Nearly every author I meet wants to be traditionally published. But the path to get a book deal can feel darn near impossible. Not only do you have to create a book proposal, which is a massive project in and of itself, but you then need to pitch agents. Where is an aspiring author to start?
Well, Richelle Fredson is here to help in this week’s episode. As a book proposal coach and publishing consultant, Richelle has worked with aspiring and published authors to create impactful book concepts and competitive book proposals. In this episode, we cover:
- What a nonfiction book proposal is and why authors need one
- The key components of a nonfiction book proposal
- How an author’s platform, credentials, and other aspects factor into their ability to get signed by a publisher
- Common misconceptions about the process of looking for an agent and landing a deal
- Tips for making your proposal stand out and getting your dream book deal
Richelle is the former director of publicity and book marketing for Hay House, and also served in acquisitions, so she knows her stuff. This was a fantastic conversation—don’t miss it!
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Transcripts for Episode 123
These transcripts were generated by robots, not writers.
Stacy: Welcome. Welcome. We have been talking all things books over the last month and a half or so, and this conversation would not be complete without talking book proposals. A lot of times when people come in to potentially work with me, one of the things that they’re asking me is if I help them write a book proposal.
Stacy: And the answer is not really a lot of the things that I do will feed into a book proposal, but coaching on a book proposal is really a unique skill set. And if you want support on a book proposal, you should find a book proposal coach. And there are a lot of things to know about book proposals, like the fact that it is a lot of work. I think a lot of people think that it’s just this simple, quick thing. You write an email, send some sample chapters, and that’s just not how it is. So today we’re going to dig into all of that with our guest. I’m so excited to welcome Richelle Fredson. She’s a book proposal coach and publishing consultant, working with aspiring and published authors to create impactful book concepts and competitive book proposals.
Stacy: Many of Richelle’s clients go on to receive impressive offers from their dream publishers. Her recent clients include Farnosh Chirabi, which is a mutual connection of ours. Chrissy King, Jennifer Racciope, I hope I’m saying that correctly. Terry Cole, Vanessa Marin, and many more. Formerly, Richelle was the director of publicity and book marketing for Hay House, also serving in acquisitions. She is the host of the excellent podcast bound and determined, where she interviews industry experts and authors. And she’s the founder of the book Proposal Blueprint program. Welcome, Richelle.
Richelle: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Stacy: It’s been such a joy getting to know you recently. We just met a few months back, but I just admire so much about your work. And when I look at the way that you support people and that you just ethically move about the publishing industry, you really show up with values, with your values and serve your clients so well. I’m just so excited to get to share your work and your story with our listeners and viewers today. And I know you have a backstory. I actually haven’t gotten to hear it yet. We all have a nerdy backstory to how we ended up in this very nerdy industry of publishing and what is yours. How did you end up going into publishing and then into the work that you do today?
Richelle: Yeah, so I think a lot of people that end up in this industry might say that they were the kid under the covers with the flashlight, reading their books at night, long past bedtime, which I think is the case for you. I was the kid that could not finish a book. In fact, my parents are still completely shocked that I work in publishing because my attention span was so short. I would read a bit, and then I was on to the next thing and I’d come back and it would take me ages to finish a book until the Nancy Drew series came out. And then I was able to really sink in to my love for writing and reading. And when I was a kid, I’m the youngest of three, I would say that I was probably the best kid of the three.
Richelle: Don’t interview them. And I found myself riding my way out of a lot of sticky situations. So when I thought that I might be getting in trouble for something, or I knew I might be coming home with a grade that was less than we would want it to be, I found myself writing and reasoning and negotiating and pitching for why it is that was happening. So I was actually a writer from a young age that, I don’t know that I would have recognized it as a talent or a skill, but it is how I would process, certainly process information. I went to school and studied communications, pr, advertising, and worked right out of college at a big agency in San Diego that did huge marketing and advertising campaigns for brands like Sony, McDonald’s, Chicken of the Sea, Tuna, pre Jessica Simpson comment, unfortunately.
