your book, so that people hear about it. You're in partnership with your publisher, and if you're prepared to take responsibility for that role, the publisher will be much more likely to buy your proposal.
Why write a proposal first?
All non-fiction books are sold on proposal. A book proposal is much easier to sell than a complete book.
Here are some of the reasons:
• It's easier to read a 20 or 30 page proposal than a 400 page book;
• It's easier to make changes in the book's concept at the proposal stage;
• With a proposal, the publisher, in the person of your editor, can take
ownership of the book. It's like bespoke tailoring: the editor feels that the book has been specifically written for the publishing house.
Even if you decide to write your book first, you'll need to create a proposal once you've written it. No agent or publisher is interested in reading an entire book to assess its viability. That's the proposal's job: to ensure that your book has a niche in the marketplace. As you do your research for the proposal, you'll work out whether or not your book is likely to sell. You can shape the book at the proposal stage, much more easily than you can when it’s a huge stack of print or a giant computer file. Sometimes you may get an idea for a book, but the idea is amorphous, it doesn’t have a real shape. You may want to write several thousand words to see whether the book becomes clearer in your mind. But write the proposal before you write more than ten thousand words, because your book must target a specific group of buyers.
How do you write a book proposal?
You write a proposal step by step. In this ebook, we'll work on your book proposal together. Each chapter has tasks for you to complete. Once you've completed all the tasks, you'll have a book proposal which has an excellent chance of selling.
Here's what we'll cover:
• (Day One) Getting an idea for your book.
• (Day Two) Developing the idea and expanding on it. Assessing the market.
Who needs this book? What's the competition for the book?
• (Day Three) Writing the blurb. Outlining your book.
• (Day Four) Researching your book proposal, and fleshing out your outline.
• (Day Five) Writing a proposal query letter. Sending your query letters to
agents and publishers. (You send the queries while you're working on the
proposal. This helps you to gauge reaction to your work.)
• (Day Six) Writing the proposal.
• (Day Seven) Writing the sample chapter. Revising your proposal.
I'll be including a sample of a book proposal for you to look at, so you can see what material the proposal contains. This proposal garnered an agent contract the first time
I sent it out. I'll also include other samples, so that you have plenty of templates from which to construct your own proposal.
How to use this ebook
First, read through the book, to see what information it contains.
Next, work through the book, chapter by chapter. As you read each chapter, do the tasks and the exercises in the order in which they appear. Doing them will help you to write not just one, but many book proposals. Remember, the primary aim of this book is to help you write your first book proposal and be well on the way to selling it by the time you've worked your way through all the chapters.
It's vital that you concentrate on getting the words down on paper. As long as you have something on paper you can fix it. As we work through the material, I'll be encouraging you to work FAST and not think to much about what you're writing. Thinking has no business in your first draft. Thinking comes later as you rewrite.
Can't devote a week to writing your proposal?
If you're on vacation you can set aside a couple of weeks to work on your proposal. But what if you don't have a vacation due? Easy! You can fit writing into your busy life. You'll still follow all the steps, but it will take you longer. Try to stick to a set schedule. You may decide that you'll complete a chapter a week, for example.
Work fast. Work on your book proposal EVERY DAY, even if you only have five
minutes to spare. This is because at the beginning, ideas are fragile. Time spent with your proposal each day helps you to build and maintain your energy and your enthusiasm.
Day One: What’s a book proposal? Get an idea for your book
Day One Tasks
Task One: Look over four non-fiction books
Take your notebook and visit a bookstore. Skim four non-fiction books of the kind which you hope to write. Check the number of pages, the table of contents, and
chapter length. How are these books written? Are they written in a casual, tongue-in-
cheek style like the For Dummies series? Do they include lots of anecdotes and
personal information about the author?
In your notebook, write down each book's title, author, publisher and year of publication. Also write down anything you find interesting about the book. Scan the acknowledgements page to see whether the author thanks her editor and her agent. Make a note of their names if she does. (These people may be interested in your proposal if it covers a similar subject area.)
Task Two: Work through the Idea Generator exercises in this chapter
Read the Idea Generators, and do at least three of them, even if you've already got an idea for your book. Working through this material is important because it will give you confidence that you it's easy for you to find as many ideas as you need.
