WRITERLY WISDOM: Tina M Cho

Tina

 

Here is another post in my WRITERLY WISDOM series I first ran back in 2013. Five years later, I’ve updated the material and made sure it still applies to today’s writers. My next guest blogger, Tina M Cho, is a dear writerly friend and the author of many nonfiction books so who better to tell us how to write a strong nonfiction proposal?

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How to Write a Nonfiction Proposal

By Tina M. Cho

 

Thank you, Donna, for having me on your fabulous blog! I just finished writing a nonfiction book in which I had written the proposal. In fact, the way I pursue and write a proposal might be slightly different from others.

I was taught by a wonderful mentor, Nancy I. Sanders, who showed me how to get a book contract BEFORE you write the book. And so before I even write a proposal, I send a simple query to the editor to see if they are even interested in my topic. Why bother researching for several months if editors aren’t interested? Furthermore, I select book ideas that will fit in with a publisher’s existing line of books. After I hear back from the editor that yes, they’d like to see a proposal on a certain topic, I reply by saying I’ll send them a proposal in a month or list a date. This way of querying before writing the proposal is a good way to get published. This book may or may not be near and dear to your heart, but it’s a way to get published and build your resume. I’ve written three books this way and have one more being seriously considered.

So once I get the green light to write the proposal, I do the research on my topic for the book. From there, I write the proposal package. I’m calling it a package because a proposal is more than one item. A proposal consists of the proposal itself, a table of contents (TOC) or book outline, and sample chapters (1-3). For all of my proposals, I only wrote one sample chapter but very detailed TOC’s. You’ll want to check the submission guidelines for the publisher you’re targeting. Sometimes they have very specific guidelines.

Now I’ll explain the seven components of the actual proposal document. Other web sites will have the same information but maybe in a slightly different order. This is what works for me.

Proposal

  1. Overview

This is the introduction to your proposal, the overview, general summary and essence of your book. You want to hook the editor by showing why your topic is relevant and important. My overview sections have been 3-4 small paragraphs. Why did you choose this topic? Is it popular right now? Is it in the news? Here is where you can give a tiny bit of historical information if needed as well. The next little paragraph can show your passion and excitement for the topic. Why is it important to you? And lastly, what can your book offer or do for people?

For example, for my proposal The Girls Guide to Manners and All That Good Stuff, which is forthcoming from Legacy Press Kids, I first gave an overview of how the topic was popular and in the news as Prince William and Kate were getting married. I noticed many articles on etiquette. Even Barbie came out with a movie about etiquette. And universities have added etiquette/manners classes! So I used those as a background and hook. Then I told my passion of why I thought this topic was relevant. My own daughter could use a book about it, along with other girls her age. (This book idea fit into the publisher’s existing line of books.) And my last paragraph explained what this book would have to offer to the specific audience, who are 8-12 year-old-girls.

  1. About the Book

This is just a small paragraph explaining a little more about your book and target audience. What components will be in your book? Will each chapter have crafts, activities, recipes, or stories? This is where you can hint at your general plan and make-up of the book.

The Need

This is where you explain in 2-3 small paragraphs why your book is needed in today’s market. Does it correlate with Common Core Standards? Does it fill a need? Share the research and show or prove why your book needs to be published. You can also share statistics or demographics of your audience if need be.

For one of my proposals, I discovered that no other books existed on the topic for the target age level audience.

  1. Competition/Market

You need to list titles, authors, and publishing information about comparable books to yours. Use the search function in Amazon or Barnes and Noble and find comp books. Even though there might be many on your topic, an editor at another publishing house might say, “Hey, this is a popular topic for school, and we need one in our catalog, too.” However, after listing the comparable books, write a sentence explaining how your book is unique and different from the ones listed.

  1. Promotion

How can you help promote the book? What do you already do? Blog? Twitter? Facebook? Book Reviews? Speak? Share your platform of what you already do and maybe list statistics of how many followers. Perhaps you already are an expert on this topic and lecture or speak about it.

  1. About You

Here is where you list your bio, credentials, other published works, and why you should be the one to write this book. If the book is about science projects, and you’re a former science teacher, then show the connection!

Summary

This is just a 1-2 sentence summary of the proposal. For example, “I look forward to seeing the potential “Title of Book” out in the market someday so that it will [whatever need it will fill or offer to do for people.]

After you write the actual proposal, you’ll need to sketch out a book outline or table of contents. How many chapters do you envision? Give a sentence summary for each chapter and then list detailed points for the components of each chapter. In my experience, the more detailed, the better. If the chapter involves activities, crafts, recipes, or other things, then name them. Tell the editor exactly what the reader will be doing. This makes you as a writer more knowledgeable and organized. And, having a detailed TOC helps for when you later go back to write the actual book after the proposal has been approved. This could be a couple months to a year!

