Archive for the ‘proposals’ Category

You start off with a carefully-garnered list of twelve agents. Then you send out your well-crafted book proposal. And then, your book proposal comes back.

Is this the end of the road?

Very few experienced writers would assume it is.

The agent may feel justified in rejecting your proposal because:

1)You misjudged the market  – for example, you have sent in a collection of colonial stories – reminiscent of Rudyard Kipling – when anti-imperialist views prevail in society as a whole.

2)You have misjudged the agent’s area of interest – you have sent the agent a book on military history when their main list (ie where they make their money and concentrate their efforts) contains romantic comedies.

3)Your prose style is poor. (ie you actually prefer wood-carving – or give that impression.)

4)Your plot is full of inconsistencies – Where was your mind when you were writing this? And have you made friends with your Inner Editor yet?

5)You haven’t got your MS polished and ready to go. (Well, really.)

These issues demonstrate a lack of professionalism. Remedies exist. (more…)

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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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