Monday, September 1, 2008

Query vs. Proposal

So I think most who frequent my blog are familiar with the concept and process of a query. But for first-time visitors or non-writers, a recap: You write a letter briefly expressing the premise of your (usually) fiction book, and ask the agent you're contacting if he/she would A) like to look at your manuscript and B) consider representing you. Sounds simple, right? It's so not simple. You have to encorporate all the most crucial aspects of your story, catch their attention with a hook, stand out from all the hundreds of queries besides yours, time it so they don't read yours after eating a rotten tuna fish sandwich, and do it all in the most professional way. YIKES.

Proposals are an entirely different process and output. They're done with non-fiction books, and a proposal is an all-out presentation for the agent. A proposal includes these steps, in this order: title page, overview, the market, the competition, about the author, publicity, annotated table of contents, and sample material. Plus three or four optional inclusions, if you like. You have to know your non-fic idea backwards and forwards; you have to research whether there's a market for it, if your book fits in but also how it's different and special, and how publicity and marketing would work once it's published. Whew. And then you submit it to your chosen agent, just as you would the query.

And it's crazy, but writing my proposal was so much easier than that query I've been sending out. I'm still happy with my query, don't get me wrong, but that was such a nasty booger to get "right." The proposal, conversely, was much more cut and dry, black and white. I'd have been totally lost if it weren't for that AW thread I referenced in my last post, so I give those involved with it super-kudos.

Still, the ease of my proposal just reiterated the feeling that this is what I'm supposed to be doing. Every section seemed, at first, overwhelming. But I said, "I can do this. I'm a writer and I can handle it." And, by golly, I did! Every part flowed out of me, with a great deal of Guidance, I know. And I am so thankful for that. I feel so sure in what I'm doing with this.

And so I'm going to submit my non-fic proposal sometime today. I'll be looking it over for the last (millionth) time, and will send it off with good wishes and prayer. Think of me!

***

I got a rejection from my novel query yesterday (Sunday) morning at, believe it or not, 5:21 a.m. (Talk about keeping up with your slush pile!) It was very nice, and expressed that though my premise didn't excite them as much as they'd have liked, my writing showed promise. And, in a nutshell, to keep at it. So YAY! for another nice, positive rejection. That makes:

13 rejections, 16 out
and
1 proposal out, as of sometime today

16 comments:

Janet said...

Ah, personal rejections. They're almost as good as an acceptance. So I suppose I should congratulate you. ;o)

Janna Qualman said...

A-thank you, a-thank you. :D

kimmirich said...

Morn, Janna, boo-hiss on the reject, but I feel you're close with the positive comments!!!! and as far as proposals, ughh, I just couldn't get it there, I feel, however I'm great at querys. I think because the proposal was so in depth... vs. the query? And I simply froze, but, but, but, I did manage to get it there.

Gave you a little tag this morn on secrets... and also added a short for your review on Rock Stars Horror Night page two on my blog. : D
Get a chance come on over and a Happy Labor Day to you and yours! ; )

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, you should be proud that you're getting encouragement from agents, even if they are rejections. That's much better than a form letter.

Way to go on the proposal! It must feel great to have something just click like that. :)

Janna Qualman said...

Exciting, Kimmi! I'll go check it out, now. And thanks for the good thoughts. :)

Thanks, Melanie! I sure choose to take it as encouragement.

WendyCinNYC said...

It's exciting for you to have two things going at once. Lessens the sting of rejection, one would think.

And positive rejections are a good thing--some agents don't respond at all. That's lame, IMO. After a writer takes the time to research the agent and personalize a query, he can't even shoot back a "No thanks."

Or even a "NO."

Or even a "N."

Pffbbt.

Melanie Avila said...

LOL @ N. :D

Joanne said...

Janna, crossed fingers and best wishes on your proposal! Love the positive feelings you have, it all helps ...

Terri Tiffany said...

Thank you for your comment on faith on my blog. Mine has surely been tested this year-- but when we feel the most let down, God bends down and picks me up. He did that this week for me.

Janna Qualman said...

Thanks, Joanne. I think staying positive in all aspects of life helps it go much better. That's not to say I don't have down and discouraging days, because I do. But I like to try to keep myself up. :)

Hugs, Terri. Prayers for you.

colbymarshall said...

I can't wait to see what happens with your proposal-- I'm excited for you!

Joshua said...

*also crosses fingers for luck*

Janna Qualman said...

Yay, Colby! Thanks for your shared excitement!

Josh - and toes... and arms... and legs... ;)

Terri Tiffany said...

What a postive rejection you got!! I wouldn't mind that at all.
I love that you wrote about proposals etc as I am almost ready to start that part. I dread it and it helps reading how someone else endured the process. I hope you hear good news!

Melissa Marsh said...

I love the personal rejections so much more than those who just copy a form letter and slap it in an envelope to you.

Janna Qualman said...

Thanks, Terri and Melissa. You girls said it! :)