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How to write a memoir

We get loads of enquiries from writers wanting to write their own life story. Sometimes it’s just a personal project. Sometimes it’s for friends and family. Sometimes it’s intended for commercial publication. But the question we’re asked is always the same. Where do I start? That’s an easy one. Follow the rules below. 1: Tend Your Expectations Writing your life story down is massively worth doing, but please don’t think that it’s easy to get published. It’s not, if you’re after commercial publication. Only the best stories will get taken on by literary agents and publishers, and only then if they are really well written and well told. Of course, you can always self-publish, too. 2: Keep It Simple Many memoirs fail because they try to over-complicate. Keep it very simple, but be sure to do the simple things well. That means: Start at the beginning and move forwards chronologically from there. (If you’re not doing this, have a good reason, and be talented at it.)Keep the reader in your shoes. Talk about what you saw, what you did, what you felt. Stay in the present moment of your story.Don’t digress.Don’t tell your story in diary form, unless you keep a journal as compelling as Sylvia Plath’s. A diary is a very stop-start type of experience. You need to write a flowing narrative that keeps the reader engrossed.Don’t lecture.Remember to stay descriptive. You may remember what Heathrow looked like in the 1950s, but most of us don’t, so tell us. That’s why we’re reading your book. 3: Research Research the market. Find out how professional, published memoirs are written. See how those writers handle the things you need to deal with. One book we recommend you look at is Please Don’t Make me Go by John Fenton. We recommend this for two reasons. One: we worked on it with John, so we’re fond of it. Two: it’s a masterclass in memoir writing. Very simple, but very, very good. Other memoirs of note might be Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth, Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Nafisi Azar, or Where am I now by Mara Wilson. Look at these and other memoirs you like and ask yourself what all these have in common. It could be a poignant insight into off-piste topics (Mara Wilson’s musings as a former child star turned writer), or a knack for colouring the ordinary to make it unusual, compelling (Jennifer Worth’s years as a midwife in London’s East End). There may be other great, well-written memoirs from celebrities you like. What Happened by Hilary Rodham Clinton might be a compelling memoir, but a readership was already in place for her. Publishers would have considered this (before looking at a manuscript) when offering her a book deal, so try to pick out books from relatively unknown writers (or unknown before publication) wherever you can when researching the market. Also, do get a proper idea of length. For commercial publication, and to have a chance with a literary agent, you’ll probably want to produce a manuscript of between 70,000 and 100,000 words. If you are much longer or much shorter than that, you can pretty much forget about publication almost irrespective of content. Finally, although you are writing about your own life, you may well find that some research really does wonders for what you are talking about. Let’s say you were working in Iranian oil fields in the 1950s. You’ll remember a lot, but you’ll have forgotten things, too. The more you can research that time, the more you may spark your memory. 4: Take Care With Your Style If you want to grip a reader, to make sure that your words and your story hold the attention, then you must take a lot of care with your style. That means you can’t just write as you speak. It means you need to get in the habit of challenging yourself to write clearly, forcefully, visually, so the reader can see exactly what you are telling them. For more tips on good writing, please check tips on prose style. 5: Seek Feedback Once you’re properly stuck into your project, why not come to us with the first 10,000 words or so? That’s far enough into it that we can give you detailed advice on what is and isn’t working in your writing, and how to improve where needed. The advice will cost, but for a project as important as this, it can be worth the investment. Alternatively, if you prefer to plough through and come to us with a complete manuscript, we’d be delighted to work with that, too. We’ll tell you whether your writing is the sort that a literary agent or publisher might be interested in. If it is, then we can advise on next steps regarding agents. 