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Baby Steps

Monday,  01/20/03  06:36 PM

Some key findings from my advisors (that would be you):

  • A book proposal is a good place to start.  Double clicking on that, a good way to start a book proposal is with some key things which will go into it:
    1. A crisp "elevator statement".  (Pretend you meet the world's greatest publisher in an elevator.  You must tell her about your book in the time it takes to reach the ground floor.) 
    2. A definition of your readership.  Many people have asked "who is your book for?"  Well the real answer is "it's for me", because I need to write it.  But beyond that, I do have a vision of who the intended readers are - you are, for starters.  (Yeah, you).
    3. An outline of the book, chapter by chapter.
    4. One or more essays which will evolve into chapters.

Once these things are done, the rest of the book proposal should be easy to assemble.

  • Most people who start out to write a book never finish it.  They never finish it because although they know how it starts, they don't know how it ends.  The best defense against this is to have a good outline.  I may get bored and stop writing before the book is done, but at least I won't wonder how it was supposed to end.
  • Many literary agents are vultures.  It seems it is not necessary to have a literary agent to sell a book, although it might be helpful, but rather literary agents are useful to negotiate a contract after the book has been sold.  So this comes at the end, in fact, it comes after the end.  The whole literary agent thing can be safely ignored for a while.
  • The best advice seems to be - the way to write a book is to write.  I'm going to pick several subjects from the book and write essays about them.  Then I'm going to share them with you, my intrepid readers, so you can pick them apart.

So here's the plan of action...  First, you know the title, Unnatural Selection.  I have written the elevator statement.  It is not ready for your consumption - yet - but please stay tuned, I promise I will share it with you "soon".  I have begun the outline, but I'm not ready ready to share that, either.  But here's an outline of the outline:

    1. Intro: There is this phenomenon.  This phenomenon is causing problems.  The book is about the phenomenon, the problems, and possible solutions.
    2. Part I: What is the phenomenon.
    3. Part II: What are the problems it causes.
    4. Part III: Why the phenomenon is occuring.
    5. Part IV: Possible solutions.  

The first essay is one I'd written some time ago, called Population Math.  It explains the growth of populations in terms of birth rates, average lifetime, and average generation time.  This will probably be an appendix - maybe not the best place to start! - but it provides important background for the rest of the book.  I'll clean this up and post it sometime this week.

The second essay is one I've written twice already, but I haven't been happy with either version.  It will be called Social Selection, and deals with the issue of who, in present day human society, ends up having children, and why.  This will be part of Part III (why the phenomenon is occuring), and really sets the stage for the book itself.

Thank you thank you thank you to all those who have emailed with advice, especially the authors among you.  Please keep it coming.

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