Tag Archives | non-fiction

Writing Book Proposals

Write-hand-writing-20106-lI've spent the summer writing book proposals as well as reviewing them.   Call it synchronicity, or serendipity, or whatever you want, but I have been immersed in book proposals. 

And I've learned a lot.

I thought I knew a lot about writing book proposals before (she said modestly), but now I know even more.  So when a couple of writers asked me when I was going to offer the Get Your Book Proposal Written Now class again, I figured this was a good time.

Actually, October will be a good time, when I'm back from my upcoming workshop/retreat in France. (I'm also planning on writing from Ceret.  I'll post links here, but they'll be up at the retreat website.)  

But I put the link up now, in case you want to plan ahead.  And the first three people to sign up get a free coaching session with me to discuss your idea for a book.  Cool, huh?

Here's the deal with book proposals: you need to write one if you want to pitch a non-fiction book to traditional publishers, because that's how non-fiction is sold.  (If you're writing a novel, dream on if you think you can sell it before it's finished.  Unless your name is John Grisham or Jennifer Weiner, you can't.) 

And even if you plan to publish your book yourself, its a great idea to write a proposal, because it lays out everything you'll need to know to write and promote the book.  So it's a great big huge no-brainer to write one either way.  And I shall tell you how.

So, please, check it out. The page has a lot more info on what I'll cover and how we'll do it.

And do tell: are you writing fiction or non-fiction?  Which is your favorite?

Photo by blary54.

0

How Many Projects Should Writers Focus on at a Time?

Photoxpress_2677927Lately I've been cursed blessed with an abundance of ideas.  I've got viable ideas for three mainstream novels and at least six ideas for novels to write in a new genre I'd like to experiment with a bit.

As a professional writer, I'm accustomed to juggling projects.  I'll often have an ongoing ghostwriting project (just finished up one), perhaps a shorter business project or two, coaching clients, students, and my blog, not to mention my own work on fiction.  This suits me well, as I'm a fickle type, who gets bored easily.  When I have a variety of projects to work on, I can go from one to other and keep my interest and engagement level up at all times.

However, most of what I've mentioned above is non-fiction. I can't recall ever working on more than one fiction project at a time.  Okay, wait a minute, when I was getting my MFA, I wrote a novel and also worked on several short stories.  So that technically counts.  But what about writing more than one novel at a time?  Is that even possible?  Seems to me the process of writing a novel is so absorbing, so all-encompassing that it might not be advisable.

I do know that in the past when I've had several ideas for novels at once, I've flitted back and forth until finally one idea became so consuming that I dove into it without looking back.  So my theory for the moment is to stay open, realize what a gift this is, and allow myself time to explore, with the idea that one idea will rise to the top and grab me without letting go.

So, do tell.  Do you work on more than one idea at a time?  How do you balance multiple projects?

PS.  In case you hadn't noticed, it's December.  And December means the holidays.  And the holidays mean I'm in a good mood.  So it might be worth your while to come back here next week.  Just saying.

Photo from Everystockphoto.

12

The Ghostwriter’s Booksigning

I went to a book signing for a book I wrote the other night–only another person, a kind doctor, signed the books.  The cover of the book features his smiling face and this same image graces the posters that were propped all around the store.

But it would be impossible for you to find even the merest mention of my name anywhere near the book.  Why? Because I ghostwrote it.

Allow me to define ghostwriting for those of you who may still be confused about it (in my travels I find many who are).  A ghostwriter (moi) writes a book for someone else and that other person’s name appears on the book.  If I’m very lucky, the “author” might thank me in the acknowledgments.  On some occasions, ghostwriters get a “with” byline.  As in “Stupid Worthless Memoir by Famous Vacuous Star with Ghostwriter.”

But most of us ghostwriters get nada but a paycheck.  Which is why we do it, of course, because ghostwriting can be among the most lucrative of writing assignments.  You are writing a whole book, after all, not just an article or series of articles for a website.  You are expected to know how to take bunches of information, perhaps some interviews, and vague thoughts and organize them into a readable, informative book.

