Posted by: annemartinfletcher | August 13, 2010

Help with Book Proposals (or If I Have to Read One More Proposal…)

Here goes, my book proposal is ready to be sent out.  Let the querying begin.

Wait, how did I know that my proposal was ready?

Well, first of all, I read three books and several websites on the formating and writing of book proposals. To my surprise, three out of the five websites I visited no longer explain the book proposal–it seems their authors have published books on how to get published, instead.  Fortunately, the best website is still here, from Adler & Robin Books.  Also, check out the web pages and blogs for the specific literary agent you wish to query.  Many agents tell you exactly what they want to see in a book proposal.  The main book I referenced is How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen.

Just as with my sample chapters, I spent time editing and re-editing my book proposal.  Unlike the narrative style of my manuscript, the book proposal resembles a business or marketing plan.  Fortunately, I found ways to weave my writing style into the proposal, particularly into the “Overview” and a tongue-in-cheek “Complementary book.”  Who knew that the first year at the Air Force Academy had so much in common with the first year at Hogwarts?

Finally, I asked some very knowledgeable people to review my proposal, including a literary novelist/editor, and Barbara Cameron, a successful non-fiction and genre fiction writer.  I met Barbara when we shared a desk for adjunct professors at a local college.  Barbara really put the proposal into perspective for me, comparing it to the mound of English papers she was grading.  “Remember that an agent looks at this pile and thinks, ‘If I have to read one more proposal I’m going to die.'”

Lesson learned:  Make your proposal short, salient, and exciting.


  1. Gee, I can hardly wait for you to get your book published. Sounds really interesting!

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