Recently, an independent author who hopes to land a publishing contract this time around hired me to write a book proposal for her latest nonfiction book. She’s an experienced author, but she also knows what she doesn’t know. In her own words, “There is no point in reinventing the wheel when someone else already does it (writing a proposal) well. I think my time would better be served doing what I do best, teaching through writing.”
That sentence got me to thinking about how (as writers) we learn not just from reading, but also from the writing we do. One of the things I love most about my job is the collaborative work I do with authors. There is always a takeaway for me, and more important, there is a takeaway for my author/client.
The author who hired me to write her book proposal understands her personal strengths and weaknesses, and she appreciates the value of hiring someone to do something that might take her weeks of extra time to learn to do well. She’s willing to invest in her writing career by hiring a professional who has the expertise she doesn’t, which frees her up to do what she does best—write. She’s actually making money by spending money.
But there is an added benefit to her: once we’ve completed our collaboration on her book proposal, she will have a very clear idea of how to write a complete proposal for her next book if she chooses to do so.
You see, I too love to teach through writing. As we work together to create and sculpt her book proposal, we both learn. The author spends many hours researching a subject and sharing all her knowledge in a manuscript that she hopes will teach her readers something useful and valuable to them; I spend hours helping her choose just the right words and phrases and putting them together into a package that we hope will catch the eye of an agent or publisher.
And we each come away from this collaboration enriched by the other person’s strengths, because together we can accomplish something neither one of us could do, or do as well, without the other writer.
Collaboration is such an important part of a writer’s life. Many articles have been written about the solitary nature of writing, but when we collaborate with others—through writing partners, critique groups, beta readers, blog followers, and editors—we enrich our writing lives exponentially.
By the time I finish writing this proposal, I’ll have a great deal more knowledge about a subject that interests me, and my client will have a killer proposal and the skill to write the next one on her own if she chooses to . . . and we’ll have both gained something of real value through teaching and writing.
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Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be.
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