Motherhood & Words

a proposal, a platform, and what to do if you don’t have them

The thing I love most about blogging is connecting with other readers and writers (and mothers and friends). I recently “met” Lisa Groen Braner, who wrote The Mother’s Book of Well-Being and has a lovely essay in the latest issue of Brevity. Lisa is also a writing coach who helps nonfiction authors polish their book proposals and get their work into the hands of agents and publishers.

Book proposals. Urgh. Just the words may make you cringe. (I already wrote a whole book and now I need to write a proposal? What?) Or you may be asking, what the hell is a book proposal?

Well, Lisa has a great set of interviews at The Court Street Literary Collective in which five authors discuss book proposals and author platforms. (I especially love Dinty W. Moore’s thoughts on platforms: “Platforms are great for those who have them – politicians, pundits, celebrities – but in my humble opinion, there is too much focus on platform right now. Good books are about the writing, not about who wrote them.” Amen. Amen!)

But the truth is if you’re writing memoir or narrative nonfiction, at some point you will need to write a book proposal (in which you will need to describe your platform). So check out these interviews and, if you need help writing a proposal, check out Lisa’s website, Book Dreams.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Elizabeth on August 12, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Thank you so much for this information. I have a book proposal and a sort of book that I need to pull out and do something about. Perhaps this is my nudge…

  2. unfinishedportraitofsam on August 14, 2010 at 6:39 am

    WAY helpful, Kate! there was a seminar at the last residency on just this subject–but it was one of the last, on the last day, and i had to leave. suffice it to say, the book proposal–heck, publishing in general–is still mystifying to me. thanks for this!

    ah, and for the record, one of my favorite parts of blogging is connecting with other writers, too, including you. it always makes me grin to see your comments on a post!