Overt Bed Birth

It's official: I can now afford to be frivolous on the internet again. In recognition of this fact, I have just paid a visit to the Internet Anagram Server, where I discovered that the verb to bird can be rearranged into 438 different anagrams, including rivet throbbed and this post's title. (If you're wondering, the two best anagrams for peter cashwell are pellet chewers and chapel swelter.)

How have I obtained this license to anagram? By finally getting to the end of a long process of drafting, editing, and sending out a manuscript for The Verb 'To Border'. The final and in some ways most challenging part of this process was putting together something I'd never created before: a book proposal. This is standard for most nonfiction books, and in fact is often crafted by the writer before he even begins writing the manuscript. As I learned, it's typically a short overview of the book's overall subject, an outline of the chapters in which this overview will be explained, and a short excerpt--around ten percent--of the manuscript itself, totaling anywhere from twenty to fifty pages.

Most agents prefer looking at a proposal, rather than a complete MS, because the former is waaay shorter and can easily be digested for even briefer discussions with publishers about sales, and many nonfiction writers like writing them because they can sell their books and get some cash in hand without first having to spend a huge amount of time, effort, and/or money on researching and writing the manuscript. It's not a bad system, I suspect, but it took me a while to get into the idea because I simply didn't know what I was doing.

This is a somewhat unusual state for a writer who's had a book published already, but in my defense, my ignorance had a reasonable foundation. I have never had an agent. The first book I wrote was sold to the publisher without such a proposal--Paul Dry bought it after hearing about me through Readerville.com and looking at some excerpts. And it simply wouldn't occur to me to write a proposal before writing a book, because such a proposal might end up being inaccurate; it's rare for me to begin writing something that ends up exactly the way I expected it to. The Verb 'To Border' is very definitely not the book I thought it was when I started work on it in 2005; had I written a proposal for it then, I might feel like a fraud today.

But the good news: I finished the book, I finished the proposal, I sent proposals out, and I'm now obsessively watching my email. This part, at least, is familiar. And luckily, when one is determined to spend his days a few clicks away from his mailbox, there's plenty of frivolity on the internet to keep him occupied between trips.

llama.jpg I'll let you know what develops.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on August 19, 2012 10:34 AM.

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