Author Kim Zachman on How to Craft Proposals- PLUS GIVEAWAY!

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Hello world!!

Welcome to my book blog, Blissfully Bookish. For this Q & A, please welcome yet another talented nonfiction writer: Kim Zachman. Here she is, discussing her book There’s No Ham in Hamburger, a middle grade nonfiction book illustrated by Peter Donnelly and published by Running Press Kids. I was interested to hear what she said about crafting compelling nonfiction proposals, so read below for more information.

BUT first- YAY! Kim is generously giving away a free copy of her book (US only). All you have to do is comment on this blog post. Contest ends April 30, 2021.

Please describe the journey to publication for There’s No Ham in Hamburger.
After twelve years of writing for magazines and newspapers, I finally gave in to my secret desire to be a children’s author. In 2010, I joined SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and started learning everything I could about kids’ lit. The idea for this book came when I wondered why there wasn’t any ham in hamburgers. What I thought would be a quick internet search, turned into a year-long binge on food history and a proposal for a middle grade nonfiction book. I started querying agents and collected a sizable batch of rejections until John Rudolph of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret offered me representation. He gave me suggestions to revise the proposal, which I did, and then he sent it out on submission. A few months later, we got an offer from Running Press Kids. From concept to publication was a total of eight years.

Where did you draw the book’s inspiration?
As I researched the origin stories of our favorite foods, it became clear that there was much more to tell than just who invented what and when. Societal changes had a big influence, specifically immigration, but science, technology, and religion also impacted our favorite foods. For example, the hydrogenation of peanut butter made an occasional treat into a pantry staple.

What is your writing process, and does it vary depending on the project?
I used to work for Scholastic Book Fairs and didn’t get much writing done during the busy months when the schools were in session. So, I crammed most of my writing work into the summer break. Since the Pandemic has put me on permanent break, I try to be at my computer each afternoon for three to four hours. More than that, if I’m on a deadline. I don’t know how to quantify my research time because I’m almost always reading something that pertains to my current project or possible future project.

Please paste a short and compelling excerpt from your book.
“We can’t talk about the history of ice cream without talking about the history of ice. About four thousand years ago, people discovered that ice helped keep foods from spoiling. However, getting ice was a problem. People knew how to build a fire and boil water, but only Mother Nature could freeze it.”

Can you give us some strategies on how to write a compelling MG nonfiction proposal?
I think the most important thing is that the proposal starts with a hook that is written with the same voice and style that you plan on using for the book. The second most important thing is to show the publisher why your book will be successful for them. Who is the target audience? How will it stand out? A strong market analysis with comparative titles is a must.

Where do you see your career headed? Do you have other WIPs or projects in the pipeline you would like to mention?
I plan on continuing with more nonfiction titles that are based on the social sciences. I’m researching a couple of topics right now, but I hesitate to mention them until after my agent has approved. I would also like to publish MG fiction. I have two first drafts completed, but they are NOT ready for anyone to read.

Please share your favorite books that have inspired you and served as mentor texts.
When I read How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg and Poop Happened: A History of the World From the Bottom Up by Sarah Albee, I knew that I wanted a similar format and humorous tone for my book. They were both so much fun to read and packed with great information.

What is the best (one) piece of advice you would give to other writers?
There’s no RIGHT way to write. There are, however, lots of wrong ways. Learn to avoid the wrong ways.”

And a bonus question just for kicks! If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
A river otter. I love how playful and curious they are. But, I don’t like cold water, so maybe that’s not the best choice. I can be reptilian about my need for heat.

Kim Zachman is an author and freelance writer with more than a decade of experience contributing to regional and national publications. There’s No Ham in Hamburgers: Facts and Folklore About Our Favorite Foods is her debut children’s book.

Author webpage:
Both have links to purchase.

33 thoughts on “Author Kim Zachman on How to Craft Proposals- PLUS GIVEAWAY!