6: Enjoy Don’t let writing your life story become anything but a pleasure and a joy. This is your story. Enjoy telling it and be proud of it. You deserve it. Your Life Story If you’ve come through to this page, you’ve perhaps been through challenging times and have a story to tell. As far as publishing that story goes, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the market for inspirational true life stories (also called inspirational memoirs) is still fairly hot. The bad news – you guessed it – is that competition is intense and only the best manuscripts are taken on by literary agents. If you have a story to tell, please ask yourself these questions first: How will you feel if your story never gets published, or even accepted by a literary agent?How will you feel about commercializing your story?Can you tell your story in an emotive and unique way to connect with readers?How will you feel about doing PR and other publicity work? If your responses to these questions are negative, then ponder before going any further. If your answer is that you still want to go ahead, then read on. Cathy Glass Shares Her Tips Cathy Glass is bestselling author of seventeen books. True life stories, or inspirational memoirs as they are also known, have enjoyed so much success in the last ten years that they have become a genre in their own right, often separate from biography. My own first book Damaged, in which I told the story of a child I fostered, spent three months at the top of the bestseller charts. Since then Please Don’t Take My Baby, and Will You Love Me? have also been at number one, with all my other fostering stories going into the Top 10 for weeks. To date, I have sold millions copies of my books around the world, and they have been translated into ten languages. Is there a formula for writing memoirs like there is for Mills and Boon romance? One that I can pass on? Not a formula as such, but having spent some time pondering how I write these books, I have come up with a few suggestions which may be of use if you are about to embark on memoir writing (more covered in my book). If you are writing your own memoir, as opposed to ghost-writing for someone else, you will know your story better than anyone, and here lies your strength. Write straight from your heart. Think back and remember. When, and where did it all begin? Where were you? What could you smell and hear? What could you see through the window? What was going through your mind? Be there and relive it, although this may be very upsetting if you have suffered; but writing is cathartic and writing it out is a therapy in itself. Have an aim for your book (a remit) – a message you want to impart to your readers. It may be one of courage, faith, hope, or sheer bloody-mindedness. And remember when writing a true life story you have an emotional contract with your reader. You owe your reader honesty, and in return you will have your readers’ unfailing empathy and support. I have been completely overwhelmed by the thousands of emails I have received from readers who felt they knew me personally and were part of my family from reading my books. Their words of encouragement have been truly wonderful and are much appreciated. Some of these emails are on the blog on my website. Write scenes, not a monologue. Although the memoir is true it doesn’t have to be a diatribe of abuse and suffering. Write it as you would a gripping novel, building scenes, creating tension, and using cliff-hangers at the end of chapters to keep the readers’ interest. There will be highs and lows in your story, so keep the reader on a roller coaster of emotion. There will be some very sad scenes, some horrendous incidents, and some funny incidents. If there is constant and unrelenting degradation and abuse the reader will soon become desensitized and lose empathy, and therefore interest. Make your book episodic, describing in detail events that are of interest or highly poignant to your story. Leave out the mundane unless it is an intrinsic part of building the scene. You can kaleidoscope years into a couple of lines, or spread half an hour into two chapters as necessary. Your memoir should be approximately 85,000 words in length, with double line spacing, using a word processing package. If it is your first memoir, the agent and publisher may also want a detailed proposal, even if your book is already written. For writing a proposal, there are guidelines to follow, as there are for getting a literary agent. Read other books in the same genre, and consider how and why these books work. Good luck with your writing, and most importantly, enjoy it!