And lastly, write your sample chapters and make sure they follow your book outline. When you have your proposal package ready, follow the directions on your publisher’s web site and either snail mail or email it to the correct place. I hope this has been of some help to you all! Best wishes on your future proposals!

Tina

 

Tina is an author of 25 guided reading books from Lakeshore Learning and Compass Media.  A coloring book, God Is So Good, from Warner Press was published in 2013.  Three nonfiction books are forthcoming from Legacy Press Kids.  She is a former elementary teacher who currently homeschools her 5th grade daughter and 2nd grade son.  Though she grew up in Iowa, she is now living outside of Seoul, South Korea.

Website: http://www.tinamcho.com

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: I’m A Loser, Are You?

loser.jpg

 

When I was growing up, I stayed on the outside edges of society. I was labeled a LOSER and it was a name I bore all through my school years. Kind of a harsh road to travel and at times, I wondered what it would be like not to be considered a cast off?

But, as I grew older, I began to wonder if those things which made me unique…which set me apart of those around me…were actually gifts to set me on a path few were willing to travel? What if all the dreams and visions swirling in my head, just begging to come out, weren’t the bits of magic I might share with others?

And when I returned to my writer roots in 2011, I began to see the label LOSER in a whole new way. I discovered a caring community of fellow writers, editors, agents, and publishers waiting to welcome me. They travel this path to publication with me and lift me up when I feel weak. But just as importantly, I found a world of readers waiting for the stories I was eager to share with them. They let me know when I have done something right, and they also let me know when I need to start over.

Now, being a LOSER stands for something more to me…

 

Lucky
One
Surrounded
Every day
      by
Readers

 

And THAT is good enough for me. How about you?

 

lunadar

(Buy at Amazon)

 

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of Lunadar. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne.

But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song.

With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of Lunadar at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

 

donna

 

International best selling, award winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), ebook edition, is now available from Amazon.

 

 

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Ryan Heshka

Monster-Town

 

Title: Monster Town
Author/Illustrators: Ryan Heshka
Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books
Ages: 4 to 8

 

Synopsis:

 

As soon as the sun sets on Monster Town, creatures of all kinds go to work. So hop on the Ghoul Bus and see for yourself. But be warned, it can be a bit scary out there!

 

Why you should read it:

 

I like how picture books give young readers a chance to visit other worlds and MONSTER TOWN is no different. Mr. Heshka provides a wonderful play on words as we travel through the streets after dark to see how the other side lives. Full of familiar faces, everyone will smile to discover what their favorite Halloween characters actually do whenever they aren’t out trick or treating!

Like-O-Meter Rating: 5 out of 5…grab it!

**Rating scale**
5 out of 5…grab it!
4 out of 5…think about it.
3 out of 5…take or leave it.
2 out of 5…maybe not for you.
1 out of 5…forget about it!

 

lunadar

(Buy at Amazon)

 

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of Lunadar. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne.

But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song.

With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of Lunadar at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

donna

 

International best selling, award winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), ebook edition, is now available from Amazon.

FLASH FICTION TUESDAY: Dragon’s Breath Island

mtns.jpg

 

Now on Tuesdays…at least for the foreseeable future…welcome to Flash Fiction Tuesday. In case you don’t know what flash fiction is, it is an extremely short story (sometimes created in 100 words or less) with a beginning, middle, and an ending.

But in my case, I write flash fiction with an open ending. I allow my readers to draw their own conclusion as to what happens. This week there is smoke rolling off Dragon’s Breath Island…
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Layla tightened her vest before tucking her sword in the double wrapped belt and scabbard tied at her side. All she needed were her boots and she would be ready. The villagers said she was crazy. No one had ever gone to Dragon’s Breath Island and returned. Well, knights had returned but never alive. And now Layla thought she would be able to fight the dragon all on her own. 

Quickly saddling her horse, Layla took the path through the forest leading down to the water. She wouldn’t allow herself to give in to the what-ifs that might happen. The loch was calm today, a good sign the gods favored her crossing. Her father had taught her to command a boat when she was knee high to a grasshopper and the oars felt at home in her hands as she rowed straight for Dragon’s Breath Island.

