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View Full Version : Writing recent military history - how to start?



Tim_C
02-04-2008, 11:19 PM
Hi all,

I'm a fledgling writer based here in the sunny old UK. I'm interested in writing a book about the recent military history of the 18th Military Police Brigade, particularly the work they've done in Iraq in recent years (training the Iraqi police, going on patrols with them, the initial invasion in 2003, etc), but not as a comprehensive list of facts & figures, but more as a series of personal accounts from members of the Brigade, from privates through to the C.O., both male and female members of the Brigade.

Similar types of book are 'Band Of Sisters', 'Band Of Brothers', 'Weekend Warrior', and 'In The Company Of Soldiers'. In many ways, this book could be considered biography, but the biography is of a unit, not a person.

The many query I have is; where would I start? Would it be easier for me to approach the US Army and see what they have to say before I attempted to approach an agent or publisher, or should I do it the other way around?

How much of a 'platform' would I need? My army experience is confined to cadets and such when I was younger, but I have been a keen follower of the military (as a concept) for many years (since I was 10 and walked around HMS Gloucester when it was docked at Abu Dhabi port prior to Desert Storm). Would it be easier for me to approach an agent with the aim of co-writing it with one of the other, more established, military historians who do have more experience?

Lots of questions, but I'm hoping you folks can provide some sort of answers, whether it's "you need to do this..." or "there's no way you could do it!".

Thanks,

Tim

K1P1
02-06-2008, 05:47 AM
Tim, as someone who has no experience in this area, I can only offer a common sense answer. If you haven't written a book like this before, I would think that in order to sell it with a proposal, you'll need to convince the publisher or agent that you have access to contacts in order to get the personal accounts. Do you? If not, how will you get the information you need to write the book? I think you'll need to make at least the initial contacts with the military in order to insure that you can deliver once you sell the concept.

Tim_C
02-06-2008, 06:19 AM
Thanks for that Maggie. That's what I thought too, but I wasn't sure. In many ways, it does seem like a Catch-22: if I contact the military and they give me all I want, but I can't get a publisher onboard then it's dead in the water and I'll probably end up with a hacked off US Army after me! Will get in contact with the Public Affairs guys of the Brigade I want to do the bio on and see if they say anything.

Thanks,

Tim

K1P1
02-07-2008, 08:30 PM
I don't think you need to go so far as to get "everything" you want from the military before submitting a proposal. I'd get in touch with the Public affairs guy, describe your idea for the book, and see how cooperative he's prepared to be. You'll probably need to do at least one interview in order to write up a sample chapter (if you don't have anything comparable published, then they'll definitely want to see a sample of your writing).

I know you're in the UK, and I realize that my knowledge of non-fiction publishing is on the US side, so the proposal process may differ. On the other hand, there's nothing to stop you from submitting to US publishers.