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How to Write a Non-fiction Book Proposal (with Examples)

I’ve written and published four works of non-fiction – and have been involved as a ghost or behind-the-scenes editor on a couple of other things too. Every single one of those books sold off the back off a simple book proposal. In no case, had I written more than about 10,000 words of text prior to the sales process. Two of those books, I sold for £4000 (about $6,000) each. The books sold reasonably well, given their fairly niche material, and they continued to generate an income of about £2000 a year for years afterwards. Nice outcome, right? But those were fairly niche books. (They were on the subject of writing and publishing, which, as proprietor of this website, I ought to know a bit about.) I also sold a book off the back of a non-fiction book proposal that had multiple publishers bidding for the rights, and ended up being sold to HarperCollins for £175,000 (or about $250,000). That was a two-book deal, admittedly, so you can divide the numbers by two to get a per book amount. But still: $250,000 for a proposal of less than 10,000 words? That’s crazy. Now, I’m not guaranteeing that kind of outcome for you. Assuming you can write really well, the ceiling price for your book proposal will be determined by its subject matter. My book on “How To Write” was a niche-type book for a niche-type audience and it earned a niche-type advance as a result. The book I sold for a lot of money had to do with British history, and was presented as the kind of book that you could give your dad for Christmas. The potential audience for that book was very much greater, so the advance was correspondingly greater too. But although I can’t guarantee outcomes, I can guarantee to show you how to write a book proposal that will really work for a literary agent and a publisher. I’ll provide a sample proposal and give you examples of what to do (and what not to do) as you put your proposal together. And we’ll start off by considering what publishers actually want from you. Their wants drive what you need to give them. In effect, we can just build a template book proposal where all you have to do is fill in the blanks. Easy, right? Write A Non-fiction Book Proposal In 4 Steps: Prepare a query letter – include a book overview, target audience, USP, writing CV, and motivation for writing.Add a bio – including a professional resume and platform, i.e. social media, blog, mailing list etc.And a market overview.You’ll also need to send sample chapters, book outline, and introduction. What Is A Book Proposal? And what do publishers want from it? A book proposal is a pitch to a publisher. Quite likely you reach that publisher via a literary agent, so the first pair of eyes on your work will be those of an agent, but either way, your final target is a publisher. So when you\'re writing a non-fiction book proposal you need to think about what makes your book stand out. Your pitch offers the publisher the opportunity to acquire a non-fiction book, authored by you, on the subject set out in your proposal. In exchange, the publisher will (assuming they’re keen to proceed): agree to publish your workpay you an advancepay you royalties if and when your advance is ‘earned out’ by book sales. You will receive a slice of that advance payment once a contract is agreed. The remainder of the advance will be paid out, typically, (a) on acceptance of a complete manuscript, (b) on hardback publication, and (c) on paperback publication, if you have one. If the book only comes out in one edition, the last two chunks will come as one. Clearly, publishers make their money by acquiring books with commercial potential, so it makes sense to pitch them with interesting ideas. But will your idea make any money for the publisher? Maybe, maybe not. There are dozens of dud proposals for every one good one, so any publisher will want to know: Subject: What do you want to write about?Audience: Why do you think anyone would be interested?Competition: What other titles are there in your area? Or, to be rather more accurate: what titles in your area have made money? That’s important, because those comparable books will form an important part of any acquiring editor’s in-house pitch at the time of acquisition.Angle: How does your book differ from everything else that’s out there? Why is the particular angle you bring feel urgent, necessary and compelling?Authority: What qualifies you to write on this topic? Why should anyone listen to you?Platform: What platform do you have to generate publicity or visibility for your book? Answers might include large followings on social media, or a regular broadcast presence, or a position as columnist on a major national newspaper or magazine.Title: It’s almost possible to overlook the title, just because it’s so damn obvious. But a great title counts for a huge amount. A good title should do two things. It should communicate what the book is about, but it should also do that in a sexy, edgy, novel, exciting way. A book called A Journey of Self-Discovery would be unpublishably bad. A book called Eat, Pray, Love could just be an international hit. Or just think how many extra sales Yuvral Noah Harari achieved by calling his first book simply Sapiens. That’s a huge subject with an utterly enticing one word hook. Perfect! Do likewise.Intended word count: Honestly? You won’t know this until you’ve written your book. But say something. 