Archive for January 2010

Writing a Book Proposal

January 29, 2010

A while back, I wrote this piece about what happens to your book once it’s been accepted at a publishing house. But, before a writer gets to that point, they have to do a lot of work – including write a book proposal. Generally, if a writer is interested in writing a book, they do one of four things.

1) Contact their existing agent, and see if the agent thinks the new book is a good idea. If the agent doesn’t, they either don’t write the book or they decide to find another agent for that book. If the agent likes the idea, they will work together to create a book proposal.

2) The writer creates a query letter about their book that they send to agents, hoping to find one that thinks they can sell the book. If someone shows interest in the query letter, the writer will then create a book proposal. The agent will look over the proposal, and if they are still interested in representing the book (ie. they think they can sell it to a publisher) they work with the author to improve the book proposal and perhaps look at the manuscript if it is already written. Then they begin submitting the proposal to publishers who they think may be interested in the work.

3) The writer creates a book proposal and submits THIS to agents. If an agent is interested, then the steps are the same as in option 2, starting with where the agent reviews the proposal.

4) A writer will send a proposal or a manuscript directly to a publisher. This is generally the least successful method for a number of reasons that I will not get into here.

So, all of these, excepting the last one, boil down to creating a book proposal. So what exactly IS a book proposal, anyway?