Task Three: Create a computer folder to hold your working files
Create a folder on your computer to hold all the files for your book. As you work, you'll generate many files. Create sub-folders as you need them.
Task Three: Create a Work Log
Create a file on your computer as a diary for this project. Paste all the information you gather while searching the Internet and while communicating with others in this log. Date each entry. If you need to leave your project for a few days, you can read your log to get back into the groove of your project.
What’s a book proposal?
A book proposal is a business document which convinces a publisher to buy your
book before you've written it. Your proposal says, in effect: "Hey, I've got a great idea for a book which lots of people will want to buy. Do you want to publish it?"
Think of it as a combination brochure and outline of your proposed book.
There's a standard format of material that your book proposal will need to
cover. This doesn’t mean that you need to hew completely to this format. It's just a guideline of topics your proposal must contain.
Your book proposal must contain:
• A title page, with the title, subtitle, author, word count of the completed book,
and estimated time frame for completion. You might state: "75,000 words,
completion three months after agreement".
• An overview: a description of the book. This can be as short as a paragraph, or
several pages long.
• The background of the author. Your biography, as it relates to your expertise
for this book.
• The competition in the marketplace. This is where you mention the top four or
five titles which are your book's competitors. (Note: if there are dozens of
competitors for your book, this is a good thing, because it means that the
subject area is popular. Your book will need to take a new slant.)
• Promotions. This is where you describe how you will promote your book, both
before and after publication.
• A chapter outline.
• A sample chapter, or two chapters. This is always the first chapter, and if
you're sending two chapters, it's the Introduction and Chapter One, or if there's no Introduction, it's Chapters One and Two.
• Attachments. Optional. You may want to attach articles you've written about
the book's topic, or any relevant supporting material.
Got an idea for your book? Great!
If you already have an idea for your book, that's great. Please work through the
material in this chapter using your current idea, or join us in developing new ideas.
Open a new computer file so that you can work through the exercises as we progress.
Start here to develop an idea for your next book
There's nothing mysterious about coming up with ideas. Within a page or two, you'll have more ideas than you know what to do with. Your ideas start with YOU. When you think about what you enjoy, about your past experiences and your knowledge, you're guaranteed a regular fountain of ideas. Let's turn on the fountain.
As you do the following exercises, work through them quickly. Don't allow
yourself to bog down. Do them as quickly as you can, and then go and do something
else for a few hours, to let the ideas gestate and bubble in your subconscious mind.
When you come back, read through the ideas you generated, and add to them as you read through your lists. Please don’t discard any ideas at this stage. This is because the way to a brilliant, fantastic idea is by twisting an idea slightly, reversing it, or by combining several ideas into a new one.
Searching for ideas alerts your subconscious mind that ideas are important to
you. Over the next few days, you may get a nudge from an idea which says: "Write
me down". Do that right away, even if you're in the middle of a shower or you're
driving along the freeway. (If you’re driving, pull over.) Write that idea down,
because even if you're one hundred per cent certain that you will never in this lifetime
forget that amazing idea you just had, believe me, you will forget it. Write it down,
When you stay alert to the idea hovering at the corners of your consciousness you will never be without a book bubbling away. This is how you turn your first book into a long series of books.
First thing in the morning is a great time to generate ideas. Set your alarm ten minutes early, then sit up in bed and jot down 50 ideas.
Idea Generator One: What you're good at
Make a list of 20 things you're good at. Don't think too hard about this. Maybe you're
good at buying presents for people—you've got a knack for choosing just the right
gift. Maybe you're a good cook, or a good parent, or a good swimmer or a good tennis
player. Or maybe you used to be good at one or more of these things. For example: I
grew up with horses, and owned horses for many years. I'm good with horses, and a
good rider. If I saw a gap in the market for a horse book, I'd feel comfortable writing
You get the idea. List at least 20 things that you're good at, or have been good at in the past. For example, if you know you're an excellent gardener, even though you now live an apartment, list "gardening".
Idea Generator Two: Your past experiences
Experiences sell. If you've been abducted by little green men from Mars, it's a book. If you're a bigamist, it’s a book. People have written books about their illnesses (see from challenge to opportunity below), their addictions, and their pets. Browse through the bestseller lists to see what personal experiences people are writing about.
