You don’t have to care, but here are some reasons why I love writing proposals.
It is a powerful–and very helpful!–thing to know why you wrote a particular piece. To be able to summarize why your specific work is a benefit to the market and audience is an honor. Perhaps even better, it is a tool to help the writer focus on what is important. It helps to redirect and refocus, avoiding unnecessary story tangents that could be unappealing to agents or publishers.
It’s also very interesting to see what similar works are available in the specific drama. Where would you fit into the sea of sales on Amazon? What can you, as an individual child of God, offer through your time, creativity, and thoughtfulness? How can you uphold the genre even as you strike out on your own with your own characters, plot lines, settles, etc.?
Then, how do you want the world to view you, the author? How would you write your own back cover blurb, detailing a brief biography to a general browsing public? Pardon my introspection, but it’s sort of like seeing what character you yourself are. How will the writing persona present itself?
Then, depending on the genre, there’s either an outline and sample or the whole kit and caboodle. Still, no matter how much you attach, this shows both the overarching structure of the piece and the substance of both content level and writing style. Powerful stuff, these excerpts! And, powerful stuff, these proposals!
I’ve been fortunate to mostly follow my dad’s proposal format: Introduction, Market, Bio. Some places now have guidelines or forms. Either way, I encourage you that, if you really want to publish–traditionally or otherwise, write a proposal. Summary your project in one sentence. Summarize the need and make an intelligent argument supportive of your work. Include nuances that set your work apart (Then add them into your book if needed! ;)). Next, write about the market, perhaps those you emulate (since you may want someone else’s market!), and those you want to challenge. What makes your project different and worth publishing? Include a brief professional bio. Generally, I recommend less than a page for each of those three sections. I often aim for two pages total, not including writing sample.
Am I a publisher? No. Is this some sort of expert advice? No. But I do love to help people with their proposals when I get a chance. I actually get a thrill from proposals. These proposals are the first writing samples an agent or publisher will see! It’s like an interview in itself!
If nothing else, I think they are excellent writing exercises, brain teasers, and focus honers. They are a break from the manuscript itself, but also a serious investment into the background and foundational work for it.
Oh, heavens! I just realized I apparently like paperwork! lol
Obviously not everyone will share my enthusiasm. Still, why I love writing proposals is also tied in to why I love to encourage you to write. Writers get such great opportunities to build off those who have come before us. We can aim for the heights while looking right at the people and situations right around us, taking them into account. We can be passionate and also professional! We just have to learn how, practice our “pen on paper,” and embrace spell check.
Writing is a good thing in life. It’s hard, sometimes heartbreaking, but it’s good. 🙂 Who knows, maybe you will love writing proposals, too!
Wishing you well!