Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Book Proposals: My Descent into Madness, Okay More Madness

By J. C. Lynne 

I'm in a dark, dark place. Not a dark writing place. I'll shout from the rooftops. I've killed forty thousand words in the last two weeks. Good words too. On two different projects. My writing mojo is on fire!

The dark, dark place I'm in? The fresh hell of a book proposal. 

The Slippery Slope.
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Book proposals are typical of, but not limited to, non-fiction projects. For all intents, it's a business plan for your book. Book proposals are used by agents and editors to sell your project. Book proposals outline non-fiction projects, sometimes before the book is ever written. 

A book proposal outlines the why, the how, and the what of your book. It's about salability and marketability. Two terms that make me a little nauseous. At the same time, I'm not alone in the desire to have a million dollar best seller, am I?

Book proposals are one part resumé, one part job application, and one part market research. No wonder I'm in Hell. I've spent the last week researching markets, demographics, and consumer spending. So much fun. 

My Head Is Ready to Explode.

This is not why I'm a writer. Writers manifest ideas and dreams. We construct worlds and make sense of the insensible. We do not think about marketability and bookstore shelves. Okay, we might think about those things, but in general, we're creative types. 

Make no mistake, a book proposal isn't going to help if the writing isn't strong and compelling. And yes, the book should probably be complete or mostly complete. 

Thing is, my project seemed like a good idea when I started. I have the concept. I have the credentials. I have the words. I even have a couple of agents interested in seeing the proposal. 

All of this marketing and research is messing with my head. I'm spinning down the hole of Do I know What I'm Talking About. I'm tumbling down the abyss of What Makes Me Think I Have Anything Anyone Would be Interested In Reading. It's leading me square into the Land of Crippling Self-doubt. 

The other dark corner looming ahead of me is the submission process. The land of crippling self-doubt is not a good starting point for the submission process. If you've submitted anything, you know of what I speak. 

Book proposal and imminent rejection aside, just finishing the book is a monumental exercise in demon wrestling. Become a writer, they said. It'll be fun, they said. 

Here's the deal and you're gonna hear it at the NCW Conference over and over, you have to move beyond the fear. Throw it the bird and walk right on past. Even if an agent says no, you're no worse off than you were before you made the effort. And what if, what if the next submission is the one agent who says hell yes. 

Buckle up.


Nancy Riley said...

I love this post. As a yet-to-be-published writer, it's good to get the support to face your fears, move on, and keep writing. I just received my first magazine story rejection two days ago. My reaction, I submitted another story to them. One of my special friends said when I told her of my rejection, "You don't get rejections if you don't submit anything." It's like the lottery, you won't win if you never play. Thanks so much for the advice. Nancy

JC Lynne said...

Nancy, I'm getting ready to drop my third novel and it never gets easier. I love your gumption....keep on keeping on! And humble thanks for reading!

Laura Mahal said...

Oh, the land of crippling self-doubt. I've visited that place once or twice. Still washing its muck off my boots, actually.

You've got this, JC! A little more coffee, wine (or whine, whichever seems relevant at the time), and the support of fellow writers and you'll soon leave that horrid land of darkness and despair.

Madness, now, that you might want to hang on to . . . It keeps you interesting. :-)

JC Lynne said...

Wine. A lot of wine. ;) Also someone keeps promising me booze....just saying

Nancy Riley said...

My husband makes homemade wine! We could have a party!

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