Start Here: How to Write a Book Proposal

Book Proposal Business Plan

This post is a companion to Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published. My expertise on this topic comes from more than a decade of acquisitions experience at a traditional publisher, where I reviewed thousands of proposals. Originally written in 2012, this post is occasionally updated and revised.

What exactly is a book proposal?

Book proposals are used to sell nonfiction books.

A book proposal argues why your book (idea) is a salable, marketable product. It acts as a business case or business plan for your book that persuades a publisher to make an investment in you and your project. Instead of writing the entire book, then trying to interest an editor or agent (which is how it works with novels), you write the proposal first. If a publisher is convinced by your argument, it will then contract you and pay you to write the book.

If properly developed and researched, a proposal can take weeks, even months, to write. While proposal length varies tremendously, most are somewhere around 10–25 pages double-spaced, not including sample chapters. It’s not out of the question for a proposal to reach 50 pages or more for complex projects once sample materials are included.

New writers might find it easier to simply write the book first, then prepare a proposal—which isn’t such a bad idea, since many editors and agents want assurance that an unknown writer can produce an entire book before they commit. But having the manuscript complete does not get you off the hook when it comes to writing the proposal.

Side note: You may occasionally hear someone refer to novel proposals, which includes a query or cover letter, a synopsis and/or outline, and a partial or complete manuscript—along with any other information the editor or agent requests. This bears little to no relation to a typical nonfiction book proposal.

Your business case usually matters more than the writing itself

People don’t like it when I say this, but for most nonfiction books, the artfulness of the writing doesn’t matter nearly as much as the marketability of the book or the author. (You can see this played out in the rejections received by award-winner Rebecca Skloot.)

If your book’s purpose is to impart useful information or benefit readers’ lives, then you’re selling it based on the marketability of your expertise, your platform, and your concept. The book proposal persuades agents/editors that readers are willing to pay $20 or more for the benefit that your book provides. While everyone expects the writing to be solid, they’re not expecting a literary masterpiece. To learn how to lose weight, readers don’t need a poet; they need a clear communicator who can deliver her ideas and methods in a way that will help readers achieve their goals.

Especially in fields such as health, self-help, or parenting, your credibility and platform as a professional in the field may be most critical; your background must convey authority and instill confidence in the reader. (Would you, as a reader, trust a health book by an author with no medical experience or degrees? Would you be OK reading a serious guide on how to invest in the stock market by someone who is living in a van down by the river?)

Some types of nonfiction can be credibly pitched by anyone with proven journalistic or storytelling skills. (Think of a narrative nonfiction book, such as Seabiscuit.) If your book must succeed based on its ability to artfully weave a story, then your strength as a writer becomes more and more important. It’s still necessary to prove there’s a market for that story, but you won’t be successful in your pitch if you can’t deliver on the writing.

If your book doesn’t require a narrative structure, then your skills as a writer mainly have to be up to the task of producing and revising a book manuscript with an editor’s or agent’s guidance. (In some cases, a ghostwriter may come into play, but this typically requires deep pockets on the part of the author.)

The gray area of memoir

Memoirists will find that submission guidelines vary tremendously when it comes to pitching their work to agents and publishers. Some agents don’t require a book proposal for memoir, while others want only the book proposal and the first few chapters. Some agents may even ask for both the proposal and the complete manuscript if you’re an unpublished author.

While this is a broad generalization, I find that professional, published writers can typically sell a memoir based on the proposal alone, if they clearly have writing chops or publication credits to back up the proposal. New, emerging writers who have no publishing track record will likely be asked to submit a complete manuscript to prove they can write, sometimes in addition to the book proposal itself.

Your memoir is not salable unless you’re confident of several things.