The morning sun was just leaving the horizon when Layla saw the coastline. True to it’s name, smoke curled around the cliffs at the water’s edge and ended halfway up the mountainside looming above her. Dragon’s breath. Layla almost expected to see flames shooting from the caves dotting the cliffs as she reached land and pulled her boat on shore. Saying a quick prayer for the gods’ mercy, Layla slowly began to climb the path leading to the largest cave on the island and home to the dragon…

Now it’s your turn. What happens next? Will Layla meet her destiny on the island? Will the dragon win? Join in the fun and add a comment below…

***************

lunadar

(Buy ebook now on Amazon)

 

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of Lunadar. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne.

But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song.

With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of Lunadar at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

 

donna

 

International best selling, award winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy) from Story Catcher Publishing ebook edition is now available at Amazon and other online retailers, with the print edition coming out late fall 2018.

 

 

AN INDIE AUTHOR’S JOURNEY: Who Would Have Thunk It?

thunk.jpg

 

I’m delving into the world of indie publishing. Some authors go the quicker route and use a source like CreateSpace or Kindle Direct to immediately get their books out there.

There’s nothing wrong going that route, but I’ve decided to take a different path.

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I’ve spent the past six months caught in a huge learning curve when it comes to publishing.  As file after file is kicked back from IngramSpark due to different issues, I have been forced to learn the finer points of indie publishing. It’s been challenging and at times frustrating, but I’m proud of myself for not giving up. I finally thought I had everything straightened out as of last week.

My book cover looked good, except for the fact it was a bit darker than I would have liked. I made some corrections to the interior file and sent it off 
Friday, thinking easy peasy…a quick approval from IngramSpark and I’d be on my way.

But of course I should have remembered we are talking about MY life and nothing ever comes easy…

Apparently now my interior file is secretly reverting BACK to 8.5 X 11 even when I’m saving it as a 6 X 9 file.

On its own.

Behind the scenes.

Without my knowledge.

So, here I am back as square one trying to figure out how to change my Word document to a PDF file that will convert to a 6 X 9 PDF file and STAY THAT WAY!!

God help me, I’ve had the patience of Job these past six months, but boy, do I need a break! Anyone out there that can help me?

IngramSpark customer service is fabulous (thanks for all your help, Theresa), but they don’t handle this type of issue on a day by day basis so she really couldn’t help me much.

So it’s back to the drawing board.

I’m soooo stressed over this!

Yep, that’s how I feel…lol…

 

stressed.jpg

 

lunadar

 

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of Lunadar. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne.

But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song.

With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of Lunadar at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

Author Profile Pic

 

International best selling, award winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), ebook edition, is now available from Amazon.

WRITERLY WISDOM: Amanda Luedeke

blogs-marketing-2646804_960_720.pngHere is another post in my WRITERLY WISDOM series I first ran back in 2013. Five years later, I’ve updated the material and made sure it still applies to today’s writers. Amanda Luedeke, Vice President of MacGregor Literary Inc provided a post for this series covering what an author platform is and how to effectively market their manuscripts.

 

The Art of Author Marketing
By Amanda Luedeke, Literary Agent

 

Marketing has become one of the biggest obstacles that any author will face. Great marketing ensures book sales and a solid marketing plan or platform can impress any publisher.

But let’s face it. Most authors aren’t the marketing, sales-y types.

I come from a marketing background. Before working as an agent, I worked at an agency outside of Chicago and launched blogs, YouTube Channels, Facebook groups, and strategized apps for some pretty major clients. So when I transitioned to publishing, I immediately realized that I was holding a very coveted gem…the gem of understanding and “getting” marketing.

For well over a year now, I’ve blogged about marketing on the agency blog (www.chipmacgregor.com). Every Thursday, I debunk Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr or SEO or blogging…and I’ve found it to be well received.

But I realized people wanted more than my posts. So, I wrote THE EXTROVERTED WRITER: An Author’s Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform.

It’s the perfect little e-book for:
· The published author
· The unpublished author
· The author looking for marketing ideas
· The author looking for marketing advice
· The author looking for marketing reassurance

But most importantly, it’s the perfect little book to help you go from being an introverted, “I-don’t-know-how-to-market-myself,” to an extroverted, “I’m-confident-I-can-market-myself” writer.

Check it out on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords (for all other ereader devices).

Now, I’m here to answer your marketing questions! In preparation for this post, we pulled some thoughts and queries from you readers. SO, get ready, here are my thoughts on your most pressing author marketing questions:

When is the best time to begin marketing a new book?

You want to have your marketing plan in place about 6 months before release. To schedule blog appearances, speaking engagements, radio interviews, etc., it takes time. So, it’s best to chip away at it over those six months. But the idea is to have things hit the month your book releases (preferably after release).

