Outline Your Book
To prove that you have a strong, well-developed concept, many grant applications require you to outline your book. This can also be called a synopsis. A synopsis, or outline, highlights all the major plot points of the book's storyline. It can also call out instances of character development. An outline demonstrates the story and character arcs, gives away spoilers and tells the grant reviewer how your story wraps up.
You could have a great plot for a book, but if your writing can't accomplish your outline goals, the book won't be successful. Many grant applications require you to submit at least the first chapter to demonstrate your writing ability for the grant application. Any writing you submit needs to be polished and in accordance with your outline. Having critique partners or editors review the writing sample you are submitting helps to put your best pages forward.
Research Grants Available to You
Grants can vary by where you live and what categories you fall into. Funds For Writers website has lists of grants available to writers. GrantSpace.com suggests searching The National Assembly of State Arts Agency (NASAA) directories, your town's arts council and your state's art commission to find writing grants available to you. According to the NASAA site, over five million dollars was awarded in 2013 in literature grants alone. The grants also vary in what they offer. Per the Funds For Writers website, some can cover attending a writers conference while others can pay for you to write for months. Identify what you need to make your book a reality and choose the grant that best suits that need.
Fiction vs. Non-Fiction
Non-fiction grants are more plentiful than fiction grants, however, to receive them you must prove that your book idea has a social impact. For example, the Funds For Writers website specifies that many writers seeking a grant must show the impact the project has on world humanities. The federal Fulbright fellowship program is better known for being awarded to those in fields such as the hard sciences, public health, anthropology and economics, according to Publishing Perspectives. However, the site also notes that creative writers are eligible as well. Over 80 recipients of Fulbright fellowships have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
Complete and Send Applications
Each grant will have its own set of forms and applications to complete, along with the writing samples and outlines. Read all grant instructions carefully to make sure you meet the qualifications to apply. This will keep you from wasting time on grants you're not eligible for. Follow all the necessary steps and supply all the required information. Grant applications are a lengthy process and you don't want to be disqualified based on missing information.