  1. Your writing must be outstanding. If your memoir is your very first book or very first writing attempt, then it may not be good enough to pass muster with an editor or agent.
  2. You must have a compelling and unusual story to tell. If you’re writing about situations that affect thousands (or millions) of people, that’s not necessarily in your favor. Alzheimer’s memoirs or cancer memoirs, for example, are common, and will put you on the road to rejection unless you’re able to prove how yours is unique or outstanding in the field.
  3. You have the start of a platform. If you have a way to reach readers, without a publisher’s help, then you’re more likely to get a book deal.

Finding a literary agent (and do you need one?)

If you are writing a book that has significant commercial value, or you want to publish with a New York house, then you’ll need to submit your work to literary agents. Projects that don’t necessarily require agents include scholarly works for university presses, books likely to be published by regional or independent presses, and other niche titles with little commercial value.

3 key questions every book proposal must answer

While these questions are not explicitly addressed in the proposal (i.e., with specific sections), they will be running through the mind of every publishing professional who considers your project. As a whole, your proposal must effectively answer them.

  • So what? What’s the reason for your book’s existence? What’s the unique selling proposition that sets it apart from others in the market?
  • Who cares? This is your target readership. A unique book is not enough—you must show evidence of need in the marketplace for your work.
  • Who are you? You must have sufficient authority or credentials to write the book, as well as an appropriate marketing platform for the subject matter or target audience.

Editors care about one thing only: A viable idea with a clear market, paired with a writer who has credibility and marketing savvy. Knowing your audience or market—and having direct, tangible reach to them (online or off)—gives you a much better chance of success. Pitch only the book you know has a firm spot in the marketplace. Do not pitch a book expecting that the publisher will bring the audience to you. It’s the other way around. You bring your audience and platform to the publisher.

The most common book proposal sections

The following sections appear in almost every book proposal.

Competitive title analysis

This section analyzes competing book titles and why yours is different or better. Whatever you do, don’t claim there are NO competitors to your book. If there are truly no competitors, then your book might be so weird and specialized that it won’t sell. The analysis typically includes 5-10 titles. You might be okay discussing just a few titles if your book is on a specialized topic or for a very narrow audience.

For each entry in your competitive title analysis, begin by listing the title, subtitle, author, publisher, year of publication, page count, price, format, and the ISBN. If it has a specific edition number, include that, too. You don’t need to list things such as Amazon ranking, star rating, or reviews. Also don’t worry about including the sales numbers of the competing titles. There’s no way for an average author to find out that information, and the agent or editor can look it up if required.

Then comes the most important part: for each competitor, you briefly summarize the book’s approach in relation to your own (about 100-200 words per title). You should be able to clearly differentiate your title from the competition, and show why there’s a need for your book. 

Resist trashing the competition; it will come back to bite you. And don’t skimp on your title research—editors can tell when you haven’t done your homework, plus fully understanding the competition should help you write a better proposal. (I discuss the research process here.)

Keep in mind that for some nonfiction topics and categories, the availability of online information can immediately kill the potential for a print book. Travel is a good example—its print sales have declined by 50 percent since 2007. Many book ideas I see pitched should really start out as a site or community—even if only to test-market the idea, to learn more about the target audience, and to ultimately produce a print product that has a ready and eager market once it’s published.

Target market or target audience

Who will buy your book? Why will it sell? In as much detail as possible, discuss an identifiable market of readers who will be compelled to spend money on your information or story in book form. However, avoid generically describing the book buying audience in the United States, or—for example—broadly discussing how many memoirs sold last year. Publishers don’t need to be given broad industry statistics; they need you to draw a clear portrait of the specific type of person (beyond “book buyers”) who will be interested in your book. We need to be able to envision who the readers are and how they can be marketed to.

It can be very tempting to make a broad statement about who your audience is, to make it sound like anyone and everyone is a potential reader. That doesn’t help you at all.

Avoid generic statements like these:

  • A Google search result on [topic] turns up more than 10 million hits.
  • A U.S. Census shows more than 20 million people in this demographic.
  • An Amazon search turns up more than 10,000 books with “dog” in the title

These are meaningless statistics. The following statements show better market insight:

  • Media surveys indicate that at least 50% of quilters plan to spend about $1,000 on their hobby this year, and 60% indicated they buy books on quilting.
  • Recent reviewers of [X books] complain that they are not keeping up with new information and trends.
  • The New York Times recently wrote about the increased interest in military memoirs; [X and Y] media outlets regularly profile soldiers who’ve written books abour their experience.

