Chip MacGregor

June 11, 2012

Where can I find sample proposals?


Kris wrote to say, “I read the sample proposals you keep on your MacGregor Literary site. I found them helpful (and can’t wait to read Sandra Glahn’s novel), but as an unpublished novelist, it made me wonder… What should I be doing to to pre-market myself?”

I’ve had several people write to ask if they can see sample proposals. We keep some sample proposals on our corporate website:

Stop by and check out the basic format we use. You can also find sample proposals on several other good agent websites.

Kris wrote to say to me, “I’ve read the sample proposals you have on your site, and found them helpful, but it makes me wonder… An an unpublished novelist, what should I be doing to pre-market myself?”

I don’t think a new novelist is going to do much different from the work of a mid-list novelist when it comes to marketing. Make sure you know how to write exceptionally well, then figure out a plan for marketing and work hard at it. That means getting your name out there. Make sure you have a following of readers. Try to let as many people as possible know about your forthcoming book. Work to be successful locally, then try to find success regionally, then nationally. Participate in every possible marketing avenue you can afford. I encourage authors to get as much marketing training as they can — we used to have to hire others to do this, but with the advent of the internet, you’ve been given a means of taking your message personally to millions of potential readers. So find the training you need (we’ve talked about that in the past), create a plan, and be looking for ways to maximize your exposure.

There has been a movement afoot among authors to “brand” themselves, but that’s something I think is overdone among newbies. A “brand” occurs over time when customers have a series of positive impressions about a person or product. I think it’s very, very tough for an unpublished novelist to establish a brand, since the potential readership has no context for establishing those types of impressions with an unknown author. (I’ll have to blog about branding again sometime soon.)

Nancy also wrote and said, “I noticed  on your sample proposals the authors have an extensive list of contacts. How necessary is this type of a list in a proposal, and what qualifies as a contact? If I interview an editor on my blog, does that qualify?”

If you maintain a relationship with the editor, then yes, I’d say it probably qualifies. The authors listed contacts who are influencers — people who would be on the publisher’s “big mouth” list (a list your publicist will create with you, in order to get people talking about your book). Obviously, the bigger the name, the more helpful it is. But be aware that you really should only list people you are fairly certain will participate. Every editor is tired of seeing names like Jodi Picoult and Debbie Macomber, only to find out the author simply shook their hand at an industry event and “intends to contact them and ask for an endorsement.” A “contacts” list is just that — a list of people you are already in contact with.

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