I’m a one for specifics. I often b-p-m (bitch, piss, and moan) about SPECIFICS when discussing query letters and synopses, and now I’m b-p-m’ing about it in book proposals. In a word, vague bites it. If you’re going to mention The Big HooHa Name in your proposal, then I really appreciate it when you back that up with specifics.
Here is an example of what I mean…something that drives me a bit batty because I see it so much in the promotion plan section of book proposals:
“Joe Bogglesfart is head of Big HooHa Group and has promised to help promote my book any way he can.”
What does this mean? It’s lovely you mention a Mr. BigPants, but how does his name and position specifically play into helping promote your book?
- Is he going to have you on his radio show?
- Is he going to host a signing event and make sure all the local media is there to capture your smiling mug?
- Does he have the stuffing to get you on the Today Show?
- Will he climb to the top of Mt. Everest and give a big shout out to the yaks?
See, without specifics, I consider this a throwaway statement because it has no meaning.
On the other hand, this is very helpful:
“I am long-life friends with Joe Bogglesfart, who is host of the popular morning show, The Anorexic Yak. He has promised to have me on his show upon release of my book.”
This lets me know that I may be able to anchor some national buzz for your book should this appearance come to pass.
I know it’s fun to be able to toss around important names because we hope that importance will leech over to us. But it has to mean something. The name Antonio Banderas will naturally have me breaking out in a post-menopausal sweat, screeching, “Where? Where? Let me at ‘im!” But unless Tony has offered to do a commercial on prime time TV discussing my brilliance, then he’s little more than a name that has no meaning attached to it.
Another pet peeve that drives me to mainline rotgut gin at noon is the promise of a Mr. BigPants foreword. Unless you really have that promise in the bag – preferably already written – then avoid saying it. I’ve seen all sorts of promises like this only to find out, after digging deeper, that well…um…er…Mr. BigPants’ foreword isn’t forthcoming after all.
It may be perfectly legit, and you thought you really did have that promise, but it looks a bit suspect if you’re standing in my Nikes. Avoid the problem by keeping it under your hat. If it does come through, think how your editor will do the happy happy joy joy dance and sing your praises ’til the beagles stop howling. After all, the fact that a big name has offered to write a foreword isn’t a selling point to me. Your book is the selling point, and everything is else is gravy.
I tend to think of this name-dropping thing as query-stuffing in much the same manner as when Mary Katherine Horner used to stuff her bra in sixth grade. It was as phony then as query-stuffing is now. I realize authors stuff their queries with big names so I’ll get all slobbery and ask for pages. And I may have done that many years ago, but now, after a few bumps and burns, I’m harder to impress.
It all comes down to the book. If the book and the author’s personal platform speak for themselves, then “big name” is simply icing on the cake. That way, if things fall through, I’m not weeping in my margarita.
In other words, no try to foolz us, ‘cos we getz mad.