WRITING A BOOK PROPOSAL A book proposal should never be more than 20 double-spaced quarto pages. The primary function is as a selling tool. It uses as few words as possible to generate the maximum enthusiasm for your proposed book. It must answer every question an editor may have , so that he has no reason to say “no”. A proposal is a map. A solid outline will enable you and the publisher to see where you are going. Writing 2 sample chapters will show whether you can and really want to write the book. If you prove that you can research, organize and write non-fiction, you can sell a book with a proposal consisting of an introduction, a chapter-by-chapter outline, and 2 sample chapters. With fiction it is more difficult. You need an exciting synopsis of not more than 1 page.Another page should be your bio … what work you have had published up to now, and your accreditations if any. A paragraph should cite what genre it will belong to – e.g. romantic fiction, historical, sci-fi, thriller etc.; who your target audience is and why you think you are the person to write it. You must also state the length (50 – 60,000 words is an acceptable ms.) You must also state how you will help promote it – e.g. lectures, book signings, TV or radio appearances etc. The cover page must give all your contact details. Finally, you can send 1 or 2 sample chapters so that the publisher can assess your style. Never send a complete ms. – it will simply go in the slush pile. If it interests them, they will ask to see more. If you want your ms. returned, you must send stamps to cover the postage, or if it is overseas, you send International Reply Coupons that you buy at the Post Office. You can send multiple submissions. Don’t worry – more than one publisher will probably not be interested. You can use an agent, but I have only had an agent find me one publisher – the other 13 books I approached publishers directly, although my New York literary agent often gets me better deals on the contract. Read books like The Artists & Writers’ Year Book (U.K.) or “The Writers’ Market (U.S.A.) to research which publishers are interested in your genre and any specific requirements they have. Then be patient – you rarely get an answer in less than 3 months. Good luck!

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THE BOOK ONLY YOU CAN WRITE

There is one book that only you can write – your memoir or autobiography.   When you are young, of course your life is ongoing, but when you get old (I am 87!)  you should think about leaving something behind for your family.  I am blessed with 4 children, 18 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.  None of them knew me when I was really young and so I decided it was time to write my memoir.

I called it “Tales I Never Told You.”  I started with my childhood and introduced them to my beloved family members, most of whom they had never known.  I tried to write it with humor as well as sentiment, and found it very therapeutic for me to recall memories that had been buried for decades.

Not everything should be included.  My golden years that I spent in London, aged 19 – 22, were lightly glossed over.  There were private things during that time that were too precious to be shared with anyone, some joys and heartbreak that I wouldn’t and couldn’t reveal.

But I tried to convey, and hope I succeeded, in leaving a message that each one of them was loved and treasured by me; had brought joy into my life.  Near the end of the book I wrote: “I am not sad as I come to the end of my journey.  My life has been long and eventful.   There is a song, the lyrics of which begin: ‘Into each life some rain must fall’  and I’ve had my share of that too.  But I have travelled to exotic locales, fulfilled my dream of being a writer, written 14 books and thousands of articles, short stories and poems, won several literary prizes.  The greatest success of my life has been establishing this great family … you who are now reading these words …”

Think about your own family if you are now reaching old age.  Tell them the love you have for them that until now you may not have put into words.  Tell them things you have never got around to sharing, tell them the values you want to pass on and the hopes you have for their future.

It is a book you will have to pay for yourself to be published, but obviously you won’t need a great number of copies.  And some things are more important than money.

Happy writing. You can purchase some of my book direct from me at discount by contacting me at dwaysman@gmail.com.  I am always glad to hear your comments, and to help with any of your writing problems.

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STORY STARTERS – Quick Ways to find Inspiration!

LISTEN CAREFULLY:  Eavesdrop – at a restaurant or on a bus, & record bits of overheard conversation.  Sometimes the dialogue will jump-start all kinds of ideas.

READ THE OBITUARIES:  Do you wonder about the part of a person’s life that isn’t reported in the death notices?  Use your imagination to fill in the gaps.

PUT YOURSELF IN ANOTHER PERSON’S PLACE:   Pick a character, maybe from the Bible, and read his or her story carefully.  Write a story as though you were that character.

TELL THE STORY BEHIND A PHOTOGRAPH:   Find a picture that intrigues you or stirs a memory – maybe an early photo of your mother.  You will be surprised at what memories are invoked.

LISTEN TO STORIES FROM FRIENDS OR RELATIVES OR EVEN STRANGERS:  I once sat on a park bench with a notebook when an old lady came & sat next to me.  She started telling me her life story, and it was one of the most fascinating stories I had ever heard.

START WITH A SETTING: Describe a setting in such detail that it can’t be mistaken for any other spot in the world, & then let people loose in it. This is a great story starter.

USE A MAP: Pick out towns with odd names, and think about what it would be like to live there.  I read recently a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald set in the town of Hades  called “A Diamond as Big as the Ritz”.  Hades & people’s reaction to the name was a big part of the plot.

THINK OF A COLOR :   For example, “red” might evoke russet apples, fragrant roses, scraped knees,  a flag  … ideas are endless.

The next time your are all out of inspiration, maybe one of the above suggestions can get you started.

Happy writing.  I am always glad to hear your comments, and help you with any writing difficulties.  My latest novel (no. 14) “Searching for Sarah” is now available direct from me at discount:  contact  dwaysman@gmail.com   ; also “In A Good Pasture” and some copies of “Esther” ; a Jerusalem Love Story; and “The Pomegranate Pendant” – now a movie titled “The Golden Pomegranate”.

