Saturday, May 30, 2009

How NOT to Pitch Your Book Proposal

One of things that is fun whenever publishing people get together is to listen to the "crazy stuff" portion of their conversation, when they play, "Try to Top This!" The crazy stuff is the stories of all the funny, poignant, sad, silly and downright mental stuff that comes across their desks, phones, faxes and e-mail.
Mike Hyatt shares some of these in his latest blog...

How NOT to Pitch Your Book Proposal
by Michael Hyatt

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In 30 years of book publishing I have heard it all. In the spring of 1987, I received a book proposal from a man who was predicting that the Rapture would happen before November (the 40-year anniversary of the founding of Israel).
He said, “Since I will be gone once this happens, I wish to assign all my royalties to my brother-in-law who is not a Christian.” I kid you not.
I replied, “Being Christians ourselves and being convinced by your proposal, we don’t believe we will be around to publish your book!” I never heard from him again.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only crazy stuff I’ve heard. In fact, I probably get at least one proposal a month that makes me shake my head in disbelief.
Therefore, let me save your proposal from a one-way trip to the trash can. If you are trying to get a publisher (or an agent) to take your proposal seriously, there are at least ten things you should never say:
1. God told me to write this book.
2. God told me to contact you.
3. My book is destined to be a bestseller.
4. My book is perfect for Oprah.
5. My book is very similar to [insert the name of the latest mega-bestseller].
6. There is nothing like my book in the marketplace.
7. This is a multi-million dollar opportunity. I hope you are smart enough to see it.
8. I will only share my book idea with you after you sign a confidentiality agreement.
9. I don’t care about the money; I just want to help people.
10. You probably won’t publish my book, because most of what you publish is fluff.
If you want to write a good query letter, start by reading The Writers Digest Guide To Query Letters. Then just apply a little common sense.

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