What started it all . . .
In the summer of 2009, I pulled the idea of a Mount Hood biography out of my head and decided to at least try to make it happen. I read books about book proposals, I read sample proposals, I researched and thought about it and, finally, wrote my own proposal. And then I submitted it, first as an idea to agents — none were interested — and then as a full proposal to six or eight different publishers. Four showed some interest, two offered to publish it, and one, Sasquatch Books, actually did.
With the release of On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon’s Perilous Peak just a month away, I thought I’d take a quick look back at the initial query that got this big ball rolling. What follows is the cover letter I sent with my proposal. I’m glad it worked out the way it did. (I’m also glad that no one liked my original title for the book and later changed it . . .)
Dear Sasquatch Books,
Wild adventure. Unparalleled natural beauty. Icy disregard. Oregon’s Mt. Hood has got it all. And yet Hood may be one of the only iconic mountains in the world that’s never really had its story told.
Mountain Air: The Unforgiving Beauty of Oregon’s Mt. Hood, will be the first contemporary, first-person, narrative biography of Mt. Hood, full of adventures and tragedies, history and geology, people and places, trivia and lore, all woven together with the personal experiences of an author and outdoor aficionado who has come to know and relish Oregon’s signature peak over the past 12 years.
Mountain Air will not only introduce and familiarize readers with the beauty and harshness that is Mt. Hood, but it will give them an intimate perspective of the mountain — and inspire them to know it more. It will be the defining book for the mountain in the 21st century, not only for Pacific Northwesterners, but for inveterate outdoor lovers, travelers, climbers, skiers, naturalists, and anyone else similarly smitten with beautiful mountains anywhere.
For a quick rundown of Mountain Air’s prospective audience in the ever-popular outdoor and adventure genre, consider that every year, 4.5 million people visit Mt. Hood’s namesake national forest and 10,000 climb to its summit. Annually, more than 21 million people make overnight visits to Oregon, and outdoor groups across the region count thousands of bibliophiles among their ranks. Portland’s Mazamas, for example, founded atop Mt. Hood in 1894, boasts more than 3,000 members.
An Oregonian, outdoorsman, and a professional writer for more than 12 years, I have logged countless hours on Mt. Hood, climbing, backpacking, skiing, paddling, and otherwise getting to know it. My writing experience spans the spectrum from the outdoors to marketing and business, and I have been published in more than 25 publications, including Backpacker, The Oregonian, Oregon Outside, The Rowing News, and Oregon Coast. I also co-authored the climbing guide Ozone.
To acquaint you fully with Mountain Air, I’ve included a complete proposal, including an outline, more about the potential market, sample chapters, an analysis of the competition, and everything else you’ll want to know about what will make Mountain Air a soaring success. (Please note: multiple publishers are considering this proposal.)
Thank you very much for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.