Here's where you walk down memory lane. If you're in your twenties, it'll be a
short stroll. If you’re in your forties or older, it will be a hike. Don't get bogged down with this, list 20 experiences you've had that spring to mind.
The easiest way to come up with experiences is to work backwards through
the stages of your life, or through decades. Again, don’t take a long time over this. Set yourself a time limit --- ten minutes is enough.
Idea Generator Three: Your knowledge
What do you know? Start by making a list of all the subjects you were good at in school. Then list all the jobs you've had - yes, part time work counts.
• Your hobbies. Are you a keen Chihuahua breeder? Do you quilt? Take
• Your current job. What are you learning in your job that other people
would pay to learn?
• The places you've lived. Your hometown may be boring to you, but
guide books sell well.
• Your family tree. What special knowledge do your nearest and dearest
have that you could write about?
Spend around ten minutes writing down as many subjects as you have knowledge about.
Idea Generator Four: What you enjoy most
Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson freely admits that she cooks because she loves to eat. Nigella has turned her love of food into a career. She regularly produces bestselling books. (Her chocolate recipes are brilliant.) What do you love? People have written about garage sales, cosmetics, cars, vacations. If you love something, chances are that thousands or maybe millions of others will love it too.
Watch the newspapers and take note of current trends. Or better yet, listen to what your children are talking about, or asking you to buy for them. Children tend to be well up on what’s happening.
Remember that it will take around two years for your book to reach the
bookstores. Therefore, the currently hot topics on the bestselling lists may be old news before your book is in the stores. This doesn’t mean of course that you can’t write on perennial favourites like money, sex and exercise. These topics never go out of popularity, and a new twist on one of these is always a sure bet.
The idea of writing about what you enjoy is that you will be bringing passion
and enthusiasm to your topic. Enthusiasm is a must.
Idea Generator Five: From challenge to opportunity
You face challenges every day. Most are minor, some are major challenges. If you've ever faced a large challenge, or if you're facing one right now, then consider that the things you learn could help other people. Whatever your challenge is, whether it’s moving house or confronting a life-threatening illness, other people face the same challenges, and in those challenges lie the seeds of books.
Make a list of 20 challenges you've faced in your life. Anything catastrophic
qualifies: losing your job, facing bankruptcy, the betrayal of a spouse. If you've had a
quiet life, then make a list of challenges that the people you know have faced.
Additional challenges you can consider include any habit you've broken, from congenital lateness to overeating.
When you've finished brainstorming, you'll have dozens of book ideas. Winnow out the non-starters. Don't delete them, move them to another computer file. Call it "odds and ends" or "snippets".
Checklist: Is this the right idea for you TODAY?
You've worked through the idea generators, and you have one or more ideas which you feel would work as a book. The next step is to scrutinize your primary idea
Consider your idea and look at this list of questions. See if you can answer "Yes" to all of them:
Am I enthusiastic enough about this subject and my ideas about it to
sell this proposal to an agent and an editor - and to readers?
Will I retain my enthusiasm through the months it will take me to
complete the book?
Is there a market for my book? (I've checked Amazon.com and
bookshops for competing titles. I'm convinced there is a market for my book.)
I can find people with expert knowledge to interview as I write my
Does my book provide solutions to problems?
If you can answer YES to most of these questions, you're set. Great! We're going to start work on your proposal.
Day Two: Develop your idea and assess the market
Day Two Tasks
Task One: Keep studying non-fiction books
The more you know about how non-fiction books are constructed the more easily
you'll be able to work on your own book with confidence. Look at the books on your shelves at home, and at your local library. (Be sure to make a note of any editor or agent acknowledgements.)
Task Two: Develop your idea
Work through the various steps in developing your idea. (See "Simple Steps In Developing Your Idea" in this chapter.
Dispelling myths and a word about confidence
If you're feeling nervous now that you're about to start this project, relax. Tell yourself that you will take it step by step. All you need to do is work at it steadily, a word, sentence and paragraph at a time, and you will complete your proposal, and then when you've sold the proposal, you'll complete your book using the same easy-does-it method.
While we're at it, let's dispel a few myths.
