Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I hate writing copy

These are the guidelines.

The Overview

The overview is probably the most important section of the proposal, as it sets the proposal up, introduces your thesis, describes the concept behind the book and the approach you intend to take, and basically answers the deceivingly generic question: what is the book? In writing this section, it may help to think about it as though you were writing the copy that would appear on the jacket of your book.

This section should describe the content of the book in detail, highlighting its features, its selling points (who would buy it and why would they want it?), where the information will originate (five years of original data, twenty years of teaching a class, ten years of traveling to middle and high schools and talking to students), what perspective you as an author uniquely bring to the topic. In writing your overview, let the following questions guide you: - What is the concept of the book? - What is your intended approach (Practical, how-to? Humorous? Inspirational?) - What is your thesis/point of view? - Where will the information in the book come from? - What unique perspective do you as an author bring to the subject? - What’s the promise of the book? (What will the reader gain from reading it? Even if it is a narrative there needs to be something gained – even if it’s entertainment – in order for a reader to justify spending the money and the time.) - What do you intend to accomplish with the book? It also helps to open the overview with a story or anecdote that illustrates the need for such a book as this.


And here is the first draft.

365 Days of Crush
by William Emery

Sales Handle

One Man. Six Continents. 18 Countries. 25 Wineries. 365 Days of Crush.


Beyond Bordeaux, never mind Napa, the world of wine is not what, and not where, you think it is. Through the vinous conquest of the Southern Hemispheres, and the recent “New Latitude” wines of India and Thailand, every month finds someone out in the fields, picking sheers in hand, baskets in tow, denuding the vines. In his 30th year, writer and toddling viticulturalist William Emery abandoned everything to follow this unlikely trail across six continents, to climb this Everest of harvest, arriving, ultimately, where he began: a small, ten acre vineyard in the rolling hills of Central Kansas.

Through Emery’s prose, which is, at turns, sensual, subversive, mordant, and deadly serious, the world of wine appears as it never has before: on horseback through the ancient vineyards of Uzbekistan, praying the peace holds in Israel’s contested Golan Heights, resting at a trellised oasis in the Peruvian desert.

Whether you think Merlot rhymes with parking lot or you’ve just added a Gascogne wing to your cellar, Emery’s journey will not fail to provoke and surprise, and may just change the way you drink, and think.


kim said...

might i enquire what publishing houses you're planning to market yourself to?

Whim said...

I've been having trouble commenting on my own blog. This is a test.

Whim said...

Ah-ha! These small victories over software do thrill. But to answer your question, Kim, I don't know. My intention, and necessity for this kind of proposal, is to go thru an agent. The big houses (ha) don't accept unsolicited men, I mean, manuscripts, and the small or university presses don't usually handle this sort of book. But my dream publishers, in general? FSG and New Directions, making my way, eventually, into the Dalkey Archive.

Kyle said...

I like the pitch. Is it odd to be writing about future events in the past tense? Then again, maybe you've already "abandoned everything to follow" this trail such that your past, present, and future are merging in the catacombs of blogger.com. Trippy.

kim said...

mmmm, New Directions. who wouldn't want to be published by them?

as something to keep in mind, though, UCP does a lot of wine books, most of them trade (see, for instance, this: http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/11286.php).