Richelle: And I just thought, this is it. I’m so thrilled to be in pr and advertising. Until I wasn’t. I wasn’t fulfilled. It felt like I was doing the job I’d always wanted, but it didn’t feel like how I wanted it to feel. And I got a call from a publisher in southern California, and they said, we’d love for you to come up and do an interview with us. And I thought, oh, books. No, I’m thinking brands. I wanted something really glitzy. And I was like, books? No, I’m not a book person. And they said, well, come up. I think you might enjoy our culture and what we’re doing here. I thought, I’m, what, 22? Why not go check all this out? It ended up being hay house.
Richelle: I ended up falling in love, just like they said that I would to the fact that these books were changing people’s lives. And I realized that was really the impact I was looking for. Not big money, huge campaigns, big press boxes and tours and things like that. I really wanted to be part of a process that was going to really help the individual and change somebody’s life. So I said yes and spent 15 years there, actually.
Stacy: Wow, that’s amazing. I mean, that one decision set you on this whole trajectory of where you are today. When you think back to that time there, those 15 years, is there a story that stands out to you in that impact that you were able to help have through books?
Richelle: Yeah. I mean, the funniest thing was actually on the day that I interviewed, right? I came in a blazer, my suit, with my leather bound portfolio, stilettos. I was ready to do the thing. And then the woman walks in who’s interviewing me in yoga pants, flip flops, like a sweat headband, like she had just come from the gym. But that wasn’t the case, that everyone there was just casual and comfy, and we don’t need to put on airs about what we do. We’re just going to be ourselves and do all of that. And she never opened the portfolio. She just sent me home with a sealed box and said, if you’re okay with everything that’s in this box, go home, have a glass of wine, open it up. If you’re cool with everything that’s in here, the job is yours. I’m, like, intrigued.
Richelle: So I go home, I get on the phone with my mom. I’m like, I don’t know. I’m in the middle of the Sony violunch, right in my day job, and I’m about to open this mystery box. I don’t know what’s going on. And I open it up, and it’s sort of a diverse array of what they were publishing at the time. There were things about angels and fairies, and then there were things about leadership, and there were things about meditation. And it was all so new to me that I was like, okay, I may not understand this world yet, but I am certainly intrigued by it. So, of course I said yes to the job.
Richelle: And after a few years in, the biggest blessing was getting to do events and see in person all the people that were affected and impacted by the work, people that would line up for book signings and things like that. And just say, this healed me in a way. This got me to see things differently. It opened my eyes to something new, and it just was so powerful, really seeing how books could shift somebody’s life.
Stacy: I mean, it’s so interesting because in the work that you and I do, we see that for the author, we actually get to go through that with the author. But I always think about. I think about those authors as being a pebble thrown into a still pond, and their work has this ripple effect. So when I think about the work that I do, and this would be for you as well, it’s like I’m getting to help throw that little pebble, and it’s making all of these amazing ripple effects through the work that they’re doing. I think that’s what the power is with writing, both for the author and for the reader. So I’d love to hear a little bit about the author side, because I know one of the things that people come to you for is helping them get their dream book deals.
Stacy: So can you talk a little bit about that? And how do you work with authors and I’d love to maybe hear a story of an author that you’ve worked with and kind of what that journey was like to get them to that dream book deal.
Richelle: Yeah, certainly. So I think first it would be important for me to say that the last eight years that I was with hay house, I was also in acquisitions, which meant that I was now on the front end of the process and the very back end. So I got to sit with agents and prospective authors and read book proposals, results, and decide what was going to be the right investment for us. But then I also got to manage the team on the back end that would bring it out into the world. So I got to be on the kind of conceptual side of it, and then I got to be on the promotional side of it. So when I started my own business, I really just wanted to sit on that front end of the process.
Richelle: I wanted to help people come up with the right idea at the right time for them. So I think that for first time authors, even second and third time authors, we can get really caught up in the idea of what’s going to sell well and not actually consider what do I want to write, right. What would feel good to write, what would be joyful, what would be a pleasing process, but also what is going to support me and my growth and my business and take me down the road for the next five years. So when people come to me, oftentimes they are either certain of the idea of what they want to write, they just know with certainty, and I’m probably going to kind of mold that a little bit.
