Archives for industry insight

For many people, submitting a non-fiction book proposal can be a daunting task. If you spend some time searching for tips, the process might get even more confusing, as you run across contradicting advice and varying guidelines.

I can’t speak for any other publishers or agents, but this is what I’m most interested in seeing:

  • A detailed outline of the entire book, and a full sample chapter.
  • Market/competitive analysis: What are the most similar books to what you’re proposing on the market today? Before you answer, “There aren’t any!” please take a deeper look. Find 2-3 titles that are similar to what you’re proposing, and tell us why your title is different. Why is your topic timely? Who is your anticipated audience?
  • Describe your current platform, including any social media presence or other connections that will enable you to reach a wide audience. Do you have a blog? Facebook page? How many fans and followers do you have? What is your web traffic like? If you haven’t started your author platform, what are your plans and specific timeline to start building one?
  • What tactics are you willing and planning to take on to promote your book?

Thanks, and happy writing!

Your latest novel or screenplay is progressing well.  You’ve established the main and supporting characters.  You’ve created the basic plot, and have plenty of ideas for scenarios to paint in order to tell your story.  But how can you develop your characters, and your story, to be compelling – to draw the reader or viewer in – to connect and really believe in the story?

Stanley Williams has a few tips for you, tips that are tried and true per his clients in Hollywood.  The author of “The Moral Premise: Harnessing Virtue and Vice” insists that the most compelling stories (be it fictional books or screen plays) are those in which a character’s behavior and motives align with real-life morals and values.  Focusing in on the “psychological and moral premise” of your story, and developing it according to the guidance in “The Moral Premise” is the recipe for success, according to Stan.

Want to learn more?  Purchase the book, or attend one of Stan’s workshops or seminars.  Get down to the business of making your work of fiction a great success – and may your premise be moral!

What happens when you meld an author and a computer programmer?  Innovation!  (And wouldn’t “The Medici Effect” author Frans Johansson be proud?)  Simon Haynes is a published sci-fi author who has a few decades experience as a programmer.  His worlds collided and a word processing program called yWriter was born.  yWriter helps authors break their writing up into sections (think chapters or scenes), while also tracking their work.  Much like software programs comprise numerous modules of various functions, yWriter breaks writing up into drag-and-drop-able scenes, chapters, characters, and more!

The latest version, yWriter5, is available as freeware (though, happy users can register their copies if they wish to support Simon).  Detailed installation instructions are provided for Windows, Linux and Mac platforms.

A favorable review of yWriter was featured on CNET several years ago, and one novelist praised yWriter even compared to commercial softwares with similar functionality.

Oh, and while this word processing tool was created with fiction writing in mind, it’s applicable to everything from playwriting to non-fiction.  Now go grab your free copy – happy writing!

It’s nowhere near November, a.k.a. “National Novel Writing Month,” or NaNoWriMo for short, but I was thinking about it today, and while many literary agents (or so I’ve heard) despise the month and its subsequent onslaught of not-yet-ready submissions come every December 1, it really is a great way to force yourself to get that first draft on paper, which is possibly the hardest part. (Well… let’s just say the first of many hard parts).

What NaNoWriMo can do for you:

1. Force you to turn off your inner critic and just write

2. Make your story shape up, fast, even if you didn’t know where it was going

3. Give you lots of street cred with your friends. From turning down that after-work drink because you’ve “got to work on your novel” to, for the rest of your life, being able to say you wrote the first draft of your novel in a month. Street cred, people, street cred. Never mind the fact that it wasn’t published until 5 years, 7 rewrites and 467 rejections later. Leave that part out. You wrote 50,000 words in a month! Suddenly Mt. Everest is looking a lot more doable.

What NaNoWriMo can’t do for you:

Leave you with a coherent first draft. It might be shaping up nicely in your head and sort of make sense on paper, especially after a glass of wine, but expect a lot of work to follow. Possibly years of work. But if it’s a good project, it’ll be worth it.

Don’t forget, March is coming up, and that’s NaNoWriMo’s smart sister (brother?), National Novel Editing Month (or NaNoEdMo). Enough with the silly abbreviations, already!

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