Authors often ask me about the “Resources Needed to Complete the Book” section of the book proposal. My thinking has always been that there’s no reason to include it. An author’s advance will reflect the publisher’s estimate of how many books they think they can sell and how much competition there is from other publishing companies.
After going on instinct for the past few years, I decided to ask an agent and make sure I was on track; maybe I was wrong. I asked New York literary agent Rita Rosenkranz for her take on the issue. Should you include resources needed to complete the book?
Rita said, “I discourage authors from including this in a proposal because, if an author needs only $2,000, for instance, the publisher might low ball the author’s advance. It’s obvious from some proposals that it will be expensive for the author if a lot of travel is necessary, let’s say, and a publisher might factor that in when deciding on the work no matter what the author’s stated needs.”
When you send your book proposal to an agent, this section is unlikely to be on their radar screen. And when your agent sends your book proposal to publishers, you want to rely on your agent’s selling savvy to get you the best advance possible. It just isn’t to your advantage to put expense numbers into the mind of the person reading your book proposal.
Get my free ebook: 10 Tips to a Book Proposal Publishers Will Love.
Have a book proposal question? Ask away or read this article which includes several links for other posts on tips to write specific sections of a book proposal: How to Write a Book Proposal.
Great Information. When talking about about hiring a publicist within the promotion plan of a proposal, is it required to state how much you will spend on one?
That’s a great question. If your budget is large ($25K or more, I’d mention it, but if it’s smaller, I’d probably just say that you will hire a publicist and not give a budget).
While literary agent Michael Larsen (in How to Write a Book Proposal) recommends providing a publicity budget if the number is high, I thought I’d ask around and see if agents look at the issue similarly. It turns out, there is some difference in preference among agents.
Rita Rosenkranz said this:
“This might not be standard among agents, but I don’t expect authors to pledge a publicity budget up front because I ultimately want their own campaign to complement the publisher’s campaign, and that may or may not benefit from a freelance publicist. My best-selling work in 2009 made the list without the help of a freelance publicist. The in-house publicist for the book is top flight, and the author’s Web presence is solid. I think it’s more useful for an author’s proposal to make clear how he or she has cultivated the intended market for the book. May I recommend a book I represent, GET KNOWN BEFORE THE BOOK DEAL by Christina Katz? This covers the topic expertly.”
Having read Christina’s book, I recommend it as well: it’s an excellent resource to help you develop your platform. Bottom line: A solid platform always holds more weight with agents and publishers than any size publicity budget.
Suppose I have a social media presence, i.e., I know how they work, but I haven’t developed one specifically for my business. In fact, because of the nature of my current work, I don’t use my full name, etc. publicly. Does my social media platform need to be fully established before I query agents &send out my proposal? My initial plan for the book was to continue with my current job until I’m ready to “go public,” i.e., launch & do media promotions! Can I have a compelling proposal without a demonstrable social media presence?
Lisa Tener says
That’s a great question, Grace. And the answer is: it depends. It’s always best if you can demonstrate a strong platform. If you can’t demonstrate anything, publishers usually will be leery of signing you on as an author, because they don’t know how well you’ll be able to market the book–and most authors have to do the majority of the promotion and marketing themselves.
I would encourage your to find a way to build your platform–perhaps you can blog under a pseudonym for now? And use that for twitter as well? Blogging might be great for you in establishing your expertise. If you want, you can even just start by interviewing experts in your field and using twitter to support others who blog in your field as well as your own blog.
Bonnie Leonard says
I have a question that emerged from your Book Proposal Class that proved to be so helpful to me. You informed us that these proposals now require an Executive Summary at the beginning. As I understood you, this summary is essentially a condensed version of the Overview. My query is whether the language in the Executive Summary should be different from that of the Overview.
That’s a great question, Bonnie. I asked literary agent Jeanne Fredericks, who suggested that you don’t need to make the language, “much different in an executive summary other than being more succinct and a bit more factual and powerful in tone.”
Jeanne also suggested, “Using streamlined devices such as bullet points also are more common in the executive summary.”
Of course, I like to use bullet points throughout a proposal, but the executive summary might have even more of them.