Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why


Want to publish your book?

Learn how—it's easier than you think!

Charismatic authors and literary agents Jeff Herman and Deborah Levine Herman have successfully sold hundreds of titles and learned—through trial and error—how to write a flawless book proposal that publishers can't resist. Now you can benefit from their hard work and publishing savvy. In this new edition, they offer guidance and advice that will inspire, educate, and, most ...

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Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why

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Want to publish your book?

Learn how—it's easier than you think!

Charismatic authors and literary agents Jeff Herman and Deborah Levine Herman have successfully sold hundreds of titles and learned—through trial and error—how to write a flawless book proposal that publishers can't resist. Now you can benefit from their hard work and publishing savvy. In this new edition, they offer guidance and advice that will inspire, educate, and, most importantly, give you the necessary edge to get your book published. They explain:

* How to shape your idea and create a title

* Ways to get to know the market and competition

* Tips on writing an effective outline, query letter, and sample chapter

* The art and science of fiction and nonfiction book proposals

* How ten actual proposals (included here) were successfully sold to publishers—and why

"A submission from Jeff Herman always gets moved to the top . . . his new book will show you how to move to the top."—Frederic W. Hills Vice President, Simon & Schuster

"This book will take writers to the highest level of proposal writing and success."—Roger Cooper Quality Paperback Book Club

"If you want your proposal to ignite a busy editor's interest, read this book."—Adrienne Hickey Senior Acquisitions Editor, AMACOM Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471353126
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 5/28/2001
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 625,874
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

JEFF HERMAN is president of his own very successful literary agency and has been profiled in Success, Entrepreneur, and Publishers Weekly. His Web site is www.jeffherman.com.
DEBORAH LEVINE HERMAN is an attorney, a literary agent, a writer, and a proficient "proposal doctor."

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Read an Excerpt

(From Chapter 3)
Almost every editor at every publishing house has a stack of book proposals or manuscripts waiting to be reviewed at any given time. If you start your proposal with a powerful statement, you can distinguish yourself from the pack.
The overview portion of your proposal is—or should be—that powerful statement. The overview is your first opportunity to grab an editor’s attention and presell your idea. This first impression will strongly influence the potential for an ultimate sale.
The overview should convey these four major points:

What your book is about,
Why your book should be written,
How you plan to write it,
Why you are the best person for the job.

Leading with Your Best Shot
Writers are sometimes too close to their project to be objective about its presentation. They assume that an editor will read between the lines and see how great their book is going to be. Don’t conserve your energy here in order to save the “important stuff” for the outline or the sample chapter. The overview can open—or close—the door for you.
In general, the overview should contain a synopsis of your proposed book as well as any persuasive material that supports your case. It’s a sales tool much like a prospectus. View it as your opportunity to have five minutes of a publisher’s undivided attention. If you had just five minutes face to face with a publisher, what would you say?
Your lead paragraph is important. There are many possibilities for a powerful lead paragraph that will catch an editor’s attention. But powerful does not necessarily mean fancy, creative, or clever. In nonfiction, you are not trying to impress an editor with your mastery of five-syllable words or metaphoric didacticism. You are trying to communicate information.
If your book calls for it, you can use some of the same techniques you’d use in writing a magazine article:

An anecdotal lead—one that tells a story leading into your book idea,
A startling statistic that would support your thesis,
A clear and concise statement of exactly what your book is about.

The last approach is usually the safest and most effective. If you haven’t said what your book is about by the third paragraph, you’re pushing your luck and trying the editor’s patience.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition.




The Concept: Shaping Your Idea.

The Title: Creating an Image.

The Overview: Writing Power Paragraphs.

The Markets Section: Who Will Buy Your Book?

The Competition Section: What else Is Out There?

The Promotion Section: What Can You Do to Help Your Book Sell?

The Author Background Section: Presenting Yourself in Your Best Light.

The Outline: Getting It Organized and Making It Persuade.

The Sample Chapter: Proving You Can Do the Job.

What About Fiction?: The Art and Science of Selling Fiction.

Writing Memoir and Narrative Nonfiction.

Query Letter, Submissions, and Sage Advice.


Proposal 1. 10 Habits of Naturally Slim People...And How to Make Them Part of Your Life.

Proposal 2. How to Get Clients: An Easy and Practical Program to Build Your Business.

Proposal 3. Black Roots: A Beginner's Guide to Tracing the Family Tree.

Proposal 4. How Saturn Reinvented the Customer Loyalty Wheel: "No Hassle" Steps ANY Business Can Use!

Proposal 5. The Creativity Toolbox.

Proposal 6. In the Beginning ... A Keepsake Record of Before-Birth Memories Written and Illustrated by "Julie Karen".

Proposal 7. Trust Your Guts! Develop Your Business Intuition and Win—Consistently.

Proposal 8. Workstyles to Fit Your Lifestyle: The Hands-on Guide to Temporary Employment.

Proposal 9. Heart and Soul: A Psychological and Spiritual Guide to Preventing and Healing Heart Disease.

Proposal 10. Taxes Made Easy for Home-Based Businesses: The Complete Plain Language Tax Guide for Home-Based Entrepreneurs and Home-Office Workers.

Book Proposal Terms.

Suggested Reading.

Web Sites.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2004

    Want to write a book? BUY THIS ONE FIRST!

    This is the best book out there for writers who want to get a book published. Getting started is always the hardest part, and this book helps tremendously. Perhaps you have a fully-fleshed out idea already, or perhaps it's just the germ of an idea: either way, this book will help you get organized. As an editor who sees raw, unedited versions of professional writers' work, I've seen many mediocre writers get books published, while much better writers can't seem to catch a break. The difference? How they present themselves. This book will show you, in a crystal-clear, straightforward manner, how to pitch your book in a way that will maximize your chance of getting published. DEFINITELY worth buying!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 25, 2010

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    Posted October 27, 2009

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