Marketing plan

What can you specifically do to market and promote the book? Never discuss what you hope to do, only what you can and will do (without publisher assistance), given your current resources. Many people write their marketing plan in extremely tentative fashion, talking about things they are “willing” to do if asked. This is deadly language. Avoid it. Instead, you need to be confident, firm, and direct about everything that’s going to happen with or without the publisher’s help. Make it concrete, realistic, and attach numbers to everything.

Weak
I plan to register a domain and start a blog for my book.

Strong
Within 6 months of launch, my blog on [book topic] already attracts 5,000 unique visits per month.

Weak
I plan to contact bloggers for guest blogging opportunities.

Strong
I have also guest blogged every month for the past year to reach another 250,000 visitors, at sites such as [include 2-3 examples of most well-known blogs]. I have invitations to return on each site, plus I’ve made contact with 10 other bloggers for future guest posts.

Weak
I plan to contact conferences and speak on [book topic].

Strong
I am in contact with organizers at XYZ conferences, and have spoken at 3 events within the past year reaching 5,000 people in my target audience.

The secret of a marketing plan isn’t the number of ideas you have for marketing, or how many things you are willing to do, but how many solid connections you have—the ones that are already working for you—and how many readers you NOW reach through today’s efforts. You need to show that your ideas are not just pie in the sky, but real action steps that will lead to concrete results and a connection to an existing readership.

Author bio

It can be helpful to begin with a bio you already use at your website or at LinkedIn. But don’t just copy and paste your bio into the proposal and consider the job done. You have to convince agents and editors you’re the perfect author for the book. That means you need to tailor your bio and background for the book idea you’re proposing. Show how your expertise and experience give you the perfect platform from which to address your target audience. If this is a weak area for you, look for other strengths that might give you credibility with readers or help sell books—such as connections to experts or authorities in the field, a solid online following, and previous success in marketing yourself and your work.

Overview

This comes at the very beginning of your proposal; think of it as the executive summary, around two to three pages. I suggest you write it last. It needs to sing and present a water-tight business case.

Chapter outline (or table of contents)

A chapter outline works well for narrative or meaty works, especially those that are text-heavy and anticipated to come in at 80,000 words or more. For each chapter, you write a brief summary of the idea, information, or story presented, usually 100-200 words per chapter.

If writing a chapter outline seems redundant or unnecessary for your book’s content, then use a table of contents. And if you want to use both, that’s completely acceptable. The most important thing is to show how your book concept will play out from beginning to end, and strongly convey the scope and range of material covered.

Sample chapters

If you’re writing a narrative work that has a distinct beginning, middle, and end, then include sample material that starts at the beginning of the book. If your work isn’t a narrative, then write or include a sample chapter that you think is the meatiest or most impressive chapter. Don’t try to get off easy by using the introduction; this is your opportunity to show that you can deliver on your book’s promise.

Common problems with book proposals

  • They’ve been submitted to an inappropriate agent, editor, or publisher.
  • The writer hasn’t articulated a clearly defined market or need—or the writer has described a market that’s too niche for a commercial publisher to pursue.
  • The concept is too general or broad, or has no unique angle.
  • The writer wants to do a book based on his or her own amateur experience of overcoming a problem or investigating a complex issue. (No expertise or credentials.)
  • The writer concentrates only on the content of the book or his own experience—instead of the book’s hook and benefit and appeal to the marketplace.
  • The proposed idea is like a million others; nothing compelling sets the book apart.

If you’re told the market isn’t big enough, maybe you approached too big of a publisher. Is there a smaller publisher that would be interested because they have a lower threshold of sales to meet? Big houses may want to sell as many as 20,000 copies in the first year to justify publication; smaller presses may be fine with a few thousand copies.