70-90,000 words would be about right for most memoir. A 100,000 word book would be about 350 pages in print, so think roughly how long you want your finished book to feel. Anything over 120,000 words will have a slightly epic quality for the reader (and be more expensive for the publisher to produce), so only aim for high or very high word counts if the subject matter is really worth it. (The American Civil War: yes. One somewhat interesting murder in Minnesota: no.) All that is to look at your proposal from a publisher’s point of view, but they have to think about things from a readers’ perspective as well. So they will also want to know: The pitch to the reader: How would you go about pitching the book to a reader, rather than to a publisher? Does that pitch feel compelling, or a bit flat?Writing skills: Can you write decently? What is the actual experience of reading your book going to be like?Detailed subject matter: What is your book actually about? It’s all very well to say (for example), that your book will be a history of Rome. And good – that’s clearly the kind of subject matter for which there is a perennial market. But what will be the actual, detailed, chapter by chapter content? You need to be able to outline that content, and do so in a way that will make sense to someone who has little prior knowledge of Rome’s history. Those questions have to be answered by the proposal you offer to the publisher or (normally, in the first instance) to a literary agent. In effect, your proposal will simply go through these questions one at a time and answer them in a way that will give the strongest possible reassurance to the people holding the checkbook. What Should Be In Your Book Proposal:A Template A non-fiction book proposal template might run roughly as follows. (Why only “roughly”? Well, several reasons, really. First, non-fiction is a very varied field, and the basic template will need to bend a bit depending on what’s on offer. Secondly, there’s no required industry-standard format, the way there is with screenplays. That gives you some wiggle room. And third, you may be stronger in some areas and weaker in others. There’s nothing wrong with constructing your proposal so as to make the most of your assets!) Right. So things may vary, but a good place to start is as follows: 1. A Covering Letter (Or Query Letter) Your covering letter will deal with the following elements: Purpose: Explain why you’re writing in the first place.Example: “Dear Annie Agent, I am writing to seek representation for the attached book proposal, A Puzzle in String”Subject matter: Explain what the book is about.Example: “My book is a popular science book that explains string theory in terms that laypeople can understand [etc etc].”Audience: Explain who you think will be interested.Example: “The book will appeal to anyone interested in understanding the most fundamental aspects of the universe we live in. It will appeal to broadly the same people as bought Steven Hawking’s Brief History of Time . . . etc, etc.”Angle: The world mostly doesn’t need more books. So why does it needs yours? Why is yours the one that readers will want to pick up, given the vast range of options they already have?Example: “My book differs from the other books on the market in that it …”Personal background: Explain (in brief) who you are.Example: “I am the Professor of Physics at XYZ University . . .”(Optionally) Motivation: In some cases it can help to explain why you felt driven to write this book.Example: If you were writing a book on silence, you might want to mention (say) that you had spent six months living, in silence, as a hermit.Documents: Explain what documents you are presenting.Example: “I attach the following documents . . .” A good letter will run to no more than two pages. (If you were a novelist, we’d suggest your letter run to no more than a single page, but the rules are a bit different for non-fictioneers. You have a little more room.) 2. A Professional Bio Your self-description needs to cover (usually) two elements: Here’s where you set out something like a professional resume. Even here, do bear in mind your audience. So let’s say you are a professor of physics. If you were applying for a job at the Harvard physics faculty, you’d presumbly list out your scientific papers in some detail. But you’re not. You’re talking to laypeople, so you can just say, “I have authored more than 70 scientific papers . . .”You should also set out your platform, assuming that you have one. That platform will include any way you have of reaching your target audience: social media, broadcasting, journalism, a blog, a mailing list – anything. Do note that publisher have pretty high standards here. Have 15,000 Twitter follows? OK, that’s impressive. That’s a lot more than I have. But you’d need several hundred thousand to move a publisher’s stony heart. Typically, you will either bring significant authority (“I’m a physics prof”) or a significant platform (“I have more than 2,000,000 followers on Instagram”).It’s pretty rare that an author