It takes a special talent to write books.
It takes persistence. There are as many different kinds of writers as there are people. Some are young, some are elderly, many are in-between. You don’t need any special writing talent to write books, nor do you need to be highly educated. Many successful
writers have never completed high school. If you can write well enough to write a letter, you can write a book.
Writers starve in garrets.
Many professional writers make incomes that would make doctors and lawyers
envious. Most make reasonable incomes. If you decide to make a career of writing
non-fiction books, the major benefit is that if you choose your book's topic with care, your book can stay in print for many years. For each year that your book's in print, you get two royalty checks. Let's say that you write two books a year for five years. At the end of the five years, if your books all stay in print, you'll be getting ten royalty checks a year. These ongoing royalties are your nest-egg, profitable investments in your future.
It's hard to sell a book.
As long as you research the market for each book before you write as much as a
single word, it's easy to sell a book. Publishers need competent, reliable writers who can produce good books regularly. This myth got started because --- let's be blunt here--- 99 per cent of submissions to editors and publishers are not publishable.
You need to know someone to get a book published.
You need to write a good book to get a book published. That really is all you need to do. I started writing romance novels and they were published by an English publisher. I certainly didn’t know anyone in UK publishing; I live in Australia. If you have a contact in publishing, by all means use that contact. However, it's not necessary. Publishing is big business, and publishers need good books.
Today we'll develop your idea and assess the market
Developing your idea and assessing the market go together. We'll work on both tasks today. The idea of working on both tasks together is that as you read through the outlines of books which cover a similar area to yours, you'll see what's already been published, and you'll get fresh ideas for material that you can cover in your own book.
Note: your personal experience is valuable
As you skim through other people's books, jot down any thoughts and ideas you get. You should make a note of any experiences you remember which you could include in your book. This is because everyone loves a story, so no matter what subject area your book covers, include your own anecdotes. If you're writing a diet book, include funny/ informative stories about your own experiences with diets, or the experiences of your friends.
You may want to use fictitious names to protect people's privacy. You will definitely need to use fictitious names if you can't contact people to ask for permission to use a story or if you think there's a chance that people will be able to recognize themselves from a story you tell that puts them in a bad light. For example, perhaps you belonged to a group of dieters, and you tell a story about another person in the group. Even if this was 20 years ago, and you've given this person a fictitious name, disguise the story: change the person's sex, age, and occupation.
Simple steps in developing your idea
Work on developing your idea step by step. Here's how:
1. Write down everything you know about this idea
Let's say you've decided to write a book on natural healthcare for pets. You own
several dogs and a cat, and are an enthusiast for natural healthcare because it's worked for you and for your friends. Today you're going to make copious notes. You're going to write down everything you can think of which relates to your idea. It doesn’t matter whether you use a computer file, or a pen and paper, sit down and get ready. Ask yourself: who, what, how, when, where and why. Make topic headings for each question. Then answer each question. Don’t try to write in complete sentences, just make notes. For example, if you took one of your dogs to a doggie chiropractor for several years, note down the chiropractor's name, the dog's name, problems the dog had, the number of sessions --- anything and everything you can remember. Also write down what you don’t know, so you can find out. (One of the benefits of research is that you get to answer all the questions you have about a topic.) Take as much time as you need. You may want to work in forty-minute sessions, and then go and do something else for a while. Taking breaks is important. It's during the breaks that your subconscious mind will go to work for you can scan your memory banks to come up with more ideas.
Don’t discard any of your ideas. And write down every idea, no matter how tangential. Your mind works via associations. Therefore, if you get a notion to write down "Phips --- broken leg" write this down, even if it seems that it has nothing to do with natural healthcare for pets. Phips was your first dog, and was hit by a car. This was 30 years ago, and you don’t remember much about the incident. However, after writing it down, you ask your mother about Phips, and she tells you that the little
Corgi was bred by a woman who was into natural healthcare (you didn’t remember this --- you may not even have known it, but somehow your subconscious got you to write it down). You contact the woman, who's elderly, but who's a fountain of useful information, and she provides almost a chapter of information for your book. You'll find that you have many serendipitous incidents like this as you write your proposal and your book.