The most common problem leading to rejection: no author platform

A sizable platform and expertise is typically required to successfully sell a nonfiction book to a major publisher, especially for competitive categories such as health, self-help, or parenting. (Here’s a definition of platform.An agent or editor is going to evaluate your visibility in the market, and will want to know the following:

  • The stats and analytics behind your online following, including all websites, blogs, social media accounts, e-mail newsletters, regular online writing gigs, podcasts, videos, etc.
  • Your offline following—speaking engagements, events, classes/teaching, city/regional presence, professional organization leadership roles and memberships, etc.
  • Your presence in traditional media (regular gigs, features, any coverage you’ve received, etc)
  • Your network strength—reach to influencers or thought leaders, a prominent position at a major organization or business
  • Sales of past books or self-published works

You typically need to be visible to tens of thousands of people, with verifiable influence, to interest a major publisher. Traditional houses are pickier than ever; producing anything in print is a significant investment and risk. They need to know there’s an audience waiting to buy. Plus, given the significant change in the publishing industry, authors shouldn’t consider a print book their first goal or the end goal, but merely one way, and usually not the best way, for making money.

More resources on book proposals


My extended curriculum on book proposals

For more than a decade, I worked at a mid-size publisher that specialized in nonfiction; I was also an editor at an award-winning literary journal specializing in journalism and narrative nonfiction. I’ve prepared book proposals for myself and critiqued hundreds of others. If you need help with your proposal, here’s what I offer.

How to Write a Powerful Book Proposal That Sells ($99)

If you haven’t yet written your proposal, here’s what I can offer you:

  • A 3-hour video lecture series, broken down into six segments: The Big Picture, Research, Platform, Proposal Writing, Industry Know-How, and Selling
  • A series of worksheets to aid in your research process that makes writing the proposal far more simple and enjoyable
  • A book proposal template
  • Sample book proposals

I’ve taught numerous conference workshops and online classes on book proposals, so my lectures anticipate your questions and address all the most common mistakes and weaknesses I see. To find out more, click here. After your purchase is complete, you’ll get immediate access to the course and all curriculum.

I also offer critique services if your proposal is already written.

Start Here -- How to Write a Book Proposal: This post is a companion to Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published. My expertise on this topic comes from more than a decade of acquisitions experience at a traditional publisher, where I reviewed thousands of proposals.


Upcoming Online Classes

Posted in Getting Published and tagged , , , , .
Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the co-founder and editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors.

Jane currently teaches writing and publishing at the University of Virginia and is a columnist for Publishers Weekly. The Great Courses just released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. She also has a book forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, The Business of Being a Writer (2017).

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

Join the conversation

168 Comments on "Start Here: How to Write a Book Proposal"

Notify of
avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
trackback

[…] Most nonfiction: You must write a book proposal (basically like a business plan for your book) that will convince a publisher to contract and pay you to write the book. For more information on book proposals and what they entail, click here. […]

AL Levenson
AL Levenson
3 years 9 months ago

Thanks

Ransom Stephens
3 years 9 months ago

Wrt expertise, Malcolm Gladwell has no subject matter credentials and he seems to use that as an advantage. Could you address expertise counter examples like this and how to leverage expertise between fields?

trackback

[…] Start Here: How to Write a Book Proposal | Jane Friedman […]

trackback

[…] How to Write A Book Proposal by Jane Friedman. This is an in-depth look, lots of insight and resource links – recommended read. […]

Marlene Adelstein
Marlene Adelstein
3 years 9 months ago

As usual, a wealth of great information. Well organized, articulate, easy to understand. Thank you, Jane.

trackback

[…] To: Start Here: How to Write a Book Proposal, by Jane Friedman – “A book proposal argues why your book (idea) is a salable, […]

trackback

[…] To: Start Here: How to Write a Book Proposal, by Jane Friedman – “A book proposal argues why your book (idea) is a salable, […]

trackback

[…] Friedman has just released an extensive, free new guide for nonfiction writers on her site: Start Here: How to Write a Book Proposal. Back to Table of Contents @ebooknoir Honestly, I’m beginning to think that I should reduce […]

