This is a great way to start our sojourn at this new website. One of my Twitter contacts, Ron Charles, linked today to Bill and Dave’s Cocktail Hour, and more particularly, to one great post: PROPOSING (“Will You…”).
If you’re a writer who wants to publish a non-fiction book, rush to that site and bookmark it. Dave Gessner has posted his book proposal – two versions of the proposal, actually – for a book called Learning to Surf.
This is valuable for you, because for a non-fiction book, agents and publishers don’t want a mere synopsis and sample chapters, as they do for a novel. They want an author bio, a complete outline of the book, summaries of each chapter, a sample chapter or two, and a comparison of your proposed book with related titles that are already out there. You need to do a lot of research and a lot of advance writing.
Mr. Gessner’s second version in particular contains pretty much all the sections required in a formal proposal. Some of the requirements vary, depending on the agent or publisher, but this proposal is pretty close. Keep an eye on what goes on there, to see what befalls Gessner’s book.
If you feel daunted by what you see of the proposal itself, I highly recommend The Art of the Book Proposal by Eric Maisel. He takes you step by step through the creation of a proposal, and by the time you’re done, you’re virtually ready to submit it. If you buy no other books to help you submit something to an agent or publisher, get this one.
(Thanks to Ron Charles at the Globe and Mail for the tweet.)