Richelle: Or they come and they just say, I know I have a book in me. I don’t know what it is yet. So book proposals are really meant to workshop that process, and they’re complicated documents. Right. There’s a lot of goals that happen on the front end of that process. You are creating the blueprint for this book that you want to write, which means in that document, you can take risk in a way that you can’t when you’re writing a full manuscript. You get to chart, you get to backspace, you get to play with language. You get to see how it feels when you look at it and say, is this the book that’s meant for me right now? But you’re also handling business aspects, right? You’re trying to stand out in a crowded market.
Richelle: You’re trying to answer all the agents and publishers questions before they even have to ask. So it has a big assignment, this one document, but a lot of people don’t realize the importance of a book proposal. And like you said, they think it might be something quick, a query letter, a couple of chapters, something like that. Typically, the proposals that I develop are 90 pages, sometimes more. There’s a lot of thought and strategy and heart that goes into that process for me. I need your personality in there. Right. Personality driven writing. So I think a lot of times we think, okay, so if I have to do this big 90 page document, it must be buttoned up, it must be professional. Everything comes down to this document, and people forget to put themselves in it.
Richelle: So that’s my biggest task from the beginning, is the right idea and making sure that you’re in this document.
Stacy: It’s such a big project. And I know when I wrote the proposal for the book that I’m currently working on, it took me, well, I was kind of working on it loosely for a couple of years, but when I really dove in and really wrote it took me a good, solid six months of very regular work on it. Unfortunately, I had not met you yet when I started working on it, but I did engage. I have a mentor who’s been such a great support over the years and is an expert as well in book proposals. And so just out of the goodness of his mentorship, heart reviewed it for me and also had other people look at it.
Stacy: And that was one of the things that, to your point on voice, that when I revised it, that was what I did mainly, other than I had some marketing components. I added a couple of sections, but really, it was a little boring the first time, and it needed more heart and voice and fun and energy and that piece of it. It’s so easy to think, oh, they’ll think I’m weird or that they’ll think that this is a strange project, but you’re saying they want it, right?
Richelle: And I always tell my clients, I have had book proposals sell for significant six figure deals using hashtags and f bombs or whatever is true to your voice. Like, I want you to write it like you’re saying it to a friend. And I think it gives people permission, first of all, to just fully be themselves in their writing. But it’s great practice for when they sit down to write their full book and you would ask for a story. And one of my favorites that happened to two or maybe three clients in the last couple of years where a publisher had actually reached out to them and said, we love your content. We’ve seen some of your workshops. We’d love for you to write a book. We’re going to offer you $20,000 as an advance. Would you like to come publish with us?
Richelle: Luckily, these people found me to have a conversation, and I said, write a book proposal first, because in my belief, the book proposal is the biggest piece of self advocacy you can do for yourself in the publishing process, because it allows you time to develop what the book is, but it also gives you the power of choice so that publisher will still be there when you send your proposal to them, and they could be part of the conversation. But you’re not advocating for yourself if you say yes to the first person knocking on your door because you don’t know what the book is yet, you haven’t yet determined your value in this book. And so all of these clients returned with book proposals. Some went with that original publisher, some didn’t.
Richelle: But all of them, ten and twelve, x’d their advance offer after doing a book proposal. So it’s not only lucrative to do it, but it gave them the confidence and the validation they needed and the understanding, deeply of what this book was going to be, to go and find the right aligned partners for them.
Stacy: I love those stories. That is incredible. And one of the things you didn’t say this, but really came out for me when you were telling that story is that is such an abundance mindset about your work and value in the world. It would have been really easy for them to go, oh, somebody chose me. Okay, where do I sign? But instead, they sought out an expert and said, hey, I had this offer. I believe in my work. What do you think about it? Tell me what I should know. And they had that abundance mindset going back and earning those bigger deals. That’s incredible. The other piece that I think is really important to pull out of all the things that you just said, even if they had gone back and the deal was the same, so let’s just say that awesome result hadn’t happened.
Stacy: A book proposal is, we will break this down shortly. But a lot of it is planning your book and your marketing strategy and writing some of the books. So these are all things that they’re going to serve you. It’s not going to harm you. It’s not going to be a waste of time down the road. So, with that said, Richelle, do you have a definition for a nonfiction book proposal that you can offer our listeners, our viewers, and can you give us just, like, a high level breakdown of what is included in a well crafted book proposal?
