Archive for the ‘Writing Nonfiction Book Proposals’ Category

God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn;
he will never go back on his promises.
Romans 11:29 TLB

  • Do you feel called to write a nonfiction book?
  • Have you been procrastinating because you don’t feel up to the task?
  • Perhaps you’ve begun writing but now you’re feeling stuck?
  • Or maybe you’ve got a completed manuscript, but now what? Should you try and find a traditional publisher, or is indie publishing a better option?

When I finished my first book about 45 years ago (yes, I’ve been writing for a long time), indie publishing wasn’t an option. Back then it was called vanity publishing. Not only was it outrageously expensive, it “branded” the author (but not in today’s positive understanding of the word) as not being good enough to find a real publisher.

Today, because indie publishing is often the best option, the May 16-19 Colorado Christian Writers Conference is offering a 6-hour continuing session on Going Indie.

Cindy Lambert Mar 2015But God’s plan for you may be traditional publishing. If so, a strong book proposal is essential to gain the attention of an agent and publisher. I highly recommend Cindy Lambert’s Nonfiction Book Proposal Clinic. Cindy is the former vice president and associate publisher of trade books with Zondervan. In addition to the six hours she will spend working with six authors on their book proposal, Cindy will meet one-on-one with each participant for 30 minutes. Click here for more information and the needed application. It is due April 16.

Proposal-writing classes have always left me feeling a bit bewildered. Each instructor had their own, different list of “musts,” “dos,” and “don’ts.”  The fog lifted for me after working with Cindy Lambert at CCWC. A delightful and caring mentor, I would have enjoyed her class under any circumstances. But as a teacher Cindy really zeroed in on: WHAT we needed to include in our proposal, WHY that information was important to an Acquisitions Editor, WHERE each section should be shown for optimum effect, HOW to dig deeply to uncover what made our writing stand out in a crowd, and, maybe most importantly, WHO are our readers?  It took my understanding of writing and publishing to a whole new level. ~ Lori Hynson – Phoenixville, PA

A pre-requisite for participating in Cindy’s clinic is her Crafting a Winning Nonfiction Book Proposal early bird workshop on Wednesday from 4:45 – 6:00. This workshop is open to everyone.

Instead of applying for Cindy’s clinic, nonfiction writers have the option to choose six workshops from the 42 offered Thursday through Saturday. In addition, you still get a 6-hour continuing session. Especially recommended for nonfiction writers is Writing Narrative Nonfiction, Your Book Launch Game Plan, or Write from the Deep.

And don’t forget CCWC’s one-on-one appointments. If you attend Thursday through Saturday you are eligible for FIVE free appointments. (The first 75 who registered get SIX.) That’s more than any other conference offers. Five of the six agents on faculty are interested in acquiring nonfiction books and more editors than I’ve got time to count. See the charts below.

Agents NF

Click here to view a 3-page full-size PDF
of all genres agents are interested in representing.

Editors Chart NF p 1.jpg

Click here to view a 5-page full-size PDF of all editorial needs.

Editors Chart NF p 2.jpg

The conference registration fee increases on tax day, April 17. You can register securely online by clicking here. If you’re waiting for your tax return, you can register now , pay a $100 deposit in the next 7 days and the balance at the conference.

Always remember to:

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him to help you do it, and he will.
Psalm 37:5 TLB


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Memorial day

I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

Isaiah 49:15-16 (NIV 2011)

Father, there are so many grieving this weekend for loved ones who gave their lives for our country. Others are struggling with “what if” fears as their loved one serves in a country far from home. And still others daily face the pain of seeing a son or daughter, husband or wife, father or mother cope with a physical disability or PTSD.

Thank You, Father, for the assurance that You will not forget them or their families – or us.

July 30 – August 2 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference

Now that this year’s Colorado Christian Writers Conference is only a memory, it’s time to switch my focus to the Greater Philly conference. This afternoon I uploaded info on our clinics to http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/2014clinics.

