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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Build a Better Bid: A Template for Freelancers

Readers of this blog know that I'm a big fan of sharing templates, or examples that readers can adapt for their own purposes. Last post, I shared four tips on better bidding, and promised an example of a written bid for readers. Here it is, with my comments in blue

Dear Alice: 

First, thanks so much for getting in touch with me earlier this week. I'm really excited about your book concept and the possibility of us working together. I think you have a lot of good ideas, and also feel that I can bring a lot to both the proposal and the book itself. (Oh, and thanks for sending the research you sent last night—I read through it and there's a lot of good stuff there as well.) [It may seem obvious, but no one minds being complimented, at least when your compliments are genuine. Use the first paragraph to set the stage for a congenial conversation.] 

The seeds for the book are there. There's still much to do, however. Working together, we need to come up with a title and subtitle; an overview; the "hook" (i.e., what makes this book different from everything else out there); competitive analysis (a rundown on the book's likely biggest competitors and how it's different than/better than the other titles, which relates to the hook); the audience (is it all career-oriented busy people, or more aimed at women or men, for example); marketing/promotion (again, you've got a platform already but we really want to showcase this in the proposal); about the author(s) (depending on whether you want to include me as coauthor in the proposal—I think that's a selling point but that's your call); the overall structure (i.e., total number of chapters, pages, appendices, and the like); the chapter summaries; and one well-written sample chapter of approximately 15 to 20 pages. The total proposal will come in at 30-40 pages. [Wow, I have a lot to work to do, don't I? That's what I want the client to realize. I'm not only giving her a description of the work that I expect to do, I'm showing her that it will take some time to carry it out.] 

Sound like a lot? It is. But the end product—the finished proposal—will be worth it. I'm assuming that you're willing to do some of the research and work with me on the sample chapter and overview in particular; that will save me some time. As I told you yesterday, I typically charge $5000 to $10,000 for a typical proposal, but considering the subject matter and the level of your involvement, my fee will be $4,500. This includes all of the elements of the proposal including one sample chapter, to be delivered within four to six weeks (at a date we agree on.) I'd like $2,000 on going forward/signing a collaboration agreement (see below); $1,000 upon delivery of the draft proposal (without the sample chapter): and $1,500 upon delivery of the finished proposal with the sample chapter. [I've given my bid, finally, with an explanation of how I reached the figure I'm asked for. I've also made it clear that I need a retainer to get started.]

With the polished, finished proposal in hand, you'll be ready to pitch agents and editors—and you'll have the framework for the book completed which makes the actual writing of it easier. I know you want to use the book to take the next step in your career, but I also think you have a saleable idea, a strong platform, and the dedication to see the project through—all of which is necessary to succeed as a book author! [Here I set out the benefits to my client of having the book proposal completed. In retrospect, I would have swapped this paragraph with the one above, providing the features--the description of the elements of the proposal--and then the benefits before giving my bid. I think that may have been more effective.] 

Another thing to consider is when you want to sign a formal collaboration agreement that sets out our expectations for working together. We can sign one for the proposal itself, or for a potential book deal, or work something out that you're comfortable with. I can send you a sample one that you can tweak/modify how you see fit. [Again, I'm underscoring the importance of a signed contract.]

What else? I think we've got a good rapport, and I'm reliable, professional, and easy to work with. If I tell you I'm going to do something, you can count on me to get it done. I love collaborating with smart people to get their ideas in print, and helping them become book authors. [Just reminding the client of how awesome I am. :)] 

Please let me know if you have any questions about my bid or the project—I hope we’ll have the chance to work together! If this is a go, I can make your proposal my first priority, and I think you (and hopefully a wonderful agent and editor as well) will be delighted with the finished product. Let me know if you're ready to take the next step. [I like this close; it's direct but not pushy.]

All good things,


**Readers, what do you think of the proposal? Do you like the tone and format? It worked--my client hired me to write the proposal at the fee I requested. While our agent wasn't able to sell the actual book, my client was happy with my work and hired me several years later on another project. 

**Want to see more bids that worked? Check out Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs, and More, Second Edition; the print version will be in print from Improvise Press by September, 2014. 


  1. I love it! Thanks for generously sharing this one, Kelly.

    1. My pleasure. Looking forward to seeing you in NYC! :)