Richelle: Good questions. I often refer to a book proposal as your ticket for entry. Right. So if anyone wants to traditionally publish. That’s where their heart is set. And they want to write a nonfiction book. The decision will come down to the book proposal. Right. They’re not going to read your full manuscript, so it becomes the everything document, and we shouldn’t be fearful of that. Right. It’s our chance to really show them who we are. But it’s partly determining your fit in the market. Right. Publishing is a for profit business. Right. So we want to take the guesswork out of it for publishers when we pitch inside of a proposal. So we want to look at who your ideal reader is. Right. Why this book right now and why you? What’s the problem you’re solving? What’s the solution you’re presenting?
Richelle: How are you going to promote this book, not just on launch, but for the two years following and the six months before? Right. There’s a strategy there as well. We want to signal to publishers that we understand what it takes to promote a book in this market. We want to show them that we’ve put thought into how we’re unfolding the information within our books. Right. We want personality. We want manifesto. So I’m a Leo. Rising and moon. Very Leo. Okay. So I always say bring the drama. I love to create book proposals with drama because I can tell you from being in acquisitions, we’re reading a lot of proposals every day. If you want to stand out, give me the movie trailer. Right. Give me the movie trailer for your book. That’s what I want. I want to be dropped into a moment.
Richelle: I want to feel it. I want to feel irresistible. I want to turn those pages. And the truth is, in acquisitions, if they aren’t bought in the first couple of pages, they’re onto the next thing. Right. So we have a big job to do. So drama is part of that. There are seven key sections in a book proposal that all have to be handled with their own strategy, with their own voice. So it’s a big job and one to be taken seriously, but it can also be so much fun when people.
Stacy: Are writing their book proposals with you, what roadblocks do they face? Where do they tend to get stuck and need support to kind of get over those roadblocks?
Richelle: Yeah. It’s emotional every time, really. And I think that’s so normal and so natural for going through something creative. So I usually say it’s vulnerability. Overwhelm in comparison. Vulnerability is the oshit. I’m doing this thing. I’m putting myself out there, putting the story out there. This is real and it’s scary. Right. Perfectly valid. The overwhelm is, oh, there’s so much to do. There’s so many steps to take. I don’t know if I can do this. Do I have what it takes? It’s the mass amounts of information that feel overwhelming to the author when in reality, especially in book proposal work, we’re taking it one bite at a time, and then the comparison is just also very natural. Looking around and going, oh, there’s already so many books on my topic. There’s so many voices that are maybe bigger than mine, bigger platforms, more credentials.
Richelle: We start to diminish our value just in looking around at the market. But one of the first exercises I actually give my students to combat some of those emotional blocks is to say, go on Amazon, put in some search terms for what your future book will be, and I want you to get into the one and two star reviews. Not to be snarky, not to dismiss this wonderful author’s work, but to get fired up about how you may be able to fulfill what people were left wanting. So if people say there’s too many books on the market, and I say, google or get on Amazon and put in search terms for maybe a leadership book, and they come back and say, oh, my gosh, people said I was so motivated, but then I didn’t know what to do.
Richelle: And I know I’m giving really tactical advice. There’s a place for me, right? They start to see where they fit into the wedge of what people are left wanting in the market. And so they start to get fired up. And some of that comparison and vulnerability floats away because they go, okay, I actually can fill this gap.
Stacy: I think it’s so easy when you’re in a little fear spiral like that, which is so normal. Like you said, in any creative endeavor, when my clients tell me that they’re facing writer’s block or they have this inner critic, I’m like, welcome to authorhood. This is your experience.
Richelle: Now, I say you’re right on time.
Stacy: Good job. Right on time. A lot of times I like to remind them that the people that you look up to are just people that also had to start in a place where they were looking at other people who were where they wanted to be. One of the really practical things that I often suggest people do. And I love your one star reviews suggestions. So totally going to steal that with credit, please. But I also recommend that they go find their earliest stuff. So their podcast, go listen to the first episodes, their YouTube channel, go find the oldest videos you can find. Find their oldest blog posts, whatever you can find to see where they actually began. Because everybody has to start in a place where they are. There is no other option. The other option is you just don’t fulfill your dreams.
