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sjohnson
06-22-2013, 11:45 PM
I'm an arts journalist, looking at the viability of a book of interviews that focus on a specific aspect of performing.

I intend it to be split up as one chapter per interviewee. Which seemed well and good until I realized how thin the proposal would be.

The plan is to complete a few of these interviews before I begin querying, using well-known performers who I already have relationships with and who won't mind if this never sees the light of day. My "wish list" is full of names of similar notoriety, but I don't intend to reach out to those until I'm prepared to say I'm writing a book. I'll get some, but not all.

In a case like this, do I skip the chapter outline/synopsis if I don't know who who all I'll be talking to? I can't be stuck writing the whole thing first... can I? Are there other considerations when pitching a format like this?

cornflake
06-23-2013, 12:35 AM
I'm an arts journalist, looking at the viability of a book of interviews that focus on a specific aspect of performing.

I intend it to be split up as one chapter per interviewee. Which seemed well and good until I realized how thin the proposal would be.

The plan is to complete a few of these interviews before I begin querying, using well-known performers who I already have relationships with and who won't mind if this never sees the light of day. My "wish list" is full of names of similar notoriety, but I don't intend to reach out to those until I'm prepared to say I'm writing a book. I'll get some, but not all.

In a case like this, do I skip the chapter outline/synopsis if I don't know who who all I'll be talking to? I can't be stuck writing the whole thing first... can I? Are there other considerations when pitching a format like this?

Your proposal still has to show what the book would be about - and the book still has to be about something. Your proposal wouldn't just be 'going to interview a bunch of ballerinas and see what they say, the end.'

Lots of non-fic is interview-based; shouldn't change the proposal particularly.

sjohnson
06-23-2013, 02:34 AM
I think you misunderstood my question, cornflake. I'm not seeking permission to be vague and unfocused. I purposely said "specific aspect" to prevent that assumption. In fact, my biggest concern is being too specific to be marketable.

I'm asking what the meat of a proposal like this is supposed to be, if it's impossible for there to be a chapter outline and chapter summaries at this point. Yes, lots of NF books are interview-based, but not separated out as standalones as I'm planning.

I can break down the conversation points that I expect to be covered, but only to a point. And those still aren't chapter summaries.

cornflake
06-23-2013, 02:50 AM
I think you misunderstood my question, cornflake. I'm not seeking permission to be vague and unfocused. I purposely said "specific aspect" to prevent that assumption. In fact, my biggest concern is being too specific to be marketable.

I'm asking what the meat of a proposal like this is supposed to be, if it's impossible for there to be a chapter outline and chapter summaries at this point. Yes, lots of NF books are interview-based, but not separated out as standalones as I'm planning.

I can break down the conversation points that I expect to be covered, but only to a point. And those still aren't chapter summaries.

I'm saying it can't, or shouldn't, be impossible to be chapter outlines and summaries.

If it is, then the book doesn't have a point and is too vague, is what I'm trying to get across. How can it be too specific? Do you mean you'd just ask one question and print the unedited response as a chapter for each person. That seems more a magazine article than a book and even that would require context, connection, etc.

If it's interview-based, it'd still be about the point of the interviews, the connections you're making, what you're saying about these things, etc., etc., what each chapter is meant to do, how they'd be arranged and why, to show what, yada yada.

Old Hack
06-23-2013, 12:17 PM
I'd write the proposal with a list of proposed chapters which includes a link pointing out that things will almost certainly change; you could include a list of people you'd like to interview, along with a list of subjects and areas you'd like to cover. So if it were a book on sewing, for example, you could say you'd like to include chapters in which you interview a prominent quilter, such as Mrs McQuilty, an established embroiderer like Mr Stitchy, and a notorious artist who works with fibres, including perhaps Ms Pins.

Does that help?

sjohnson
06-23-2013, 07:02 PM
I'd write the proposal with a list of proposed chapters which includes a link pointing out that things will almost certainly change; you could include a list of people you'd like to interview, along with a list of subjects and areas you'd like to cover. So if it were a book on sewing, for example, you could say you'd like to include chapters in which you interview a prominent quilter, such as Mrs McQuilty, an established embroiderer like Mr Stitchy, and a notorious artist who works with fibres, including perhaps Ms Pins.

Does that help?

I see what you're saying, Old Hack. Outlining hypothetical interview subjects and the specific reason behind each choice is probably my best move, as long as I'm clear that I don't necessarily have those individuals locked down. Thank you.

Cornflake, your obsession with proving that my subject - which you know nothing about - is "too vague" is equal parts unhelpful and hilarious.

Old Hack
06-23-2013, 10:40 PM
Cornflake, your obsession with proving that my subject - which you know nothing about - is "too vague" is equal parts unhelpful and hilarious.

sjohnson. Go and read the Newbie Guide right now, and remind yourself of AW's One Rule.

Cornflake's comments were just as helpful and pertinent as mine, and don't deserve your rude response.