Thursday, January 03, 2008

How to Write a Novel Proposal

First, let me say that I've discovered there really isn't just "one way" to write a fiction proposal. One writer's style might not work for everyone. When I was crafting the proposal for my novel Thicker Than Blood, I included these elements, all double-spaced:

  • Three sentence logline ... think what you'd see on a movie poster.
  • Brief synopsis (1 page) -- pretend you're writing the back-cover copy of a novel. Write this like that.
  • Marketing considerations (1 page) -- compare your novel to what's already out there.
  • Target audience (1 page) -- shows the editor you're thinking in marketing terms.
  • About the author (1 page) -- if you don't have clips, that's okay. Are you a teacher and your main character is a teacher? Mention this.
  • Series potential (1 page) -- shows the editor, again, you're thinking ahead and don't plan to be a one-book wonder.
  • Full synopsis (6 pages) -- tell the whole story like you were talking to a friend. Don't leave out the ending!
Not all of the sections filled each page, but I separated them anyway.

Several books I recommend for writing a fiction proposal:
Also, Terry Whalin's Book Proposals That Sell, though geared for nonfiction, will teach you how to think like an editor.

More Resources:
  • Randy Ingermanson has an example of a successful fiction proposal on his website in .pdf format. It was the one he and John Olsen used for Oxygen, which was later published by Bethany House. Click here.
  • Also, literary agent Chip MacGregor has an example on his website (also .pdf) of Sandra Glahn's novel Informed Consent. Click here.
  • Literary agent Rachelle Gardner has a great post on her blog describing the details as well. Click here.
Authors, editors, agents ... what do you say?

1 comment:

Rachelle said...

Thanks for the link, C.J. Great information here. It's true that there are many ways to write a proposal, and editors and agents aren't picky about the exact format as long as it gets the job done. I think it's helpful for writers to have overviews like the one you give, so they can have an idea of how to get that job done. Good book recommendations, too.