Stacy: I guess that’s the other route that you can take. But taking a step to write your book, whatever route you end up taking to do that, you are actively voting in the direction of the life that you want. Which makes sense that is freaking terrifying for people, right?
Stacy: Because as long as I’m not taking action, I’m not failing. I’m still dreaming. But once I start taking action, and if it doesn’t go a certain way, then now I’m. I’m potentially, like, failing. But most of the time, maybe something doesn’t happen exactly the way you think, but it opens up something entirely different.
Richelle: Yep. I always say, too, the proposal process especially, is so much self discovery, right? And I think what happens is the book process can feel daunting. And so people wait for that right moment of inspiration or motivation. And one of my dear friends, Terry Trespicio, always says, motivation comes by taking action. It’s not just something bestowed upon you. It’s not this moment that you go, oh, that’s the day I was motivated. Motivation builds from taking small steps and taking action. And so a lot of authors will say, I’m just waiting for inspiration. I’m waiting to be motivated. But that comes through the doing, right? Even if it’s messy. And that’s what I love about the book process, is it doesn’t have to be as concrete as people think. You can be messy. That’s like the job of the writer.
Richelle: Just get some things on the page and don’t expect perfection. Just let it be what it is in those early stages. And to your point about looking at people’s early work, people get better by doing it over and over again. So it’s not going to be perfect the first time out of the gate.
Stacy: I imagine somebody is listening to this and thinking, well, that’s easy for you to say. You’re not where I am. You’re not in my head. And it got me thinking about when I wrote my first book, which was now over, it was more than ten years ago that it came out and all of the fear and feelings of inadequacy. And it’s funny, because I look back on that book and I did a lot of the things that authors who are lacking full confidence do. I stuffed it with interviews. I had a bunch of boxes with extra things in it. I had all these additional elements to the book because I felt like I had to really stuff it with all of this stuff. I wasn’t really leaning on my own expertise, but I try to really stay anchored to that.
Stacy: I think because you and I are working every single day, I talk to an aspiring author, somebody who’s at the beginning. And so we have a unique, I think, mindset that somebody who isn’t doing this work, it can be so easy to get disconnected from it, because we just can never really be exactly in the place that were. But certainly, if we’re surrounding ourselves with people who are there, we can connect with that. And it is a very, to your point, very vulnerable feeling. But I also believe that vulnerability is the place that we access our best selves 100%.
Richelle: I think it’s a superpower for writers, because if you think about all the books that you know and love that are on your shelf, it’s probably not because of the box of advice that sits at the end of the chapter or anything else. It’s because of story. And that’s where readers get the trust, with the author, with the expert. If you’re not being truthful or owning your story or sharing it or being vulnerable, it’s hard to build trust. And so you need that realness in the writing, not just for yourself, but for the reader to connect with the material. It’s why story is so important. As you know, even in any type of nonfiction, whether it’s finance or. I worked with someone who was doing a book on data management for lawyers, it was like a very specific genre.
Richelle: And when she was first building her proposal, it was very dry because she’s like, well, the work is kind of dry, and it’s like, well, how do we make it not dry? How do we bring some life to this? And the second she started putting more of herself in it and her stories and examples, she had publishers bidding for that when she thought she was probably not going to have anyone chomping at the bit. So it was very exciting. And I just think that story is the key to everything. And you also bring up why thought partnership is so important, right. I think there’s this illusion, and maybe it’s movies or tv shows where the writer is in the cabin with their laptop and their chunky knit sweater and their tea, and they’re like, I’m just going to bang out this whole manuscript.
Richelle: That’s not real life. Look, me. And that is not real life. Everybody. Books come to life because there’s a lot of hands that touch it. Right. There’s very few people that go through this process without support. And so taking shame out of support is another big piece for me, is I want people to understand that it is not only okay, but it’s very much expected.
Stacy: It’s so true. And I have to say, when you were talking about that being in this secluded place and with your muse, it made me think of love, actually. The main character is typing on his typewriter, and then the wind blows to manuscript into the lake.
