Which comes first, writing the proposal or writing the book?
I cannot tell you how many people have asked me this question. And I'll answer with the questions I ask my clients... what's more important to you, that you feel important and validated publishing your book or that you are a published author and that your message is out in the world making an impact? Those things are subtly different, and while there are many paths to achieving both, what it comes down to is what are you willing to wait on... Is it more important that you try over and over to write the perfect proposal that may or may not be accepted or that you finally write the damn book?
If your dream is to pick up a fancy contract with a publishing firm then let's be perfectly clear here... what's required of you is either a really great connection to open doors or a robust platform with tons of raving fans and a clear marketing and promotion plan that will make the publisher lots of money. You need to create a case for your positioning and non-stop unwavering belief that you will sell the hell out of this book.
And then you'll also have to come up with a compelling book concept.
You'll probably need to write the proposal many, many times. You'll need to send it out to multiple agents and publishers after researching who they are and what they are looking for and how they accept proposals, if at all, and then reformat and edit the proposal accordingly.
Listen - if this is your route, then consider that what you're doing is asking to be hired and proving that you're the right candidate for the job in the middle of thousands of other applicants.
If that's what you really want - go for it. Write the proposal first.
I mean there are those who I reply to who still insist that they would feel unaccomplished self-publishing and that's fine. They'd rather wait for the publishing deal.
Personally, I think that's a great way to AVOID writing your book.
Not to be a negative nelly here, because some do really get those rare publishing deals and that's awesome! The point is to not WAIT, because we live in an age where we simply don't have to. There was a time when getting a publisher was the ONLY way to release a book. That's just simply not true anymore.
The time and energy spent writing proposals is precious. Add it all up and the first draft of your book could be done. Why would I waste my time and energy begging for a job, when I could be in the world, book in hand?
Maybe for a second book after you've proven that you have what it takes to properly promote your writing. Or maybe you can start sending out proposals once you've written most of the book.
But I guarantee that as a creative person, that I will suck the joy right out of the project for myself getting mired up in the process of finding an agent or publisher to even consider my book...
Why do I write?
Because I love it. Because I can. Because I have a message I want to share.
Why do I self publish?
Because I make a terrible employee. Because I can. Because I have a message I want to share.
So prioritize what you're really going for here. Recognition and money can happen on either path. A published book may not...