Teresa Robeson
3 years 9 months ago

I think this could be very helpful to my husband (climatologist/geographer and long time organic gardener) when he goes to write/pitch his book on gardening and climate for the lay person. 🙂 Thank you!

trackback

[…] Grabbing an agent’s attention is key for traditional publishing. Rachelle Gardner has the formula for writing a one sentence summary for fiction, while Jane Friedman shows how to write a non-fiction book proposal. […]

trackback

[…] How To Write A Book Proposal via @JaneFriedman […]

Jess
Jess
3 years 9 months ago

This is great info for me. I’ve been researching for a specific idea I’m nursing, scared to make the first move. In fact, I’m listing all the questions I have and hoping to meet with you at the Oklahoma conference in the Spring. Hope that’s do-able. 🙂 I’ve read many How To book proposal books – but in a nutshell, this info helps me focus more than any. Thanks so much!

Rob
Rob
3 years 9 months ago

Jane, lots of good info here. Couldn’t agree more. In fact, I’d argue that a book proposal is just as important for the author as it is for anyone else. The proposal is a key element which is often overlooked or pushed aside, but in reality, it can be detrimental to an author’s success before anyone even turns the book’s cover.

ShaiLynn
ShaiLynn
3 years 8 months ago

This has actually been really helpfull I have been trying to find a publisher for the book I am currently writing and this is really vital information to help me take the first step on my journey to write my first book and get it published thank you for making a post about this it’s really really helpful!

I’ve been really nervous about taking the first step and this is the first thing that I have read that actually has given me a direction

trackback

[…] And in related read­ing: Fried­man has just released an exten­sive, free new guide for non­fic­tion writ­ers on her site: Start Here: How to Write a Book Pro­posal. […]

trackback
3 years 7 months ago

[…] want to consult Writer’s Market for article submissions, as well as this comprehensive column on writing a book proposal by Jane […]

mohd suhail mohd sufian
mohd suhail mohd sufian
3 years 7 months ago

Thank! this really help me on my first book 🙂

stefano
stefano
3 years 6 months ago
hello jane. my name is stefano magaddino and I am the grandson of Stefano magaddino the western New York mafia Don. There are hundreds of mafia books out there, each with a different approach. I am planning to write about my grandfather in terms of being my Papa. Personal stories of our relationship. No new “inside” info, just memories of what he was like as a person. A man I loved. What do you think? I looked at your post and did not seem to fit in any one category. Please advise. Thank you, Stefano. ( if possible e-mail me:… Read more »
Lara Leger
Lara Leger
3 years 6 months ago
I have had on my heart for quite a while now, a book idea. It is a much needed thing & when I Googled, there was only one book in that particular field (a devotional book)—& we’re dealing with the Christian book market too, I want to add—So I know this idea is not overdone & I know it’s a need. The type of book (non-fiction) that it is, it will not be like the other book out there. I’m doing it to help others who find themselves in the same situation I am in, to find strength & encouragement.… Read more »
Nicole Price
Nicole Price
3 years 6 months ago

Hi Jane, Very useful information… I am looking at writing about cyberbullying but am struggling to find publishing houses within the south pacfic region that I live in. Is it ok to approach US publishers when I am so far away? Also should I be looking at ebooks as a form of publishing given the content I am writing about?
Regards Nicole

Joy
Joy
3 years 6 months ago

Can a true story based on a person’s actual experience during a particular time in their life be considered Non-Fiction?

trackback

[…] A great article about the what, why, how and when of writing a book proposal from the ex-Publisher of Writer’s Digest and current editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review. […]