Richelle: That’s actually what I was thinking too.
Stacy: I think so much in our industry has shifted in just awareness around all of the pieces and parts that are required to put something great out into the world. And of course, there’s the accessibility now of self publishing and hybrid publishing. When I started out 14 years ago in this industry, it was not really looked at the way it is today. It was kind of like a last resort. But now it’s a choice for I actually have a number of clients who’ve been offered book deals, or at least have had the option like it’s been on the table. And they have chosen to self publish for some business reasons. And I would be curious to hear from you what your thoughts are on that, because I think a lot of people come into publishing and they dream of the book deal.
Stacy: And I mean, that’s kind of what our whole conversation has been about, that book deal. And it makes sense because it’s a beautiful thing when it happens. But sometimes there are other pathways that people find that are maybe even better suited for them. Hybrid publishing, self publishing. What are your thoughts and how would somebody be able to self diagnose what the right pathway might be for them?
Richelle: Yeah, I think that to your point, there’s just so much choice in the publishing process now that we didn’t have even five, six years ago, and it’s opened up a lot of doors for people. And I think this choice is highly personal. I too have a lot of clients that go through the proposal process and choose to go hybrid publishing, probably more often than self publishing in my work because of a few things. One is that maybe they’re still working on building their platform, but they know that they need this book in their business, like yesterday. Right? So maybe it’s somebody who does a lot of speaking or workshops or has an online course and wants this book to be part of it.
Richelle: They already see the end game, and so there’s an urgency for them to have the book out sooner than the traditional publishing model. Perhaps they want to retain their creative rights which you get to do in hybrid publishing. Right. In traditional publishing, you’re entering a partnership. You’re essentially licensing away your ideas that are there, your writing. And some people want to maintain ownership of their book and its content to be able to do something different with it down the road. Timeline. Of course, you could, in hybrid, get a book out in twelve to 18 months if you’re really diligent and working well with the team. In traditional publishing right now, you’re looking at two and a half years. And so time is a consideration, royalties are a consideration, right?
Richelle: So while hybrid doesn’t pay you in advance, you often get to keep between 80 and 100% of what you sell your book for. So for the people that know they’re going to be the driver of their own book sales, they like that idea of maybe earning a little bit faster than in the traditional publishing model. So it’s very personal. I would say a lot of my clients that choose the hybrid route are those that are pretty solid entrepreneurs and know how they’re going to capitalize on that right away once the book is out, or they’re great marketers and they know they’re going to drive the bus on marketing either way. So why not just have it out faster and do the thing? But some people come to the table, and that dream is still traditional publishing, right?
Richelle: They want that gravitas, they want that name on the spine of their book, and there is no shame in that. It’s a wonderful process, but it really just comes down to what you want, how you want to feel, what your goals are, what your timeline is. And so I really take it case by case when I talk with people about their route, because there’s just so many factors.
Stacy: Those are all things that I talk about with my clients as well. I think timeline is the biggest one, to your point. For my entrepreneurial clients, sometimes people are writing a book as part of a step out of corporate and into their own business. And so getting that book to market is part of their business launch plan. And so having it come out at the right time is really important. Another area that is not something that I think was in my awareness until relatively recently is that publishing as a whole is very white. And within our team last year, I have to do the math, but probably about 50% social equity projects that we’re working on.
Stacy: And so having control over organizing a diverse team, having more say in just making sure that you are honoring your reader in the whole production of the work, that’s also been a motivation for my clients.
Richelle: Yeah, absolutely. And I’m the same in my business. I think at any given time, about 40% of my client list is from a marginalized community. And coming from within publishers and working in this industry for 20 years, to me it feels like a way that I can contribute to positive change. Right. And this comes back to story too. What a benefit to be able to have more stories, more experience, more diverse experiences out in the world. And that’s exactly right. And I think too, the platform piece is a big one. I think it becomes sort of the know cloud, not Linus, who’s the peanut character that has the cloud?
Stacy: Is it Lucy?
Richelle: I can’t remember.
Stacy: No. Is that Linus? No, I don’t know.
