Sitting down to write a book is intimidating—even for an experienced author.
And selling that book to an agent, editor or reader is not only intimidating but often
overwhelming. Because you need a hook, a pitch, a query. Plus, a synopsis, if you are writing
fiction. A proposal if you are writing nonfiction.
But, if you can craft a strong hook for your book, you’ll be confident when talking to others
about your book and know that it will catch their interest. And if you use that hook to craft a
strong pitch (an in-person conversation) or a strong query (an email about your book), you’ll
entice someone to learn more about your book.
Do you know that if you are writing a nonfiction book and intend to go with an independent
press or a traditional publisher, you don’t write the entire book first? Instead, you write three
strong chapters and the proposal which includes parts like About the Author, and Promotion, and
more. Writing a proposal shows you whether you have enough material for a book and whether it
is about a topic that readers are currently interested in. Even if you intend to self-publish, the
proposal keeps you organized as you write the book and, later, proves a useful tool for marketing
If you are writing fiction—or memoir—and this is your first book, writing a synopsis before you
write the book helps you discover plot holes, the muddle in the middle, and other weak points. If
you’ve already written the first draft (or two), creating the synopsis will reveal where revisions
or tweaks are needed to make the story stronger.
Hooks, pitches, queries, synopses and proposals require a different kind of creativity and mindset
than what you used for your book because they are essential marketing tools, ones you can learn
to write that showcase you and your book.
As with any other writing you do, the more you do it, and the more you learn about how to do it,
the less intimidating it becomes.
Paula Chaffee Scardamalia
Paula is the author of In the Land of the Vultures, Tarot for the Fiction Writer, and Weaving a Woman’s Life: Spiritual Lessons from the Loom. She has been a writer almost as long as she has been a reader. Paula holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Weaving with a focus on fantasy. In addition to her writing career, Paula is also an accomplished weaver, her book, Weaving a Woman’s Life: Spiritual Lessons from the Loom, has received recognition and awards, such as Foreword Magazine’s Bronze award for Book of the Year in the category of Self-Help. Her interest in earth-based spiritualities led her to studies in shamanic dream work. Using the pattern awareness of the weaver, the word crafting of the writer, the ritual work of the high priestess, and the awareness of myth and fairy tale of the tarotist and dream worker, Paula helps writers and other creatives tell their stories with power and passion and ease. To learn more about Paula’s practice visit her blog on Divining the Muse.