Bridget D
Bridget D
3 years 5 months ago

Hi Jane, great and useful advice, but I have a couple of questions: I have completed the first draft of a travel memoir about my experience travelling in India but I am confused about whether I need to write a proposal for it, as it is non-fiction, or a synopsis, as for a memoir/fiction. Also I feel my platform is not very strong. I was a magazine journalist for seven years, writing occasional travel pieces and wrote a blog while in India but otherwise nothing else. Should I be concerned about this?

kayla
kayla
3 years 5 months ago

Dear Ms. Jane Friedman,

I am currently in the process of completing my four book series on a crime fiction novel about gone wrong. I won’t say more without completely giving the entire series away. I have tried in the past six years to send out query letters to publishers/literary agents. But I haven’t had any luck.Do you have any advice or tips? Thank you.

Kayla

SteveFabry
SteveFabry
3 years 4 months ago

What value does the publisher bring, if the author’s done all that you propose?

Andrew Kensley
Andrew Kensley
3 years 4 months ago
Hi Jane. Really helpful info. I am working on a book proposal for a travel memoir about moving my family to Europe. From my research, it seems there is a market for a) travel memoirs, and b) and few good ones about families moving with young children. I think I have a decent platform, as I write a newspaper parenting column and feature articles for several magazines, and am shopping a literary novel as well. Any chance an agent would give an advance for something like this? I couldn’t afford to quit my job and move, write the book, then… Read more »
Diana
Diana
3 years 4 months ago

Great advice Jane, thanks for all of this! I am hoping to find some more information about how to format the author qualifications portion of a proposal. Does it need to read more like the dust jacket bio or can it be more in depth than that? I began writing it more like a conversation pointing out which of my qualifications make me the right person for the book but I’m starting to wonder if it needs to be a more general, third person account. Thanks again for your insights.

trackback

[…] This post is by far the most complete one, giving you pretty much everything you need to know on the subject. It explains the difference in proposals between traditional non-fiction and narrative non-fiction, helps you write a strong proposal, and gives a very thorough overview of the book proposal. […]

chuck
chuck
3 years 3 months ago
Jane, retired corporate exec writing a coming of age memoir of three year boyhood period residing in New Zealand during early 1960’s. Will include extent the unique experience/pristine environment shaped who I have become. Having trouble identifying target market. Would you suggest both a proposal and completed manuscript for this approach? Limited platform but confident in writing style and ability to tell a story. Do write feature columns & movie reviews for local newspaper that are well-received by editor, readership. Have several unpublished short stories that received high marks in creative writing classes. thanks for your invaluable insights/cl
gloria
gloria
3 years 3 months ago

A friend referred me to this post. Thanks for laying it all out–this is helpful, as I have several projects in mind. One involves a collection of humorous anecdotes (some involving parenting, some involving my childhood, some involving ridiculous people) previously published on an old blog that is no longer accessible. Would you suggest a book proposal and sample chapters for that project?

TJ
TJ
3 years 3 months ago

How do you prevent from your material being copied or stolen during the initial phase of seeking feed back and when should you have it copyright protected? Thanks

C Moore
C Moore
3 years 3 months ago

Wouldn’t it be easier to write, print, market and sell the book yourself then hand over most of your earnings to a publisher? I’ve seen some terrible books around so I’m sure the process isn’t as stringent as you suggest. I hope nobody get’s put of writing by this article.

Eleanor
Eleanor
3 years 3 months ago

HI Jane,

Thanks for the post, super helpful! I have a question…I have read that it is helpful to address the cover letter of book proposals to a specific person. Ive tried calling the editorial departments of a few publishing houses to find out who I should be writing to but more often than not, usually the bigger ones, they say addressing the letter to the Editorial Dept is fine. Is it better to address it to no one in specific or pick one of the editors or publishers off the website and use their name?

Thank you for your help!