brings both, but if you have both – brag. And what happens if you have neither platform nor authority? You’re scuppered, right? You don’t stand a chance. Not a bit of it. When I wrote This Little Britain, my history book, I had no relevant platform to offer, and I certainly wasn’t a recognised authority on the subject I was writing about. But so what? I had an interesting theme. I could write well. When agents and editors (and, ultimately, readers) saw my book, they just wanted more of it. And in the end, that’s the heart of the whole thing. In short, authority and platform are great, but if anyone tells you they’re essential – well, they’re just plain wrong. Great writing plus a great idea will work fine every time. Oh, and since I had neither platform nor authority, my book proposal for that book didn’t include a personal bio at all. I knew my agent would choose to say something about me to the publisher – but he’d just say, “Look, this guy isn’t an academic, but he writes really well and I think you’ll love his material.” That was enough. No one ever asked me for a resume at any point. 3. A Market Overview A market overview is also crucial. You’ll need to provide: A swift definition of your market as you see it. Be as precise as possible here. Don’t tell agents/publishers that your book will appeal to “all intelligent book buyers” or “anyone interested in science.” That’s marketing piffle and it’s not true. Define your audience as precisely as you canExample: “This is a book of popular physics, part of the broader popular science market. Because the book lies at the harder end of the science market, it’s likely to appeal to those science readers with past enjoyment of quantum physics, astronomy, …”Measures of engaged audience size: You want to give publishers some kind of metrics for the possible target audience – but be sober here, not expansive. If you are writing a book about Ireland, for example, it’s just stupid to say, “The worldwide population of Irish, Irish-American, and other Irish descended people is estimated at a staggering …” Yes, you may arrive at a large number that way, but it will be a large, meaningless number. Much better to say, “Declan O’Guinness’s recent TV series drew audiences of X, and Nuala FitzShamrock’s history of the Irish Faminine spent Y weeks on the NYT bestseller list.” You could even add non-media related metrics such as, “X% of Americans claim Irish descent, and of those Y% have visited Ireland at least once.” It’s quite hard to get useful measures of engaged audience size, but you are better off giving a few hard stats rather than a larger number of fluffier ones.Offer an overview of major recent titles plus, if you want some older classics – but publishers will certainly be focusing primarily on titles of the last 2-3 years. Don’t just list out the titles themselves, but include details of author, publisher, publication date, ISBN, page count, formats (eg: hardback, paperback, e-book, audio), plus price points for each. These things matter a lot to a publisher, because they’ll instantly be able to tell what kind of market currently exists for these books. (They can also check, which you can’t, what the sales history for these titles are.) So if the only current publishers for your chosen subject are academic publishers with books priced at $100+, it’s unlikely that a trade publisher will think that a mainstream market will exist for your book. You will want to provide data on at least 5 comparable titles, but 10 would be a better number to aim for.Provide any data you have on sales / prizes won / publicity achieved. This can be hard, by the way, because this is an area where publishers will have paid-for sources of data that you don’t have. All the same, it’s worth making some effort here, simply because you can show yourself to be a professional, market-aware author – something that every publisher loves to see! The easiest way to guesstimate approximate sales is by looking at Amazon sales ranking . . . just be aware that those rankings are very volatile, so they can be an unreliable guide.Example: “String Theory for Idiots, by Prof Quentin Quark (Pub: Penguin Random House, 2018) is currently ranked at #1,800 in Amazon.com’s overall bestseller list. Format, pricing and ISBN details are: …)”Angle: Crucially – provide a short summary of how your book differs from the competition. What makes yours special? Why does the market need your book? This last point is the crucial one. Sometimes, you might come across an idea that just hasn’t been done. In that case, just say so. To take the example of my This Little Britain, I wrote a book about British exceptionalism in all its forms. The central question was, effectively: in what ways does British history just look different from the histories of its European neighbours? Weirdly, no one had ever really taken that question as the subject for a book like mine, and it was of obvious commercial potential. A crucial part of the pitch for the book involved simply explaining what my idea was and pointing out that no one else had done it. Publishers were already half sold, right there. Yes, there were lots of history-of-Britain books – and those were the comparable titles I identified. But there was nothing taking my exact