How are some ways a new author can market their debut book?

Since it’s your first book, you’re going to have friends and family ready and willing to do whatever it takes to help the book succeed (You won’t get this with any other book you do!). All debut authors should take advantage of this excitement and form a street team to help create a buzz about the book. Use your street team to share on Facebook, Twitter and more. Guest post on their blogs, and get them to place bookmarks or promotional materials at their local coffee shops, doctor’s offices, libraries, etc. Remember, a street team of even 20 can be 20 places at once.

If you could only pick one social media site to promote your book, which one would you choose and why?

Personally, I’d choose Facebook, but I know of many authors who swear by Twitter. At the end of the day, you need to zero in on the social media channel that best connects with YOUR audience. Blogs, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, Goodreads…Figure out where you have the most fans (or the most potential fans) and set up camp.

What one piece of advice can you give an author who knows nothing about marketing?

Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. What would make YOU shell out $15 for a book? Then, do what you need to do to meet that need for your potential readers.

What’s one thing you see missing from websites or blogs that would greatly impact attracting new followers?

Most websites and blogs are dead zones. The authors do nothing to cultivate relationships with their readers. There’s no personal interaction, there’s no way for readers to feel part of things. If you can foster a community among your readers, that’s a powerful thing.

Do blog tours really help sales of a debut book?

Typically, no. Typically, blog tours target the same old blogs that have the same old readers of those blogs. The successful tours are the ones that are put together from scratch. So, instead of approaching the same blogs that always appear in tours, an author would approach blogs that typically don’t participate in such things. This is how you get your book in front of new readers who are likely to be pleasantly surprised that you’ve stopped by their blog for a chat.

What’s the worst marketing thing an author can do?

The worst thing is for an author to either be too passive or too aggressive. The passive authors typically wait for their publisher or agent to tell them what to do. Consequently, nothing gets done. The aggressive authors end up being blocked by readers online because they’re ALWAYS doing the hard sell. Both will kill your career.

Hope this was helpful!

 

amanda

 

Amanda was a 2006 graduate of the acclaimed Professional Writing program at Taylor University, and she brings a background in marketing and advertising to her agent role. Over the years, she has kept one foot in the marketing world, working with brands such as Vera Bradley, Peg Perego, Tecomet, Do It Best, Minwax, Pratt & Lambert, HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams, and more.

She met Chip at an author signing in a Barnes and Noble in 2008. After realizing they had a commonality in Taylor University, one thing led to another, and before she knew it, she was helping him with projects, research, and all the little stuff she now assumes he just didn’t feel like doing.

Promoted to the role of agent in 2010 and then vice president in 2018, Amanda is currently focusing on nonfiction and Christian spirituality projects with a sprinkling of fiction.

She released her author marketing book The Extroverted Writer: An Author’s Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform in 2013.

Though she considers the Chicagoland area to be home, she currently lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with her husband, son, and two dogs.

 

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: Take Pride In Your Pride

pride.jpg

 

It’s human nature to want to belong to the pack. Practically hardcoded in our DNA to seek out social interaction from the day we are born. Animals feel it too. The urge to become part of a larger group, even when it results in a pecking order. Lions are known to live and hunt in groups called prides. Guided by the wisest alpha male, these prides of lions can maintain generations of family members through tight bonds and familiar relationships. This writing community is like that pride of lions.

We take care of the new cub writers and help them assimilate into the larger group. Through nature and nurture we welcome our newest members into the community. We smile at their first hesitant steps because we well remember our own first steps on this path to publication. We nudge and encourage until one day we see those new writers begin to grow into their writer’s voice.

Wisdom comes with time and lessons are learned along the way. Soon those newbies aren’t cubs anymore, but young authors who carve their own path in the writing wilderness. Sometimes they challenge the leaders of the day with various outcomes, but it is done for the greater good of the group and leaders can change with the seasons.

I look around this writing community and realize I am no longer that newborn cub who gazes in wonder around her. I am a member of a pride of writers who are fiercely loyal to their own. I am still young on this journey and have much still to learn. I am comforted by the knowledge others are watching over me. Ready and willing to lend a helping hand and offer words of support as I grow into the writer I was meant to be. Take pride in your pride for nowhere else will you find a family quite like this one.

Run with the pack and enjoy the ride…unless, of course, you are that lone wolf with something to howl about…

 

wolf.jpg

 

lunadar

(Available now as ebook on Am

azon)

 

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of Lunadar. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne.

But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song.

With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of Lunadar at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

 

Author Profile Pic
International best selling, award winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), ebook edition, is now available from Amazon.