When we talk promotion having something to set us out from the crowd is a good thing. Authors often do promotional events and book signings in costume or use various promotional items to attract attention and draw readers to them. I like western wear, but when doing promotional events or when going to a conference I dress a little more flashy than usual for the same reason, so people will remember me and to draw people to me at a signing.

It’s a tried and true principle, just watch ads on television. When we want people to remember us it is a good thing to stand out. But is it always a good thing?

Not when submitting a proposal. I get proposals on colored paper or with huge type on the cover, maybe bound or with fancy covers. Anything to attract attention. This is NOT where we want to attract attention.

On Chip MacGreagor’s blog he was talking about people making exorbitant claims about their book. They were trying to stand out verbally. Doing things in a book proposal to stand out raises flags from the very beginning. Such things shout from the rooftop, “I am a newbie!”

We can’t hide the fact that we are a new or unpublished writer if that is the case, but the goal is not to advertise it. The goal is to have the person evaluating the proposal run across it after they are favorably impressed and be surprised with the professionalism of the presentation for a new writer.

So what’s the goal? The goal is not to stand out but to have our proposal look exactly like the carefully polished proposal of someone who has been doing it for years. The goal is to have the writing as polished and ready as we can make it, to look at the submission guidelines to make sure we are pitching the right person then to send them exactly what they want precisely how they wish to receive it. I have people argue with me about what I ask to see. Would you think that is more or less likely to make me look at something other than what I’ve asked to see?

Our Agency submission guidelines are at http://www.hartlineliterary.com/ and to help make sure the manuscript itself is ready to go I’ve even posted a checklist on “is it ready to submit?” on my own website at http://www.terryburns.net/Submit.htm and in the bookstore at that website I even offer a little ebook on “Pitch and Promote like a Pro” to walk someone through the process step by step. So, with us doing all we can to help make a very professional proposal and pitch, why do so many still feel like the best thing to do is stand out from the crowd? To that newbie trying to make the cut I say, “stand out in your promotion, make your writing stand out with the quality, but your proposal is not the place to stand out.”

Having done my duty on my blog post, let me take a moment to say my mind and heart go out to the families of those who lost someone on 9/11. I know hitting this date brings it back fresh again. It brings it back to many of us and rightly so, I hope we never forget.