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Pushing for the proposal

Guest post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess

In a perfect world — just like with the love of your life — a book publisher or potential blog sponsor
Picture1 would knock on your door, drop to one knee and ask you if they could publish your prose or sponsor your online words. Well, in the I-want-to-be-published world, this doesn't happen. You have to be the one to pursue the publisher, sponsor or advertiser of your dreams. You have to be on your best behavior and cross your fingers, hoping they will accept you into their family and you will publish happily ever after. 

There are some steps you can take to make that happen. While seeking a sponsor for, or advertiser on, your blog is different from locating a publisher for your book, there are some universal truths.

Ways you can move yourself toward the relationship of your writing dreams:

  1. Is there a need — a market, a cadre of readers — for the book you plan to write? Does your blog fill a particular need or niche that a sponsor or advertiser can get behind? If, for example there are 1001 books about "How To Housebreak a Dog" your proposal for a book on the same topic needs to really set itself apart from the pack. Does it? If there are 1001 books on the market, or blogs in the Internet on the same topic, point out to the potential publishing partner that you are aware of this fact and show why yours is unique.
  2. What's your elevator pitch for your project? When you're putting together your proposal you need to work up a hook — just as the proverbial hook in fiction, your proposal needs one as well. As an editor, I can tell you that with the stacks of manuscripts and queries that come across my desk, I (and many other editors with whom I have spoken) will tell you if you don't hook us in the first 25 seconds, we will move onto the next proposal in the stack. 
  3. Who are your readers? Yes, I know I wrote about the market but drill it down further to who will read your book, ie where can you market it? Is it a book about housetraining puppies? Are your readers dog breeders? People in waiting rooms at the vet's office? Dog trainers? Let the potential publisher know where and  how you will get the book into the reader's hands. 
  4. What are your credentials? If you've never owned a dog in need of housebreaking, then chances are this is not the book you should be writing. If you have credentials and training in advanced housebreaking (I know, I know, no such thing) then note that in your proposal. Do you have a new and improved method of housebreaking that works in 15 minutes or less? Great! Tell the publisher about it. Have you worked with satisfied customers? They will want to know. 
  5. Talk about the format of your book/blog. If this is a critical part of the process then note it. As an example, if you're writing about "How to grow grapes on your NYC apartment terrace" and your book will include photos and recipes, the publisher will want to know that — it is a selling point that could set it apart from the competition. 
  6. Testimonials. Will your book have rave reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers who have used your housebreaking techniques? Great. They want to know. 
  7. Grammar, grammar, grammar. It doesn't matter how amazingly fantastic your proposal is if you have typos, grammatical errors or other cringe-worthy items in your proposal. Don't, for example, send a proposal for a dog book to a cat publisher. Don't look for a dog food company that uses meat in its formula as a sponsor for your "how to live with a vegetarian dog" blog. 

While this post hardly scratches the surface of what goes into a proposal when seeking a publishing partner or a blog sponsor, it should give you a starting point to pull your information together. We will discuss this more in depth at the BlogPaws 2011 conference at my Saturday morning seminar session. 

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