Advanced Fiction Intensive with Nancy Rue – Nancy is the only author whose writing has so captured me that I read the last 50 pages of her first novel, Row this Boat Ashore, line-by-line by the light of my electric blanket control. Really! Nancy comes to the mentoring table with a wealth of experience: 30 years writing both fiction and nonfiction for middle grade, YA, new Adult, and adult audiences and 42 years teaching creative writing. She has 122 published books to her credit and while still writing, Nancy has expanded her ministry through her Writers Mentorship Program to mentor new authors who are led to a writing ministry of their own. If you have a completed manuscript in any fiction genre, including middle grade or young adult, Nancy will guide you in making your work richer, deeper, and more polished in readiness for submission to agents and editors. Just ask faculty members, Tim Shoemaker, Joyce Magnin, Candy Abbott, and Pam Halter whose lives and writing she has powerfully impacted.

Nonfiction Book Proposals with Dave Fessenden – Dave has been part of GPCWC’s faculty (family) for decades. He is a literary agent with WordWise Media Services representing academic, semi-academic, biblical studies and issues nonfiction, as well as speculative (sci-fi/fantasy) and historical fiction. He is also an independent editorial and publishing consultant with degrees in journalism and theology and over 30 years of experience in writing and editing. He has served in editorial management positions for Christian book publishers and was regional editor for the largest Protestant weekly newspaper in the country. Dave has published seven books including Writing the Christian Nonfiction Book: Concept to Contract and  A Christian Writer’s Guide to the Book Proposal. He will lead a group of 6 authors in critiquing one another’s proposals and then improving and fine-tuning them. In addition, each of the participants will have a one-on-one with Dave during breakfast or lunch.

Get Them Coming to Your Blog/Website with Megan Breedlove – Megan is an author, speaker, and website consultant whose website for more than four years has held one of the top two spots in Google search terms that receive thousands of hits each month. She is the author of Manna for Moms, Well Done Good and Faithful Mommy, and Chaotic Joy, all from Regal. In addition to her writing and speaking to encourage moms, Megan works with Christian authors and ministries to help them improve their platforms so that they too can get their message out to the world. In this clinic you’ll learn how to bring the maximum number of people to your site, what kind of web presence you need and where to go to get it, and how to determine exactly who your target audience is and what they need. You’ll receive individual instruction to ensure your site does the best possible job of meeting your audience’s needs, discover how to promote your site, increase your Google ranking, expand your author platform so you can get your message out to the nations, develop a presence that will be attractive to publishers, and more.

Our ministry received such value from Megan’s instruction.
We learned so much about web presence.
The proof is in the results.
By His design went from 1 or 2 visits on our website per day to 80 to 90 visits per day.
She gave us a real value.

Dave Weikel, http://www.byhisdesignonline.com

More information and clinic applications will be uploaded soon to http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/2014clinics as well as faculty bios, editorial needs, and more.

May 13-16, 2015 Colorado Christian Writers Conference

With the 2014 conference already a memor,y planning for next year has begun. God met us on the mountain in powerful, life-changing ways. CDs of the keynotes, workshops, and continuing sessions can be ordered at http://colorado.writehisanswer.com.

News You Can Use

Handling a Difficult Editorial Process – Rachelle Gardner, an agent with Books and Such, offers helpful suggestions for working with editors that will also benefit you when  meeting with them at a conference. (Father, give us open minds and teachable spirits.)  http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/difficult-editorial/?utm_source=feedburner

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend with family and friends.


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1.       To learn the craft of writing. Okay, maybe you’ve been writing for many years, but there is always more to learn. Master craftsmen will teach workshops and continuing sessions that, as one conferee said, are the equivalent of a semester college course in writing.  You’ll learn from authors like Bill Myers whose books and videos have sold over 8 million copies or Gayle Roper, an award-winning author of 45 books. And they are just two of the 55 authors, editors, agents, and publicists serving on this year’s faculty.

 2.       To learn the craft of marketing your work to potential publishers. If you’ve gotten more than your share of rejection slips or have yet to get your first rejection (I’m sorry, it goes with the territory of being a writer), CCWC’s track of six hour-long publishing workshops will provide practical help. In addition, Cindy Lambert is teaching a two-hour Wednesday early bird workshop on “Crafting a Winning Nonfiction Book Proposal.”  You also can choose Tim Shoemaker’s continuing session, “How to Get Published!” or Kim Bangs’ continuing session, “Nonfiction Books.”

