How To Write A Book Proposal, Part 1
John ShoreBesides here on Crosswalk, John blogs on JohnShore.com.
- 2008 Jun 28
I just finished and sent to my agent a book proposal. So now I have book proposals on my mind.
How fascinating, I know.
Actually, because I am a very famous writer known far and wide throughout my apartment complex, people very often ask me
why I'm staring into their window how to do a book proposal. And when they do I'm always kind of surprised, because wanting to get a book published and not knowing anything about book proposals is like wanting to be a dentist and not knowing anything about making people cry by drilling directly into their central nervous system.
So herewith is however much I'll be able to cram in here about book proposals before my beautiful wife wakes up from her nap so that we can go food shopping so that we can wail and cry aloud in the dairy section over the fact that a gallon of milk now costs more than a whole live cow.
If you're wanting a publisher to buy a non-fiction book you wrote, you have to write a book proposal for that book. You have absolutely no choice about that. None. Zero. Trying to sell a book without a book proposal is like trying to stage Hamlet without actors. You can try it, but people will first ridicule, then pity, then sic their dogs on you.
Important note: Book proposals are only for non-fiction books. If you want to write a book of fiction, you're going to have to finish that whole book and then submit it for publication, unless you're already such a famous fiction writer that there's no way you'd be reading this. If you're not sure about the difference between fiction and non-fiction, then you are James Frey, and I want to tell you that, honestly, I only read three pages of your book A Million Little Pieces before I literally threw it away, because it was that obvious you were lying. How it took Oprah and so many other people so long to discover that is yet another reason I despair for the entire human race.
Anyway, a book proposal is a document that, though Mondo Hefto indeed, is still a lot smaller than a whole book, which no one in publishing is going to want to take the time to read. It's a blueprint of your book, a comprehensive overview of it. It's everything a publisher would need to know about your book in order to decide if they want to risk their money publishing it.
It really is a book proposal. It's something you (through your agent) give to a publisher, by way of saying, "Will you marry this book?"
Speaking of marriages, my wife is up! If anyone cares, I'll continue this post at some point after the police have let us out of jail because they've realized that we're not miscreants intent on disturbing the peace, but only simple, reasonable folk who, like themselves, can no longer afford food.
Related post: Why A Book Proposal is Everything.
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