Writing a Non-Fiction Book Proposal: Where to Begin?
Writers ask us regularly if they can float a book idea past us to see if it might attract interest from publishers. If we know the writer, or they have a lot of credibility in their fields (whether as a writer or a professional in something else), we’ll usually be keen to hear it. And if it’s a strong concept, we might be interested in helping the author pull together a proposal that we can pitch.
But otherwise, like most agents, we do prefer that writers contact us when they have a draft proposal in hand. The success of a book pitch depends a lot on your execution, so we need to see how you would structure and deliver the material.
So where do you begin with drafting a non-fiction book proposal?
These are some of the resources we recommend regularly:
- a Page Two blog post called “How to Write an Effective Non-Fiction Book Proposal”
- a Page Two blog post called “How to Write a Competitive Analysis”
- “Start Here: How to Write a Book Proposal,” a terrific blog post by publishing expert and writers’ advocate Jane Friedman
- How to Write a Book Proposal, a book by Michael Larsen that is available through bookstores and libraries (published by Writers Digest Books)
- Write the Perfect Book Proposal: Ten That Sold and Why by Jeff Herman and Deborah Levine Herman, which includes specific examples and shows what made them work (published by Wiley)
Good luck with your proposal shaping! And don’t be daunted: if you’re using the proposal to pitch agents, you just need to catch her interest. Any good agent will give you editorial feedback on your proposal to make it as strong and marketable as possible before pitching it to a publisher.