Richelle: Linus has the blankie. I don’t remember. But everyone knows it’s like the cloud that’s following authors around going, oh my gosh, should I stop writing my book and spend 6812 months building a platform to then try and go after this dream? Or do I use my time while publishing with a hybrid publisher to sort of anchor some of those platform pieces? I think hybrid publishers are acquiring for content more than using platform as a gatekeeper. So it does just allow so many more people to come to market and share their wisdom.
Stacy: A lot of the people that I’m working with too, they’re thinking about writing a really excellent first book, proving out the data that they can sell it, using that to grow their business, grow their platform, and then without as many time constraints and maybe there’s not as much also ip tied up in it. Their next book, they’re targeting the traditional pathway, which I think is a really smart strategy. If you need something fast to market, well, I mean, we’re talking fast. It’s publishing fast, right?
Richelle: It’s turtle fast.
Stacy: A lot of people come to me and they’re like, it’s like May. And they’re like, I want to write, edit, publish and launch my book by the end of the year. And I’m like, well, not with me, but we can because to your point, like twelve months is super aggressive, 18 months is strong momentum, but you have to have a whole team organized to make that happen. And then you said two and a half years for traditional, but that’s if.
Richelle: Yeah, and this is why I tell people even in hybrid there’s a couple of benefits to still going through the proposal process for the author. It’s obviously getting really concrete on what this idea is, understanding how you’re going to market it, just having that literal blueprint for coming to market for hybrids the best ones out there are still only taking about 20% to 30% of what’s submitted to them. The proposal lets you stand out from everyone else that may just be sending an email or a one page pitch or something like that. So it’s like the more legwork you’ve done, the more that they can identify if they’re the right publisher to help you bring it to market, and you can make the best decision for yourself if that’s the right aligned partner for you. So it cuts down in time.
Richelle: So I’ve had a lot of hybrid editors tell me that because the proposals were thorough, they were able to cut off three months in their editorial timeline or their writing timeline. So there’s such a benefit to still doing that work on the front end, even if you want to go hybrid.
Stacy: I agree so much. I think the one thing that you also mentioned, I want to make this really clear for people that are new to this. There’s an element to the book proposal that’s very important, that’s not included in the outline, even my process, where I walk through, actually a lot of the things that you do, Richelle, book wise. So we do the core message. We have the overview. We define the structure. We work through the one reader. We have a fully outlined, very complete book. We don’t go into the marketing plan. And for me, when I was working on my book proposal, that was the hardest part of it.
Stacy: What’s so cool about getting that done before you even write the book is that you also have that in the back of your mind as you’re crafting the book and instead of at the end starting to think like, oh, no, I have to do all these things, or let me educate myself on marketing, period, because that’s also what happens. And to your point earlier, also on platform, I know it can be really that kind of like, oh, where do I put my energy and time? The truth is, you have to be doing them simultaneously, because you don’t just build a platform and then just let it sit while you write a book. So as you’re writing your book, you can also pull from the content, the ideas people love behind the scenes.
Stacy: My clients start creating content about their books as soon as they start working on it. They add it to their website as soon as it’s something that’s officially being worked on. So all of these things can be leveraged. And I don’t think it has to be an either or.
Richelle: I don’t think so either. And I think as you go through the writing process, the proposal process the manuscript, process, all of it. You’re going to get these aha’s, you’re going to get these ideas that come up, oh, a sentence you wrote, and you’re like, oh, I want to share that. And truthfully, as someone who used to assess platform within a publisher, the publishers are looking for you to be teaching this information already. So a lot of authors think they need to keep the idea under lock and key and not discuss it, not share it. I don’t want to ruin it. I don’t want to put the information out there. People won’t buy the book. The opposite is true.
Richelle: The publishers are really expecting to go down the social media rabbit hole or subscribe to your newsletter, go on your website or your blog and see you actually teaching this stuff already. So it only benefits you no matter which route you choose, because you get to, number one, focus group your content, right? So every idea you’re coming up with in the book proposal, I’ll tell my students, go write a post about this. Go write a substac, go play with this idea. See how people respond. You’re writing your book for those people. So go focus group these ideas. You get all this intel that’s so valuable in choosing the direction and the shape of the work. So why would we not be building community while also building our books?