3.       Face-to-face opportunities to pitch your work to editors and agentsAt CCWC you get FOUR 15-minute one-on-one appointments with the faculty of your choice. Because we have such a large faculty, there’s still a good possibility that you’ll get your top choices. On Thursday afternoon you’ll have the opportunity to sign up for additional appointments with faculty who still have openings. In today’s publishing world, the only way to connect with many agents and editors is through meeting them at a conference. Check out our helpful spreadsheets of their editorial needs. Our authors are also available for appointments. They can point out the strengths and weaknesses in your writing, answer questions, and provide helpful guidance.

4.       To learn the craft of marketing/promoting your published work. And yes, it’s a craft, and not one that comes naturally to most writers.  I’ve often said that the reason I quit Girl Scouts is because of the stress of trying to sell cookies.  Whether or not you like marketing, the fact is that you hold the key to the sales of your book.  But the good news is that it’s a craft that can be learned. Thomas Umstaddt’s continuing session, “Obscure No More,” will teach you how to build a powerful online platform. We’ve also got a track of six hour-long marketing workshops.

5.       Friendships with other writers. My closest friends are writers I’ve met at writers’ conferences. In amazing ways writers connect deeply with one another more quickly than I ever have in the chit-chat before and after Sunday morning worship services. And we need each other. A key verse for me that I’ve experienced and sought to follow is 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Encourage each other to build each other up” (TLB).

 6.       Inspiration and encouragement to keep on keeping on. Our general sessions and keynotes will challenge you not to give up. I’m especially looking forward to the closing keynote Saturday afternoon, “Finishing Strong,” that Tim Shoemaker has stepped in to give because Tim Baker had to cancel.

 “Often we can feel less and less equipped to cope with the battles of life,” Tim Shoemaker says. “Job problems. Medical issues. Financial concerns. Emotional wounds. All of these and more can make us feel like we’re past our prime. Whether it is feelings of fear, inadequacy, or feeling the best of life has passed us by, we can easily fall into a sense that we’re sidelined and that God doesn’t really have anything critical for us to do. We can get relaxed. Complacent. It is a surrender of sorts.  A neutralizing thing.

“First Corinthians 16:13-14 says ‘Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.’ These are great verses for many Christians today – men or women. I’d like to break down those verses a bit. And I’d like to encourage the people not to give up. Not to quit. Not to let down their guard. But instead, to finish strong. To keep fighting. To be an example to the next generation. To fight for the loved ones in the next generation. We do that through who we are, and as writers, we influence people through the words we put on paper.

“I’d like to recruit people to active duty to be in the fight – to be the person they should be and the example they should be. Some of the greatest works God does through people is not when they have money, influence, strength, or power. It is when those things are gone or greatly diminished from where they once were that God often uses a person.”

7.       Direction from the Lord. Each year, and this is my 17th year directing CCWC, God meets us on the mountain and changes lives. He has a plan for you and for your writing.  He is the One who makes the impossible possible.

So there are seven reasons you need to prayerfully consider coming to the May 15-18 Colorado Christian Writers Conference. I could easily list many more! Partial scholarships are still available if you need financial help to come that your family, friends, or church are unable to provide.

There’s still time to register and to request appointments. Housing is still available on the YMCA’s campus, and the YMCA will do roommate matching to lower the cost. None of the workshops or continuing sessions are filled because of the YMCA’s large classrooms. And there’s even still space in two of our clinics – the “Speakers’ Clinic” with KPOF’s Roy Hanschke and “Get Them Coming to Your Blog/Website” with Megan Breedlove whose website has held one of the top two spots in Google search terms for more than three years.

You’re welcome to contact me if you have questions at mbagnull@aol.com or 484-991-8581.

God bless you and your writing – Marlene


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How can you make your book proposal stand out—in a positive way—from the many that agents and editors receive on a daily basis? What makes your book unique? Who’s your target audience, and how do you plan to reach it?