Cheers

Eleanor

trackback

[…] the level of demand your topic generates. For some help in this aspect, check out this article on how to write a book proposal. Ask yourself the 3 questions and understand the need for competitive analysis of your niche […]

Matt from Saverocity
3 years 3 months ago

Hi Jane, a great post, thanks for taking the time to lay this out there. Could I ask, what criteria would you consider when deciding if the book should be published in the traditional method above VS self publishing an eBook? What questions should one ask of the product/author to help determine the best route to take?

trackback

[…] Start Here: How to Write a Book Proposal […]

Shenoa Herlinger
Shenoa Herlinger
3 years 2 months ago
Dear Jane, I have been tossing around a non-fiction book idea (personal experiences plus anecdotes from interviews on the same types of experiences) for several years now. I have finally decided to take the plunge and just do it. I had no clue how to get started and I admit, that is definitely what was holding me back. Your blog and website are so comprehensive and detailed as to be overwhelming and intimidating but it most assuredly lays the groundwork for success if certain steps are followed and certain measures taken. Thank you for providing a step-by-step guide for us… Read more »
trackback

[…] publisher of Writer’s Digest, publishing industry veteran, and educator—says that you have to address in your book proposal. Less pithy industry vets say that you need to be able to explain what your book is about and why […]

Krissy Moehl
Krissy Moehl
3 years 2 months ago

This is the first of likely many resources I am tapping in a process of joining the literary world. Thank you for such concise information and great links to more.

Kasari
Kasari
3 years 2 months ago

Thank you for your very helpful insights Jane! It appears to me from reading the post above that a blog or personal website is necessary to show that you have a ready made audience. Is this true? I appear regularly in local and national media and have regular public speaking gigs – do you think this will be sufficient to show readership or should I work on building a blog before going further on my book proposal?

Alex
Alex
3 years 2 months ago

Thanks so much for your post. I am a new book editor, and I recently completed editing a manuscript for a book by a dermatologist. He has his own product line, has been interviewed on TV numerous times and has keynoted many professional conferences. My question: given that the book is already written, and given that he has some decent name recognition/seen as an authority in his field, what should be my next step?

Kathleen Richardson
Kathleen Richardson
3 years 1 month ago
Hi Jane: I need some direction: I’m about two-thirds of the way through my memoir of living with and loving an abusive alcoholic who was also a womanizer on a grand scale. I’ve had the first 70 pages critiqued by a Writer’s Digest person and she says, “You are a good writer,” and “I LOVE the opening passages about the sky writer. They’re brilliant? I was swept right into that writing,” and a comment about my characters feeling “whole.” My questions: should I put the book on the back burner and focus on finding an agent? And, should I do… Read more »
Kathleen Richardson
Kathleen Richardson
3 years 1 month ago

Hi Jane: It’s Kathleen again. Whoops, I meant to put an exclamation mark after “brilliant” instead of a question mark. It’s the critiquer’s mark, not mine.

Susan Kerr
Susan Kerr
3 years 1 month ago

Jane, What would you recommend for a book proposal for a war diary? (Civil War) Thanks for this excellent article.
Susan

Michelle
3 years 1 month ago

Thank you so much for this article, it’s the best I’ve seen on writing a book proposal.

Cindy
Cindy
3 years 29 days ago

Good morning
I am a public school bus driver for elementary school children. There is so much to be said , I believe with my heart. Any advice?

Guylaine
Guylaine
3 years 2 days ago

If you have a web site on a closely-related topic, how do you decide then what to share on the web site and what to save for the book?

Thebe
Thebe
2 years 10 months ago
Hello Jane, thank you for the very helpful post. I pitched my memoir at a recent conference and some agents have requested partials and an annotated outline. I have a question about the partials — the agents’ websites emphatically say NO ATTACHMENTS. Wow, does that mean I paste 50 pages’ worth of content into the body of an email? All single spaced? Do I keep the double spaces after periods? My second question is about the outline since there’s so much conflicting advice out there. Should the chapter summaries be third-person? Present tense? But I keep reading that proposals should… Read more »
DodgerBlueGal
DodgerBlueGal
2 years 10 months ago

Thanks! Very helpful. I feels possible now! 🙂

wpDiscuz