Stacy: Yeah, and I love your framing around that, too, because I think a lot of people, you say platform and they hear dong dong. It’s like this scary thing, Grim Reaper comes out. I get, because I know what that’s like, to start something brand new, and there’s all this lingo that people are using, and you’re like, I don’t know what an arc is, and this, and you don’t know what people are talking about in publishing. You don’t know what they’re talking about in platform. I get that. But if you keep that heart of service and showing up and learning and make it joyful and consider it part of your creation process, it really shifts all of it.
Stacy: And then that all comes out in your writing, in your book proposal, in your conversations, in your content, and in actually writing and then future marketing for your book.
Richelle: And it might surprise you, too, like what people get as feedback. So I’ve had clients come to me and say, gosh, I was so certain this was going to be the key idea, but when I really got out in the world and talked about it’s this other thing and it’s really lighting people up. And so I’m going to lean in that direction. Can you imagine creating a whole book and then going, oh, my God, it’s not what the people wanted. It’s not what they wanted from me.
Richelle: So our books are about us, but they’re not for us. The platform brings that awareness to where you can lean to be of service.
Stacy: I love that. I think that idea of service, and this is also nonfiction specific because we’re working with people who have businesses or brands or social efforts, and this book is helping them amplify that. It’s helping them reach a broader audience and serve the world with their story, their message. Richelle, I love all the things that you do, and honestly, I could keep going and going, but in respect of people’s ears today, I want to ask you just one more question, which is, what are you most excited about right now? What are you looking forward to in business, in life?
Richelle: Oh, my gosh. It’s a big question. I had 17 books launched last year, and I have nine this year. So I am just, like, brimming with joy for all of these clients that I’ve gotten to see develop from the little seed of the idea to this big moment. And it never gets old. It never gets old. I cry every time there’s a launch or the unboxing, which we’ve talked about before between the two of us, like, when they get their books for the first time personally in my business, the book proposal blueprint program brings me so much joy to just be in connection with people and ushering them through the proposal process. So that always brings me a lot of happiness. And I’m brewing a couple in person events for 2024.
Richelle: So if anyone wants to be in a room learning about the publishing process, there will be a few things available this year.
Stacy: You mean with other human beings in a room?
Richelle: What is this other human beings? I know it’s going to be a stress. I’m going to have put real pants on, maybe. I mean, I don’t know. Maybe we’ll make it like a pajama event.
Stacy: Richelle, if you have not been introduced to the joy of athleta pants, I mean, it’s like, both. And I’m wearing some right now. I was thinking when you were mentioning your feeling about your clients, I mean, I got to experience that at our mutual connection. Farnosh Tarabi’s book launch. When she was up there talking, she was just basking in the joy of launching her book. And I saw, because you were right there next to me, and I just saw your face was just shimmering and shining with joy. I could see how joyful that experience was. That’s how I feel, too, when I work with people that this work is not. Yes, we have businesses. Yes, this is how we show up professionally. But this is really heart. It’s.
Stacy: It’s work that I see that you approach it from your heart and that you truly care about people. So if anybody’s listening to this and they’re like, I need to know more about Richelle. Where should they find you? Learn more about your program. Connect with you on Instagram.
Richelle: Thank you. Everything’s on Richellefredson.com. It’s R-I-C-H-E-L-L-E. My dad’s name is Richard, so I got the first part of his name and book proposal. Blueprint program information is there as well. I do a blog that’s there. I love to teach. So between the blog and the bounded, determined podcast, there’s tons and tons of free resources to support you. I’m Richelle Fredson on Instagram and everywhere, and I hope that you’ll all message me and let me know that you’ve listened today.
Stacy: Richelle, thank you so much for joining me. This was a ton of fun.
Richelle: Thank you so much.
Stacy: And thank you for listening or watching. However you have joined us today, I really appreciate your time and energy. I’m also going to drop in the show notes, my author platform guide. So for those of you who are listening, and you’re like, how do I even get started there? I have a free guide that can support you on that journey of building the foundation of your author platform. Thanks as always to Rita Domingues for her fine production of this podcast and to Catherine Fishman for project support. And I will be back with you before you know it.