A New Kind of Paranormal Critter: The Book Proposal

I can create wizards, merpeople, elven synods, vampire scathes, even some lusty satyrs. I like them. They’re fun. I can play and send imagination soaring.

But the latest and oddest new species has been kicking my butt: the Dreaded Book Proposal, or DBP.

One thing I have learned about me and the DBP: I’d rather read a stack of computer manuals.

First off,  what is a proposal, and how does it differ from a synopsis? And if I’m proposing a book for a new urban fantasy, how do I explain all that complex worldbuilding in a way that gives the editor who reads it enough information to make an informed decision on its publishability but not so much information that his or her eyes cross?

So I went off searching the Internet for ideas and didn”t find any, basically. Lots out there about queries and blurbs. I love queries and blurbs. Rather to be short and provocative than long-winded and boring.

Next, I pump my (EXTREMELY patient) agent for information. Proposal = blurb + synopsis + three chapters.  Well, okay, now we’re getting somewhere.

Except I’m still hung up on that worldbuilding thing.

JR Ward to the rescue. I recently began reading her BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD: AN INSIDER’S GUIDE, which is a riotous read, by the way. She tries to interview the Brothers and they eat her lunch, basically. But, lo and behold, she included her original BDB proposal. I love the structure of it:
–Main Characters
–Rules of the World

This structure makes a lot of sense to me and makes me feel I can write a synopsis that makes sense because those niggly worldbuilding details and short character intros are already out of the way. So that’s what I’m doing. If it gets shot down, I’ll let you know!

Anyone out there done a proposal before? Special techniques? Want to do mine for me? I’ll bribe you with Chilton County, Alabama, peaches–the best in the world!

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

5 thoughts on “A New Kind of Paranormal Critter: The Book Proposal

  1. Proposals are tough. I especially get hung up on the comps.


    I’ve only done a couple proposals…but thank goodness I have an agent now, she takes care of them. And I know she does TONS better than I ever could!

  2. I would love for you to look at my query, Suzanne! The more help, the better.

    And if there are any agents that would do their clients proposals, they would be worth their weight in gold!