Marti Pieper, a professional writer, editor, and book doctor, can help you increase your nonfiction book proposal’s appeal to agents and editors along with its chances of finding a publishing home. Marti uses her years of writing and editing experience to help you discover common errors and suggests practical ways to improve them. She’ll also help you identify your book’s unique selling point and target audience, enabling you to enhance your book proposal by positioning your book in the marketplace.

May 17-19 Marti will share this information at the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference, where she’ll present one of the three clinics offered. I caught up with Marti and asked her a few questions about herself and her nonfiction book proposal clinic, “Book Doctor: Take Your Nonfiction From Good to Great.”

Question: You call yourself a book doctor. What exactly does a book doctor do?

The book doctor title came my way after more than one experience where an author or agent asked me to apply my writing and editing skills to a manuscript or proposal and move it toward publication. A book doctor, like a medical doctor, assesses the patient (manuscript and/or proposal), formulates appropriate treatment based on the diagnosis, and carries out that treatment until the patient no longer requires care. In my case, this has included everything from complete or partial reorganization to ghostwriting to content editing. I like to say I take proposals and manuscripts from good to great. That’s what I hope our Book Doctor Clinic achieves as well.

Question:  At what point in writing a nonfiction book should we start writing the proposal?

Writing a great proposal helps you write a fantastic book. That explains why I think authors should write the proposal early in their writing process, perhaps before they have written a word of the manuscript. The effort and organization required to complete the proposal-writing process gives authors the deep knowledge of their material required to produce a great book.

Question: When should we contact an agent or editor?

First-time authors will want to have their proposals finished before they contact these professionals. However, a writer’s conference affords the unique opportunity to meet with agents or editors at an earlier point. If you can bring a finished proposal to the conference, do so. Whether or not the agent or editor has time to read it, you’ll know your material better and speak more confidently about it if you’ve submitted to the discipline of completing your proposal. If you can’t complete your proposal before the conference, bring a pitch sheet (summary sheet that contains basic information about the proposed manuscript and its author) to refer to during conference appointments. And of course, sign up for the Book Doctor clinic where we’ll work together to help your proposal shine.

Question:  How important is it that we know our target audience before we write the proposal? What about before we write the book?

Knowing our target audience is key to developing both the proposal and the book. We write to meet the felt needs of our readers, and if we don’t know who our readers are, we’ll have a tough time meeting those needs.

Question:  The clinic description says we’ll learn ways to identify our unique selling point. Will the clinic also show us how to present that selling point in our proposal?

Yes, we’ll cover that as we go through the various elements of a nonfiction proposal. The clinic outline will flex somewhat depending on the needs of the individuals and manuscripts submitted, but the basic elements should remain the same.

Question:  Will the clinic help us come up with a marketing plan to include in our book proposal?

We’ll discuss marketing but I doubt we’ll have time to develop specific plans. I’m glad the conference offers great teaching by Rob Eagar and others who can help us improve our marketing efforts. Again, the clinic will flex depending on the number, needs, and interests of those who attend.  (NOTE: Those chosen to participate in the clinic will still attend the six hour continuing session of their choice including Rob Eagar’s “Marketing for the Promotionally Challenged Author,” “Narrative Nonfiction” with Craig von Buseck who is Ministries Director at CBN.com, “Gift Books and Devotional Writing” with Karen Moore, “Please NO Pat Answers” with a team of three authors, or “Changing Paradigms of Publishing” with Dave Lambert. Those who do not choose to apply for the clinic or who are not accepted can choose six workshops from the 42 offered including six workshops in each of the following tracks: Nonfiction, Writer’s Life, Craft, Get Publishing, Marketing, and Specialty.)

Question:  Can you give a few examples of common errors you’ve seen in nonfiction book manuscripts and proposals?

I have to save some of my secrets for the conference, Donna, but here are a few: limited or lofty appeal, lack of focus, and trying to develop a book when you only have enough material for an article. The clinic environment is a unique setting that allows us to learn from each other and allow God to use us together to produce better proposals and, in the end, better products. I’m excited about the opportunity to mentor writers in this interactive, instructive environment. Thanks for your questions, Donna, and I’ll see you at the CCWC!

Thanks, Donna and Marti, for a great interview. Clinic applications must be received via email no later than April 16. Click here for more info and the application.               

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