So, having made some successful pitches to book editors last week, I’m now in the position of having to put the final polish on two book proposals.
It. Is. Not. Fun.
And it makes me think that book proposals really do have a lot in common with marriage proposals. In both cases, you tend to go into it a little starry-eyed, thinking “Wow, if I can just get a ‘yes,’ I’ll be soooooo happy!”
But there are more similarities than that.
Let’s face it, both book proposals and marriage proposals are kind of a hard sell. You have to hit the highlights. You have to know how what you’re offering compares to similar options on the market. You have to promote yourself. And you have to do all of that while feigning confidence that you’ll be able to work through any bumps in the road and still deliver something good—probably on a much smaller budget than what you expected.
Probably the main difference between book proposals and marriage proposals is that there’s no way that a book proposal is going to get an immediate yes or no. Once you send it in, you need to prepare yourself to wait. And wait. And wait. Weeks will go by. Sometimes, months will go by. Earlier this year I got a rejection from a publisher that I had submitted a proposal to so many months earlier that I had completely forgotten I’d sent it to them. That did help take the sting out of it—at least a little bit.
There is one other important difference between book proposals and marriage proposals. With book proposals, it’s a good idea—a really good idea—to have more than one proposal to shop around. I have three proposals for three very different books. I would be happy to do any one of them and I hope eventually that I can write and publish all three books, even if it means self-publishing.
But for now, I’m focusing on making these two proposals as good as I can make them right now and sending them on their way. Because in the end, whether you’re proposing a book or a marriage, all you can do is give it your very best effort.
And, for god’s sake, remember to spell-check!