A great number of business and self-help books are ghostwritten.  Ditto with celebrity biographies and so-called novels.  (You really think Nicole Richie has ever read a novel, let alone written one?)  Rumor has it that some popular mystery series are actually ghostwritten and many readers believe that some of the most prolific romance writers employ ghostwriters to help them churn out the novels.

I can’t verify those rumors, though I suspect they may be true.   I also suspect that many novelists have learned their craft churning out books under the name of a best-selling author.  But I think I prefer to stick to non-fiction.

To my way of thinking, non-fiction ghostwriting projects suit me just fine.  I enjoy learning about different subjects and getting into the mind of the person who I’m writing as.  

Last week was the first time I’d ever actually experienced a booksigning where the “author” of the book was signing what I wrote. 

I had a blast, met a lot of nice people and reconnected with the folks who hired me.  The thing is, I don’t feel the emotional connection to the book that I would with, say, my novel.  And while I’m proud of the finished product, I’m not so invested in it that I can’t let it go.

We’ll be starting the next book in the series soon and I’m looking forward to attending future book signings.  I wish I could give the book some publicity and send you to the website, but alas, then it wouldn’t be ghostwritten anymore, would it?  (And let me tell you, the whole ghostwriting thing wreaks havoc on the old resume, since I can’t really blatantly list all the books I’ve written.)

Fun as this book signing was, I look forward to the day when I’ll be signing my own novel at a book signing!

0

Call for Submissions for Christmas Anthology

My good friend and colleague, Linda Busby Parker, is starting a new press!  Her first publication is going to be a Christmas anthology and she is accepting both fiction and non-fiction submissions for it. 

Linda is the author of Seven Laurels, which is a wonderful book that you should read, and she's one of the best fiction teachers I know.  She's a mentor at the writing program I direct, and she also teaches at colleges in and around Mobile, Alabama.  All this by way of saying that I know she's going to put together a great anthology.  I'm in the process of adapting a chapter from my first novel to submit at this very moment.

The guidelines follow.  Email Linda if you have questions, or contact me and I'll forward comments to her.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

In search of well-written Christmas stories (fiction or non-fiction) for a new annual anthology, Christmas Is A Season: 2008. This anthology is being published by Excalibur Press and will be available early November, 2008. Short stories or works of non-fiction should have a Christmas theme and range between 700-5,000 (maximum) words in length. The deadline for submissions is September 20, 2008. The non-fiction pieces should take the form of a personal essay. Both fiction and non-fiction submissions should express some aspect of the spirit of Christmas: the meaning of Christmas; the religious significance of the season; the spirit of giving and receiving; peace; the meaning and importance of family at Christmas; Christmas charity; Christmas from a child’s point of view; the hustle-bustle of Christmas; the humor in the season; the sadness in the season; decorating for the holidays; the family feast; the Christmas blues; or any subject related to Christmas and what Christmas means or has meant to you. More than the narration of a single incident, each piece should tell a story, a complete narrative with an arc—building to a climactic moment and a falling away from that climactic moment in some form of resolution. The anthology will be paperback with a beautiful four-color cover.

What: Christmas stories (fiction or non-fiction) for a new anthology titled, Christmas Is A Season: 2008 to be released by Excalibur Press, early November 2008.

Word Limit: The stories and personal essays may range from 700 words to a maximum of 5,000 words. Longer pieces should be tightly edited and should offer considerable payback in terms of the quality and punch of the story or essay. (In longer pieces, every word should be essential!)

Deadline for Submissions: September 20, 2008.

Editor: Linda Busby Parker, Ph.D., MFA, author of Seven Laurels (a novel), winner of the James Jones First Novel Award and The Langum Prize for Historical Fiction.

Address for Submissions: (Submissions should be mailed via U.S. Post Office)

Excalibur Press

3090 Dauphin Square Connector

Mobile, Alabama 36607

Contact Information: excaliburpress@msn.com

In compensation for the short stories or essays published, each contributor will receive one copy of the anthology, Christmas Is A Season: 2008. Each contributor will also receive a price reduction for each copy purchased.

4