Winefriend by David Way

Writing about the wines of Piemonte, Italy and France

Diary of a wine writer 3: cue celebration!

In my last post, I reported that Piemonte won the race over Tuscany and Campania/ Basilicata. But can I persuade a publisher that this is a good subject … and that I am the person to write the book?

I am a fan of the Classic Wine Library. It was founded 50 years ago and famously published Julian Jeff’s Sherry book. I have made use of many of the recent volumes in my work with the WSET. I have been the main writer for a number of countries in the WSET’s completely rewritten study guide for the WSET Diploma. We have used a number of external experts for this work but it there is a recent volume in the series, I always consult it.

The Classic Wine Library was, therefore, my first port of call. I wrote a well-argued letter (in my view anyway) of a page and a half making my proposal. Here is the first argument:

First of all, Piedmont is a classic region that produces some of the world’s finest, tradable and ageable wines from the Nebbiolo grape variety. Barolo and Barbaresco are much loved and revered wines, sought after and collected by potential readers of this book. In addition to the general appreciation of these wines, the last twenty years have seen an explosion of interest in single vineyard wines from these denominations.  

This clearly jumped the first hurdle successfully as I got a near-instant response from the editor saying he would forward the proposal to his panel of experts. Such excitement … and then a day later another email arrived asking for a book proposal.

Now, this is a bit of a dilemma. Of course, I thought I had sent a proposal … and then I realised I didn’t know what a book proposal was. A few minutes googling confirmed my suspicions. There is a format for a book proposal with headings such as:

  • The Overview
  • Target Audience
  • About the Author
  • Marketing Plan
  • Competitive Titles
  • Book Outline
  • Sample Chapter(s)

Apparently, such proposals can be 15–50 pages long and clearly require a great deal of research and work.  Mmm … 

So I have spent the last week writing a five-page detailed case for my book and sent it off to the publisher.  I didn’t write a sample chapter as that could have taken months.  How long would the wait be?  

I have to say that five days later I received the following: ‘We’d like to go for this. I’ll get a draft contract to you later. When do you plan to submit the manuscript?’ 

Cue major celebration!  

Diary of a wine writer 3: cue celebration!



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