2. Make a long list of possible book titles
At this stage, you don’t need the perfect title, Healthcare for Pets will do as your
working title. Make a list of 20 title ideas as quickly as you can. (And save the list.) Don't sweat a title. You'll often find that the perfect title doesn't occur to you until you book is completely written. Or, your publisher may come up with a title they want to use.
3. Create a list of contacts
Who could help you with information for this book? Write down the name of
everyone you can think of. Do this quickly, you can look up their email address or
postal address when the time comes to contact them. At this stage, you just want a list of all those people who will be able to help you.
Is there an association of people who might help? In our Healthcare for Pets example, there will be numerous veterinary associations and kennel club associations of people who could provide valuable information.
Create an Acknowledgements computer file. Whenever someone helps you with information for the book, type their name into the Acknowledgements file. People get a kick out of helping an author with a book, and the best way to thank them is to make sure that their name appears on the Acknowledgements page in the book.
Assess the market for your book
1. Visit large bookstores
Start by visiting some large bookstores. Take your notebook and a pen. Copy the Tables of Contents of books that treat the same subject matter that your book does. You will want to make your book significantly different from other books which cover the same topic. If your book is exactly the same as other books on the topic, no publisher will be interested in buying it. However, you shouldn’t be discouraged if there are many books covering the area which you intend to cover. Lots of books mean that this area is very popular. For example, publishers bring out dozens of diet books each year. And there's room for yours, too!
Aim for at least three to five points of difference. This doesn’t mean that you have to come up with all new information. In fact, presenting completely new information is impossible. Sticking with our diet book example, there's only one way to lose weight, and that's to take in fewer calories than you expend. Authors reveal this ghastly news to their readers in many ways. Therefore, it's how you present the material that counts. If you can show readers a new way to diet, and you can prove that your method works, you're in, with a hot seller on your hands.
2. Visit your library
Next, drive to the library. Ask the librarian for Books In Print. This is a multi-volume set of reference books which lists all the books currently available by author, subject and title. Your library may have the books, or it may have the BIP CDs. If your library's BIP is on CD, get a printout of all the books in your subject area. Don't faint if you see an ultra-lengthy list! Several years ago when I was assessing the market for a book on time management, BIP spat out ten-plus pages. I got all the books which sounded as though they might be similar via inter-library loan, and none resembled my book at all. So the fact that there are lots and lots of books means little other than that this subject is popular. This is a good thing! Next check out Forthcoming Books. FC should be available at your library right near BIP. FC lists all those books which will be released in the next six months. You'll want to have the books which are the main competition for your book on hand if possible. You don't have to buy them all. You can borrow them from the library, or if they’re listed on Amazon.com, you can use Amazon.com's clever "Look Inside" technology, so that you can scan the contents pages of competing titles.
Amazon.com is your next port of call. Type the subject of your book into the search query box, and you'll get a list of all those books which touch on your subject area. Print out this list. Having the list handy helps you when the time comes to pick a title.
Read the descriptions, and all the reviews of any books which sound as if they might be similar to yours.
Write a report on your discoveries
Now you've finished surveying the marketplace as it stands for your idea, take the time to write a brief report on what you've discovered. This report is for your own use. Do this right away when it's all still fresh in your mind. It's important to do this, because when you talk to your editor or agent, you'll want to have all the information on the market situation handy. Your report doesn’t have to be long. A page will do.
Day Three: Write the blurb and outline your book
Day Three Tasks
Task One: Write at least three blurbs
Write at least three blurbs for your book: 200 words, 50 words, and 25 words. (See the sample blurbs in this chapter.)
Task Two: Collect sample blurbs
Blurbs sell books. Everyone from the publisher who initially buys the proposal, to the book store owner who stocks your book will decide whether they’re interested in your book based on the blurb alone.
Become a connoisseur of blurbs. Start your own blurb collection. Each time you see a blurb which you think is effective, copy it, and put it into your Blurb File.
Writing the blurb
The "blurb" is the back cover material for your book --- the selling points which will get people to buy the book. If you write the blurb before you write an outline, you're guaranteed not to wander off the track as you write your book.
