A Challenging Proposal
Anyway, I decided to send in a proposal for a workshop for an SCBWI conference. And I thought I’d share with you the steps I took, in the event that you, too, are up for a writing challenge. (Which is a polite way of saying that perhaps you, too, would rather just have an umbrella drink but maybe it’s time to shake the sand out of your writing brain and start a new project.)
Step 1: Coming Up With An Idea
Okay, yes, coming up with an idea does seem to go without saying. But I mention it because whether you get accepted for the proposal starts with a great idea.
A great idea does not have to be an idea that no one’s ever thought of before (though if you’ve got one of those, good for you!). A great idea can be a tried and true topic, but it helps to come up with a new and interesting spin on it. Look for the unique angle so you’re offering something fresh, something original on your writing topic. If it’s a conference you’ve attended regularly, take a look at the schedules from previous years. What’s been done to death? What’s missing?
And P.S., it helps if it’s a topic you’re passionate about and that you are uniquely qualified to share. So on to the next step…
Step 2: Selling Yourself
A proposal for a workshop is much like a pitch. You have an idea and you must sell it. Not to an editor, but to a committee looking for qualified speakers. So you must pitch yourself, too. What is special about you? What is it about your qualifications that will make that committee all nod their heads in approval?
This is not the time to be demurring. It’s possible that someone on the committee will know you and love you. But someone else on the committee might have his or her champion, too. So put your best writing foot forward, giving special attention to the qualifications that will help you sell your pitch. And then you are ready for the final step.
Step 3: Writing a Perfect Proposal
Your proposal should give details about what you plan to share and how your workshop will help a writer grow. Be specific enough to show that you know your topic well, and that you can demonstrate it equally well. But what will really put you in the program is the title of your workshop.
Yeah, I’m not joking. A boring title might mean a boring workshop, and no one wants to sit through boring. Would you rather go to “A Short and Tweet Look at Social Media” or “All About Social Media”?
See? So load up your personality into your presentation, beginning with the title. And don’t be surprised if you get an email inviting you to present at the conference.
Which is another way of saying, “Congratulations!” Or maybe, “Enough with the umbrella drinks—get back to work.”
~Cathy C. Hall