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HOW TO END YOUR ARTICLE

There’s more to writing a good conclusion than many writers realise.  Don’t let it end with a whimper.  A good closing achieves three purposes:   it will emphasize the point of your article; it will provide a climax; and it will help readers remember your piece.

 

You can close by asking a question. This leads readers to keep thinking about the topic.

State a little-known fact.   This will make it memorable.

You can close with a quotation.

Try a bit of trivia – plant an off-beat fact in the readers’ minds in hopes they’ll remember your article.

Tug at the heartstrings.  A tear or two will make any article memorable.

Motivate them.  Maybe you want the readers to take some kind of action – maybe to join an organization; donate to a charity; mail a letter of support.

You can close by reviewing your main points. This will clarify things for your readers and reinforce the message you are sending.

What is important is that your conclusion brings readers to the end feeling satisfied that they have, indeed, read the last word on the subject.   Crafting opening paragraphs may get more attention, but perhaps the Biblical writer of Ecclesiastes knew the best way to satisfy readers:  “Whatsoever thou takest in hand, remember the end, and thou shall never do amiss! ”

Happy writing.  I enjoy your comments and am always ready to help with any writing problems.  You can get copies of my latest novel “Searching for Sarah” direct from me; and also copies of “The Pomegranate Pendant”;  “In A Good Pasture”;  “Esther – a Jerusalem Love Story” at a discount price by contacting me at dwaysman@gmail.com

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SNIPPETS OF ADVICE

From Dvora's Desk

All my life as a writer, I seem to have collected bits of advice from experienced authors.  Many of them are cliches, but nevertheless some of them just might serve as an inspiration for you.  Off the top of my head, here are a few of them:

Write a book you’d like to read.  If you wouldn’t read it, why would anyone else?

Make yourself a place to write , no matter how small – a quiet space where it’s just you, your pen and a notebook or laptop/computer.

Agatha Christie wrote that the best time for planning a book was while you were doing the dishes.

Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained. If you know something, and breathe life into it, they’ll know it too.

Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it’s raining, but the feeling of…

View original post 145 more words

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DON’T BE DEPRESSED!

Receiving an occasional rejection is all part of being a writer.  You should regard the submission itself as an achievement.  You should be proud.  This is the first hurdle you’ve overcome. If you are sending out your work, you have taken the first steps to publication by finishing something, and being brave enough to send it out into the world. Pat yourself on the back!

Remember you are in good company. Many famous, successful writers were repeatedly rejected before finding favour with a publisher – think JK Rowling, whose first Harry Potter book was rejected 12 times before being finally accepted by Bloomsbury (only because the chairman’s 8-year-old daughter liked it so much.)

Look at your rejected work with a fresh eye, and not as a personal insult.  Perhaps in the joy of finishing it and sending it, you overlooked some flaws that are now apparent.  It doesn’t mean it is without merit. Looking at it again with more critical eyes might show you what you need to do to fix it.

Submit it elsewhere. You might have targeted the wrong publication or publisher. Do your homework.  Consult publications such as The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook for possible markets; study the websites of magazines, newspapers and publishers.

You might need to work on something different for a while, in a different style and genre,  will sharpen your skills . Then return to the other piece with fresh eyes that might spot exactly why it was rejected.

Check your timing.  Monthly magazines have a very long lead time and work months ahead.  Maybe another writer covered a similar idea recently.

Avoid seeking consolation from friends and family. They won’t take an objective view of your work.  And if they do criticise you, you’ll feel that the whole world is against you.

Above all, remember why you started writing. Persistence is a virtue in the world of writing.  You should write because you enjoy it, and publication is the icing on the cake.  Believe in yourself and celebrate the fact that you have such an enjoyable and rewarding hobby, with publishing success just around the corner.

Happy writing. I am glad to hear your comments and to help with any writing problem.  My 14th book “Searching for Sarah” is available at discount direct from me, at:  dwaysman@gmail.com – as are some other titles including “In A Good Pasture” and “Esther – A Jerusalem Love Story.”

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SNIPPETS OF ADVICE

All my life as a writer, I seem to have collected bits of advice from experienced authors.  Many of them are cliches, but nevertheless some of them just might serve as an inspiration for you.  Off the top of my head, here are a few of them:

 

Write a book you’d like to read.  If you wouldn’t read it, why would anyone else?

Make yourself a place to write , no matter how small – a quiet space where it’s just you, your pen and a notebook or laptop/computer.

Agatha Christie wrote that the best time for planning a book was while you were doing the dishes.

Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained. If you know something, and breathe life into it, they’ll know it too.

Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it’s raining, but the feeling of being rained upon. (E.L. Doctorow)

Don’t hold on to poor work. If it was bad when it went into the drawer,  it will be just as bad whet comes out.

Even great writers admit to poor first drafts – so you’re in good company.

Try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.

The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer’ the better the writing.

And my favourite:  Forget all the rules.  Forget about being published.  Write for yourself, and celebrate writing.

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I’m always happy to hear your comments, and to help with any writing problems.  My latest novel (no. 14)  is “Searching for Sarah” and is available from me direct at discount. I also have copies of “In A Good Pasture” and “Esther” available. You can contact me at:

dwaysman@gmail.com.   Happy writing.

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