I can’t emphasize the importance of your blurb enough. If you've been
thinking of skipping this section, please don't. Here are some reasons to write your blurb first:
• it keeps you focused on the theme of your book;
• it makes writing the outline easier;
• it makes selling your proposal easier;
• it will assure your agent and editor that you know what you're doing, and they'll feel comfortable working with you and handing over the advance;
• when you've sold the book, and the time comes to write it, you'll have an easier time because you can keep the blurb at the forefront of your mind.
Your blurb helps your agent and editor to get a contract for you
Your blurb is the "sales story" for your book. If your agent becomes enthusiastic
about your book, she'll become enthusiastic on the basis of your blurb. She'll use the blurb as her sales pitch to other people. For example, when she talks to an editor at a publishing house who may be interested in your book, she'll start with your blurb. The conversation will stop there if the editor doesn’t see the book's potential. Let's say that the editor likes the blurb enough to look at the proposal. If she's still keen, it's her turn to sell your book, on the basis of the blurb, to the other people in the publishing
company. She'll need to convince Sales and Marketing that they can sell your book. If they're not keen, you won’t get an offer.
When you've written your book, your publisher will try to sell your book to
book distributors, and later to booksellers, all on the basis of the blurb that you started out with. So the time that you spend working on the blurb is not wasted, it's the most important part of your book. Without a good blurb, your book will not come into existence.
Having said all that, it's also important that you don't obsess over your blurb. Everything you write can be fixed, so focus on getting your blurb written, in various lengths, rather than striving to make your blurb perfect. Your blurb may well go through many incarnations: you'll make changes, your agent may want changes, and your editors will definitely want changes.
Here are two sample blurbs.
The first is from my book LifeTime: Better Time Management in 21 Days, published by Prentice Hall in 1997. I wrote this blurb while I was working to gather material for the book. It took me around ten minutes to write. You'll often find that as you're starting to work on book, your blurb will come to you as a flash of inspiration. If it doesn’t, don’t worry about it, just follow the process outlined below.
The second is from my book Making The Internet Work For Your Business which was published by Allen & Unwin in 1998. I didn't write this blurb until the book was complete, and the publisher was sending a brief to the cover designer. This blurb took me a long time to write. I also had a lot of trouble writing the book, and I think that if I'd written the blurb before I started, I would have had a much easier time with the book, and would have enjoyed writing it more.
Sample blurb from: LifeTime: Better Time Management in 21 Days by Angela Booth
You're about to meet a very powerful genie. This genie will give you all the time you need to be everything you want to be, to do everything you want to do, and to have everything you want to have --- you are this genie!
LifeTime: Better Time Management in 21 Days shows you how to manage your time so that you can achieve any goals you set for yourself. You'll learn to feel focused and relaxed as you achieve your goals.
Spend 21 days with LifeTime: Better Time Management in 21 Days and in just 20 minutes a day you'll learn to how to:
™ Focus, so that you get more done in less time;
™ Separate tasks into the urgent and the important;
™ Effectively prioritise and delegate tasks;
™ Practise relaxation daily until it becomes a habit;
™ Determine your values, so that you can set appropriate goals; ™ And become more creative.
Each day's reading will give you ideas, inspiration and motivation, as well as simple tasks to help you develop your time management skills.
(The above blurb is around 200 words. Create several versions of your blurb at different lengths --- more on this below.)
Sample blurb from: Making The Internet Work For Your Business by Angela Booth
When you use the Internet for your business you don’t need to wait for customers to come to you because a Web site is a 24-hour sales force to the whole world. Making The Internet Work For Your Business offers clear and practical advice on how to use the Internet to develop your business; how to promote your products and services; how to find vital information; and how to pursue new business opportunities.
This book includes the following features:
™ Introduces online basics and describes the equipment you will need to get your business online and build your own Web site;
™ Offers practical advice on how to expand your business online, including tips on your site's useability, how to market your Web site, and how to boost Internet sales;
™ Provides case studies of how people are using the Internet inexpensively and simply to develop their businesses;
™ Includes a fast-finder directory of useful resources available to businesses on the Internet: company contacts and suppliers; trainers and educators; financial sites; government and legal information; human resources; freebies on the Internet; and other SOHO-related resources.
