I’m not a perfectionist about everything. Take one look at my desk and that will be way obvious! I am a perfectionist when it comes to how to write a book proposal and how to write a book, though.
1. Branding: Your book sends a message to all readers and potential readers–from the title to book cover to content and punctuation. You want to send a top quality message.
2. Credibility: When I see typos or incorrect grammar in a book it calls the credibility of the author into question. I wonder if the author is truly an expert. And others will wonder, as well.
3. Clarity: If there are grammatical errors in your book, it may confuse the meaning of a sentence or passages. You do not want to confuse your readers.
4. Agents are Busy: Literary agents are some of the hardest working, busiest people on the planet. Many don’t have the time to fix or edit your proposal. They expect you to have done that. I recommend hiring a book editor to make sure you’ve done a perfect job. The first pass is about making sure you understand the elements of a book proposal and that you write each section of the book proposal in a way that is professional and answers all the agent’s and publisher’s questions in a compelling manner. Your overview also needs to stand out and offer a great hook. And every section should be compelling. Here’s an example about how to write the competing books section in a book proposal. And here’s how to write the chapter outlines for a book proposal. That first pass can involve brainstorming and idea generation. The second pass can be more wordsmithing and some additional idea generation if a section is weak. This is often the case for the book promotion section, for instance. Then, edit until it’s perfect.
5. Publishers Expect Perfection: It’s a competitive market. Publishers don’t necessarily have the time and budget to take a shaky manuscript and make it great, even if your ideas and platform are strong. They want to know you are going to make their job easy with a flawless manuscript. They may still want to make changes and incorporate new ideas, but at least they’ll know the process should be fairly straightforward because you will send them high quality work.
Two of my clients e-mailed me this week to say that they have book offers on the table–one of them a six figure deal. I hope you are convinced that when you write a book proposal or write a book, you want to take on perfectionism. Brainstorm, research, edit, proofread, have every section of your proposal (or every page of your book) be compelling–and hire professionals for each part of that process if you can. For a book proposal, a book proposal coach or book proposal editor should be enough, but for a book, I would include hiring a proofreader–which requires a separate skill from other kinds of editing.
Do you have questions about how to write a book proposal? Ask here as a comment and I will answer.