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Archive for the ‘book proposals’ Category

A writer may spend years producing a book but only half an hour on a cover letter to potential publishers and ten minutes (if that) on a title. This is a flawed strategy.

Why bother? What can a title do for you? The answer is: quite a lot. The title is the first example of your writing your potential reader experiences. And there are compelling reasons for making it compelling!

Your title will:

  • resonate with readers, encouraging them to open your book. You should treat this as an honour. Yes, seriously.
  • promise a reader an experience – from light entertainment to catharsis to the step by step acquisition of a desirable skill.

So how do you dream up a good title?

Firstly, you need to understand the theme of/idea behind your book. Then, you need to study modern trends in titles. You need to test your title’s uniqueness and how attractive the search engines will find it. You need to do all this research, then sleep on it and hope for a Eureka moment when you wake up.

More than ten minutes’ worth – that’s for sure.

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It all started when I was climbing the conning tower of the UK’s latest nuclear submarine.  Yes – you’ve guessed it. HMS Astute. My knee not so much gave way as disappeared out of my leg completely.  And that was it – over twenty years of freelance journalism and poor workplace ergonomics (I work from home) were catching up with me. Musculo-skeletal disorders were rearing their pretty ugly heads. Along with a rather peculiar form of adrenaline-aversion which is triggered particularly by deadlines. And deadlines – as we all know – are an essential tool in journalistic productivity.

‘No work’ was not an option and ‘Less desk-bound work’ and ‘using my expertise’ were imperatives.  And – with unusual foresight as opposed to journalistic crisis management – I just happened some time ago to have taken a coaching course. So now, I was able to re-jig my career – for the fourth time if you include motherhood.

I still do occasional medical journalism assignments and I’m working on a series of short stories and a novel.  But, since 2005, when I founded the Lonely Furrow Company, a new world has opened up. Trained in co-active coaching, NLP and transactional analysis, I am now a writing coach.

As a result, clients ask for my help with projects ranging from novels to academic theses. And tricky but common writing coaching problems  include writers’ block, time management and work life balance, where to find ideas, how to handle feedback and how to write a book proposal.

But, it doesn’t stop there. I improve people’s communication skills – personal and professional – by drawing on my eclectic knowledge of literature and my Masters in Sociolinguistics. Communication impacts on human relationships and the simple equation is: better communication skills = better relationships. Of course, other aspects such as shared values and a GSH help. But communication contributes here too.

Within the Lonely Furrow Company stable, there is also the workshop facilitation service, Out of the Box Workshops. Some workshops on offer embrace creative writing for personal development – such as memoir writing and journaling – writing coaching, creativity and opportunities for peer review. Others deal with media coaching issues such as how to write a winning press release or how to give a good account of yourself, your work and your organisation when interviewed by the media. Other presentations deal with corporate interests such as the role of communication in leadership and team building and yet more, deal with the highly-charged areas of family breakdown and healthcare.

And I am a storyteller. I use story to help people reflect on their personal and professional lives. And I train others in the use of story. Clients for these workshops range from healthcare workers to family lawyers to organisational leaders.

In fact, put simply, I tell stories for a living and help others to do the same. And this – in the brave new world of the economic downturn – is what retirement means.

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Writing a successful book proposal is the real trick.  Publishers have no reason to publish your book.  But this is how you persuade them that they have.  You’re also providing him – or her – with a crib sheet for when he has to talk to the accountants and the sales department that run his firm and the booksellers whose shelves he’s competing for.  A publisher’s life is not an easy one and your task when you send in your proposal is to smooth his way.  It is after all on your behalf.

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