By using the Internet you can run more business more efficiently with lowered costs, fewer staff, and less space requirement, and have more time to develop your business creatively. Explore the advantages to your business of e-commerce using your Web site as a merchant commerce system that can handle orders, payment and fulfilment via the site.
The above blurb runs to almost 250 words, which is a little long. If I were writing the book now, I would make it shorter and punchier.
The one-sentence version of the blurb is: "Making The Internet Work For Your Business offers clear and practical advice on how to use the Internet to develop your business; how to promote your products and services; how to find vital information; and how to pursue new business opportunities."
Write your blurb in easy steps
Before you start writing your blurb, ask yourself: who will be reading this book? This question is important, because it helps you to picture the reader as you write. Once you have an image of your ideal reader in your mind, you'll find it's much easier to work on your book. Working out who your readers will be also gives you a head start in writing the marketing section of your book proposal.
Let's stay with the book on natural healthcare for pets. Who would be
interested in this book? Make a list. Your list could start with: pet owners who use natural healthcare, companies that manufacture natural petcare products, and veterinary surgeons.
Then go on and create your blurb in the following easy steps.
One: Make a list of the benefits to the reader
Your reader will buy the book because of the benefits the book gives her. Features are different from benefits. For example, you may be presenting recipes for making pet remedies. The pet remedies is a feature. The benefit of the pet remedies could be that they save the reader trips to the vet and money on expensive commercial products. YOU MUST USE THE BENEFITS IN YOUR BLURB.
First list all of the features your book will contain. Then make a list of all the benefits.
Take down three or four books from your shelves, and study their blurbs. Do they list the benefits? How are the benefits presented?
(You'll occasionally find that the author and publisher, not to mention the
publisher's sales and marketing departments, were all asleep when the book was in
production, and the blurb contains a long list of features. Work out how you’d convert those features into benefits. This is excellent practise for you.)
Two: Rank the benefits
Rank the benefits in their order of importance. You may want to get some help here. Read your list of benefits to a friend, and ask how she'd rank them.
Three: Write several blurbs, in various lengths
In addition to your list of benefits, your blurb can contain an intriguing fact, or a short anecdote. For example, if you once saved the life of your pet with a natural healthcare remedy, you could tell this story as part of your blurb.
When you've completed your blurb, in around 200 to 300 words, create shorter versions. Create one of 100 words, another of 50 words, and you can even try to pare it down to 25 words.
Here's a one sentence version of the sample blurb for LifeTime: "LifeTime:
Better Time Management in 21 Days shows you how to manage your time so that you can achieve any goals you set for yourself." As you can see, the sentence is taken from the longer blurb.
Essential blurb add-on: the testimonial
Publishers love cover testimonials, because they know that they sell books. How
many times have you bought a book because someone you'd heard of and respected recommended the book to you? If you know anyone famous, or can get in touch with them, now's the time to contact them to ask them whether they'd be willing to read your book and provide a quote for you to use on the cover.
Outlining your book
Start with a mind map
This is where your blurb comes into its own. You can develop a basic outline from your blurb as a mind map, or cluster diagram. For each book I've written, I've used mind maps. Because a book is long, it's hard to keep the whole thing straight in your mind --- mind maps help you to do this.
Here's a sample mind map for Making The Internet Work For Your Business:
Diagramming your initial ideas of what you'd like the book to contain gives
you an overview, from which you can develop a more detailed outline. Go through all the material you've gathered so far, and insert headings into your mind map. Remember that at this stage, nothing is set in stone. Just work as quickly as you can, don’t think too much about it. You just want to get an idea of how much material you have.
Create your outline
Working from your mind map, create a chapter outline of your book. The easiest way to do this is just to write numbers from one to ten or one to 15 down the page, and type in chapter headings. Most books have around ten to 15 chapters. If yours has more than 15, that's fine.
Only got three or four headings? No matter how little material you have, or
how much, don’t worry. This is the initial stages, remember. Just work quickly so that you get something down on paper. Tomorrow we'll be researching your book, and as you research, you're sure to find many more headings for your outline.
In these very early stages of working on your proposal, your subconscious mind is your greatest resource. Therefore, if you get an impulse to write down something, write it down, even if it doesn’t make much sense to you. The reason you got this idea will come to you.
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