    RebeccaTheWriter said:
    April 21, 2021 at 11:28 am

    This sounds fantastic! Congrats!
    Rebecca Gardyn Levington


    […] Author Kim Zachman on How to Craft Proposals- PLUS GIVEAWAY! […]


    yangmommy said:
    April 17, 2021 at 8:13 am

    Oooh, this book is right up my alley, as a self-professed foodie! I’m glad you didn’t give up & kept going after your dream!

    Liked by 1 person

    doreenrobinson said:
    April 15, 2021 at 9:47 pm

    What a great story concept – I’m sure readers will love this! And eight years from concept to publication is inspiring, Kim! Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      April 15, 2021 at 10:09 pm

      Yes it gives us hope!


      Kim Zachman said:
      April 16, 2021 at 1:48 pm

      Glad you love the concept. There was a lot of waiting during those eight years. Patience is a necessity for writers.

      Liked by 1 person

    Lauri Meyers said:
    April 15, 2021 at 7:21 pm

    I love learning about the why behind everyday things . Sounds like a great book. I’m curious how many words it runs. I’ll have to get a copy to find out!

    Liked by 1 person

    chardixon47 said:
    April 15, 2021 at 3:25 pm

    Congratulations Kim! Thank you for your insight and tips on making those book proposals. I now have a whole different perspective about eating my next burger without the ham 🙂 I look forward to reading your book!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      April 15, 2021 at 4:59 pm

      Crafting a strong book proposal is a lot of work, but it’s so important to take the time!


      Kim Zachman said:
      April 16, 2021 at 1:50 pm

      I hope my tip helps. My agent taught me that and it worked!

      Liked by 1 person

    Kim Zachman said:
    April 15, 2021 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks! It was super fun to research!

    Liked by 1 person

    Jilanne Hoffmann said:
    April 15, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    Sounds like this book was based on a couple of stellar mentor texts. I admire an author’s ability to synthesize and aggregate information in an entertaining way for the MG crowd. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      April 15, 2021 at 4:47 pm

      I agree!!

      Liked by 1 person

      Kim Zachman said:
      April 16, 2021 at 1:52 pm

      Thanks! It was very hard to cut down all the research into only 25,000 words. There was a lot that didn’t make it into the book. My editor, Allison Cohen, was so helpful when it became hard to choose what to keep and what had to go. My first criteria was always “Will it be interesting to kids?”

      Liked by 2 people

    Angie said:
    April 15, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    What a fun book! I would love to know why a hamburger does not have ham. That sounds gross (a hamburger with ham, but I love hamburgers with bacon…). Congratulations and thanks for sharing with us, Kim!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      April 15, 2021 at 12:32 pm

      I bet kids would want to know, too!

      Liked by 1 person

      Kim Zachman said:
      April 16, 2021 at 1:54 pm

      I wish I could tell you here why a hamburger doesn’t have ham in it, but that would spoil the fun for everyone. Sorry. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

    Sarah Meade said:
    April 15, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    Congratulations, Kim! What a fun topic. I look forward to reading this.

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      April 15, 2021 at 12:14 pm

      Right? The topic has great kid-appeal


      Kim Zachman said:
      April 16, 2021 at 1:55 pm

      Thanks, Sarah! I hope you enjoy it.

      Liked by 1 person

    seschipper said:
    April 14, 2021 at 9:18 pm

    Oh Kim, What a great idea for a book! Looking forward to reading this book. I will place it on my list!! Thanks so much for sharing this Lydia!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      April 15, 2021 at 11:10 am

      It will be a great addition to your reading list 🙂


      Kim Zachman said:
      April 17, 2021 at 1:22 pm

      It was a lot of fun to research. I think you’ll enjoy reading it too.


    Jany Campana said:
    April 14, 2021 at 1:30 pm

    Kim–I love the concept of There’s No Ham In Hamburgers!

    Liked by 1 person

      Lydia Lukidis responded:
      April 14, 2021 at 3:32 pm

      It’s got a great hook!


      Kim Zachman said:
      April 17, 2021 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks, Jany!


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