With Palestine’s application for statehood to be heard by the UN on 24th September, we are working great guns to get a proposal in order, so our ‘taking Sesame Street to Palestine’ pitch hits agents’ and publishers’ desks as the world’s eyes turn towards Palestine and Israel.

I’ll not lie: this is the first time I’ve written a non-fiction proposal and I’m nervous. I want it to be all it *can* be. I want it to be perfect because I believe in this book utterly. But I’m intimidated for a number of reasons, that I shan’t laden you with, but when I read Jurgen Wolff’s comment in Your Writing Coach, I felt a touch better:

‘Once you realize that pitching is really just another version of what you love to do–telling stories–it loses its power to intimidate.’

Well. Here’s hoping!

The process of taking Sesame Street to Palestine sets the brain tripping: there’s so much that could sell the book, but what it’s about and who it’s by is reason enough! From personal tragedies to political conflict, waiting at checkpooints to Palestinians laughing in an Israeli studio.

Seeing the wood for the trees is still somewhat challenging, but, by working through the most comprehensive version of a proposal template — suggested by a particularly splendid chap, Andrew Wille — I’ve managed to put together a reasonable first draft. But it needs a lot of work, so I’ll go back daily to make changes until I’m happy with it.

How to write a non-fiction proposal feels pretty complicated as well, with all sorts of market research involved. Despite my 6-page proposal draft, I’m trying to work out what exactly needs to be sent to an agent. A one-page information sheet that gives an agent the basic idea of the proposed book? Or a wad of papers that covers USP, content, competition and market?

When I know, I’ll let you know. But doing as many versions as I can is proving enormously helpful in organising the story.

The key, it seems, is not to overwrite … which seems fairly sensible advice to live by, really.

One little gem I *have* picked up from most of the books and sites I’m using for research is that non-fiction books are easier to pitch, and are more likely to be taken on.

Interestingly, my two writing projects converge here a bit: I asked a number of parents what kinds of books they read for pleasure and 95% of them said popular non-fiction.

I’ll be honest: that makes me pretty happy, because writing non-fiction is definitely my favourite type of writing 🙂


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