angle. And my angle was a good one. So the proposal sols, and sold very well. With my two books on writing and publishing, I couldn’t claim to have any earth-shatteringly new idea . . . but I could claim to bring a particular angle. (What was it? Well, weirdly, at that time there were a ton of “How To Write” type books out there, but there was nothing that just promised to be a completely comprehensive, non-gimmmicky resource for serious writers. So I offered to write that book – and teamed up with Bloomsbury who owned the strongest brands in the writing/publishing area. They liked the idea and we agreed a deal. I wrote the book in the two months it took them to generate a contract, and handed the book over almost literally as soon as the ink was dry.) In any case, the point here from your point of view is that you have to bring something new to the market you are writing for. It is the newness and urgency of that idea which will go a long way to determine whether your proposal succeeds in generating offers or not. 4. Sample Material So far, the material we’re offering to the publisher includes stuff about the book (your query letter, that market overview) and about you (the bio.) But we do also need to give publishers a really good taste of the work itself, which means you will also need to supply: A. Sample Chapters But you will also, mostly, need to include sample chapters from the book itself, to give the agent and publisher an idea of whether you can actually write. Can you write engagingly for a broad audience? Or do you have the capacity to turn fascinating ideas into a dry-as-dust ocean of boringness? If your book is narrative non-fiction, you will need to include the first three chapters from the book, because the narrative won’t make sense any other way. For subject-led non-fiction, the chapters can be non-contiguous. For This Little Britain, I just submitted a fairly random scatter of chapters – ones that were fun, engaging … and hadn’t required a whole heap of research to write. B. A Synopsis You need to give a detailed synopsis of the complete book. If you are writing narrative non-fiction, that can take the form of a regular synopsis, but probably a good bit longer than you’d offer for fiction. Aim for about 2,000 words, if you’re not sure – though again, these things are very variable. In some cases, indeed, you’ll find that narrative non-fiction – such as memoir or travel books – simply demand to be treated like the novels they resemble. And that will probably mean that you need to write the whole damn book, that a proposal will simply not be enough. Sorry! (Though you can always get a proposal over to an agent. At the very least, a good proposal will start a very useful conversation with an interested agent.) OK, so much for the narrative-type work. What about the more subject-led non-fiction? And the good news here is that you may be able to get away with relatively little. For each of the three non-fiction works for which I’ve submitted proposals, I basically offered a 3-4 page bullet-point style summary of content. Now, I should probably admit right away that (a) I’m lazy, (b) my writing track record enables me to be a bit lazy, with the implication – (c) – that you should probably offer more than 3 pages of bullet points. But still. If you’re writing, let’s say, Paleo Science: What’s fact, what’s myth, and what matters to you, a detailed skeleton outline should be fine. Don’t go crazy. C. An Introduction As well as sample chapters and a detailed outline, I strongly favour including the introduction that you intend to appear in the final finished book. That intro should act as a kind of manifesto for the book. It needs to proclaim, in effect, “Here’s why this topic is so important and so urgent that you have to fish $20 from your pocket right now this minute and buy this book.” The manifesto is partly a communication of facts. (For example: “If sea levels continue to rise at their current rates, 47% of lower Manhattan will be underwater by 2029.”) But it’s also partly a process of seduction. You are seeking to entice the reader into seeing the world your way. That’s where strong writing comes into its own – and indeed, this will probably the most important chapter you’ll write, as it’ll be the most influential in that buy/don’t-buy decision. Quite likely, you’ll find that actually writing that intro will bring your own project into greater focus, even for you. You’ll realise exactly what it is about your project that drives you so much. Communicate that passion to the reader, and you are onto a winner. How To Write A Terrible Book Proposal And also: how to write quite a good one! This entire post was in fact prompted by a sample book proposal I saw recently. The writer was a proper expert in his field. He was passionate about his knowledge. He could write decently. He felt that his material was incredibly important, and that sense of passion communicated itself freely and authentically in his writing. What’s more, his book had a clear and sizeable natural market. There was a real dearth of books offering the slant and angle that he could bring to bear. All good, right? Green lights all the way. Except . . . He wrote things like this: In 2015 I spent three months in the Himalayas investigating how young Tibetan monks and nuns were trained from the age of eight.  