"If I was looking at this, I would turn it down."
Today was Day 1 of the 10th Annual San Francisco Writers Conference which is being held at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel on Nob Hill. I was so looking forward to this event since this time last year I was just getting started on my journey as a Transformational Author. I am helping out as a volunteer, but today I was not scheduled, so that meant it was a day of learning. I had two sessions I wanted to attend. The first was Writing An Irresistable Book Proposal. I actually took a proposal with me, an updated version of the one I created last year as part of the Transformational Author Experience Writing Contest. The session was monitored by Conference host & literary agent, Michael Larsen and included a New York editor and an agent from Denver. All shared what agents and publishers look for in a standard proposal.
There are 8 key points, although in order to be sure, check out an agent or publisher's website for submission guidelines.
The 8 key points are as follows:
1. Overview of the book
2. Market Analysis
3. Comparison Titles
4. About the Author
6. Table of Contents
7. Sample Chapters
8. Revelent Clips & Supporting Material (ie. article you've written) OPTIONAL
It was very helpful to listen to each speak about their experience when receiving proposals and how much time they give to each dependent on what it entails. I took lots of notes and now have a better idea of how to improve my current proposal.
The second session I attended was truly spectacular. It was titled Non-Fiction First Page-A-Thon. Everyone was allowed to submit the first page of their book to be critiqued by three literary agents. Someone read the page outloud to the group and then the agents each gave their critique. It was so interesting because I learned something from each one, not just mine. Again I took lots of notes and now know what changes I need to make.
The key things I took away from this session were as follows:
1. The first sentence of your book is the most crucial. The greatest first sentences have some sort of contradiction. For example - "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."
2. The first page sells the book.
3. You need to bring the character to life and entice the reader to ask questions, specifically 'WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?'
4. Your first page is your audition. You don't want to spend so much time setting things up. You need to get to the meat of the story ASAP.
5. Write with intent!
So there you have it boys & girls. Today's lesson. It's funny when I think about it. I was never too keen on school when I was young, and took the long way to get my three university degrees. Now however, I feel like the eager pupil, always yearning to learn more. Guess that's what happens when you discover your passion. What shall we discover tomorrow? Day 2!!
Until then, happy writing!