The purpose of their curriculum is … [then got into some detail on how those monks and nuns were trained.] And that’s good. (Because – wow! – this guy learned about the way Tibetan monks and nuns are trained. I want to know about that!) But it’s also terrible. Because the information is delivered in a way that drains all the exoticism, all the human interest, out of the anecdote. There wasn’t in fact even an anecdote. Just a piece of information offered without any human colour. Worse still, the proposed book was all about bringing higher human values into education. This drily delivered, almost ignored anecdote could actually work as a touchstone for the entire book. So if I had been writing that proposal, I’d have actually opened my introduction for readers with something like this: It’s not quite dawn. A rose light is creeping up the flank of Mount Yabbedeedoodha across the valley. Down in the still twilit valley, I can see water buffalo and yak drowsily munching.This is a time when all humans should still be in bed or, at best, brewing the first cup of coffee to get ready for the day ahead. Except that I’m not in bed and I’m not alone.I’m here in a hall of forty shaven-headed novice monks and nuns. The youngest of them is only eight. The oldest is sixteen. I’ve come here as a specialist in education, but I don’t feel very specialist in this crowd.I’m not here to teach anything. I’m here to learn. Now, OK, deathless prose that is not. But you get the point. It places the author and the reader in some very special place. Human. Specific. Exotic. Located in a precise place and time. The reader’s response is rather as it would be at the start of a novel. Why are we here? What’s going to happen next? What are these child-monks about to teach this Westerner? It’s those questions that compel attention. It’s that human anecdote which seduces the reader into the author’s project, and the author’s passion. If you can get your actual writing to strike the right seductive tone, you will succeed. And if not? Well, you will probably fail, because in the end readers will read your book for pleasure and interest. You need to deliver those things, or die. Want More Help With Your Book Proposal? If you want more help with your proposal, we’ve got plenty of help to supply: Get feedback on your proposal Get one of our professional editors to review your book proposal and give you detailed advice on what to fix and how to fix it. Our full range of editorial services is here. You probably want the agent submission pack service, but if that isn’t quite sufficient for your needs, just tell the office what you’re after and they’ll be able to sort you out. Learn in detail how to get published We have a fantastic video course on how to get published – it just tells you everything you could possibly want to know about how to find age Jericho Writers is a global membership group for writers, providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by signing up to our newsletter. For more writing articles take a look at our blog page or join our free writer\'s community. 
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What is creative writing in non-fiction?

‘Creative non-fiction’ is one of the trickiest terms in writing. Non-fiction means being factual. Creative means using imagination. Isn’t that a conflict? At one end, you have textbooks, how-to books, academic and professional work of every sort. In areas like this, factual expertise and clarity matters hugely. Imaginative writing and creative insight may actually get in the way. At the other end of the non-fiction writing game, you have some genuinely creative areas. Travel writing is one. Memoir and biography can be another. Factual reconstruction of particular historical episodes another. If you want to read a non-fiction book that reads exactly like a novel, then try Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. It’s completely true. But it reads like a novel. Capote, in fact, called it a non-fiction novel. It’s famous partly because of its genre-bending format. You can also find historians writing quite creatively (try Simon Schama’s Rough Crossings). And some of our own clients have used our help to achieve bestselling success in the memoir category, if you look for John Fenton’s Please Don’t Make Me Go, or Barbara Tate’s amazing West End Girls. Both these books had the freshness and creativity of novels. If you’re keen to write creative non-fiction, then you need to acquire a novelist’s skills but deploy them to your own factual ends. You can get a real quick survey of the core novelist’s tools on this blog. You can get a more in-depth guide to those skills by browsing our full set of writing resources. Either way, the core of creative writing in non-fiction is to create immediacy, to get close to character and to the drama of the unfolding moment. Using web-based resources is a good first step on the path to writing successful non-fiction, but it’s only a first step. Other bits of advice would be: Read a lot. You won’t succeed in non-fiction unless you know the market you’re trying to write for.Take a course. It’s one thing learning from books. It’s quite another getting personal feedback from a top tutor as you start to develop your skills. Courses these days can be quite cheap and can be done from home, so it’s not the hassle that it once used to be. We offer some brilliant courses, so check them out here. Depending on exactly what you’re writing, you may even find that a ‘how to write a novel’ course will be the right one for your particular project – but if in doubt, just ask.Start writing and get help. Finally – crucially – the only way you’ll learn how to write better is to start writing. Just get stuck in. You’ll learn masses simply by plunging in. Then, once you’ve got a good chunk of the manuscript written, you can get expert feedback on what you’ve done – what works, what doesn’t work, what you need to do to fix it. Using that support wisely can make all the difference between a book that publishers love, and one that just accumulates rejection letters. And whatever your project, good luck! More On How To Write A Book Link to: How to Write a Book (10 Doable Steps for New Writers) How To Write A step-by-step guide
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How to find a literary agent for non-fiction

Here’s how to find non-fiction literary agents, what kinds of non-fiction they’re looking for, and how to give them what they want. What Are Non-fiction Agents Looking For? All agents are looking for the same thing: saleable manuscripts that might make money. Whilst specialist or academic non-fiction isn’t on the cards (you’ll need a book proposal to pitch to publishers, in this instance), non-fiction literary agents are looking for: Anything celebrity-led, and written by or endorsed by that celebrity;A strong and compelling personal memoir;A funny, moving, exotic tale of travel;A popular science tome;A narrative-led history;A biography, if the subject in question is genuinely famous;A major new diet and motivational work;A strong, quirky one-off. What no one’s looking for is niche. Guidebooks in minor subject areas, books of local history, biographies of little-known subjects, aren’t sought after. These books may well sell to the right publishers, though mightn’t sell for enough money to make it worth an agent’s while to get involved. In such cases, it’s fine to approach publishers direct. The Secret To Getting An Agent Where Can You Find Non-fiction Literary Agents? Very few agents specialise in non-fiction. Most literary agents handle fiction and non-fiction, literary and commercial work. Some specialist non-fiction agents do exist, but you’re better off seeking a good all-purpose agent for your work. I’ve sold four non-fiction books myself, it didn’t occur to me to switch to a ‘specialist’ agent, and I’m quite certain that I wouldn’t have achieved a better outcome if I had done. What matters is the quality of the agent, not whether they specialise in a certain area. There are however exceptions to this general rule, namely: If you are writing a cookbook, health, diet or how to book, you may well want an agent who specialises in this niche. You may need a prolific presence first. It’s not an easy area to crack.If you want a ghost-writer to tell your story for you, you probably want an agent who has worked in this way with previous clients, but be realistic. Very few personal stories are interesting and commercial enough to justify the cost of ghost-writing so in general, if you want a story written, you’ll need to write it yourself (or ask us to help.) If you need more details, use agents’ websites to narrow down who’s interested in what, and do look at this guide on how to find a literary agent. How Can You Give Literary Agents What They Want? First, you need to decide what you are going to present to agents. With fiction, you always need to write the whole book. With non-fiction, you can often get away with offering agents a book proposal – that is, an outline version of the book you intend to write. If your book is strongly story-led (true of most memoir, for example), you’d be advised to write the whole thing before seeking agents. If your story is more subject-led, it’s usually fine to work off the back of a proposal. Second, you need to deliver a wonderful, saleable manuscript. That means: Strong, popular, entertaining writing (even if your subject is an extremely interesting one, people won’t want to read what you have to say about it if you write badly, so don’t).Write for the market. It’s obvious, but most non-fiction manuscripts aren’t written for the market. If you’re not sure what your market is, go to a bookstore and get the answer. Third, if you get knocked back by literary agents (non-fiction or generalist) – or if you want to give yourself the best possible chance before you approach them – then go and get professional advice. We’ve helped propel non-fiction books into print. Authors brought us ideas, talent, work ethic. We brought knowledge of the market, contacts, and expertise in writing. Put those things together, and you can have a powerful combination with eventual success. That’s how to find a literary agent for non-fiction. Best of luck. More On Uk Literary Agents Link to: UK Literary Agents, the Complete List (with Links to Agent Profiles) LITERARY AGENT LIST For every genre
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