How to Write a Book Proposal

How to Write a Book Proposal

by Michael Larsen
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How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen

The Source for Book Proposals Success!

How to Write a Book Proposal is THE resource for getting your work published. This newly revised edition of the Writer's Digest Books classic outlines how to create an effective, nonfiction book proposal in a clear, step-by-step manner. You'll learn the keys to a successful book proposal and how to:

  • Test-market the potential of a book idea and effectively communicate that potential in a proposal
  • Choose the best agents and editors for a particular proposal
  • Create a professional-looking proposal package
  • Predispose publishers to make their best offer

Notes agent and author Michael Larsen also provides insider insights into the publishing industry as well as a plethora of newly updated information including:

  • Recent changes in the publishing industry
  • Updated trend information
  • New sample proposals
  • Expanded instructions for creating outlines

You'll also find complete guidelines to becoming an effective self-promoter. How to Write a Book Proposal is a must-have for every writer!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781582977027
Publisher: F+W Media
Publication date: 04/18/2011
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Michael Larsen co-founded Michael Larsen-Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents, in 1972. He is a member of AAR. Mike is also the author of How to Get a Literary Agent , and with Jay Conrad Levinson and Rick Frishman, coauthor of Guerrilla Marketing for Writers.

Table of Contents

Part I Why The Book? Why You?

Chapter 1 Why Now Is the Best Time Ever to Write Books: Twenty Reasons for You to Be a Writer 2

Chapter 2 McBook: The Fastest, Easiest Way to Use This Book 6

Chapter 3 What's in It for You? Reasons to Use This Book 8

Chapter 4 Pushing Your Hot Buttons: Choosing the Right Book for You to Write 10

Chapter 5 Getting Off the Pin: The First Three Steps to Take With Your Idea 13

Part II Starting Off Right: Hooks, Benefits, and Titles

Chapter 6 Getting Paid to Write Your Book: The Parts of an Irresistible Proposal 16

Chapter 7 Selling the Sizzle: Your Opening and Hook 20

Chapter 8 Naming Rites: Finding the Answers You Need to Choose Your Title 28

Chapter 9 Your Selling Handle and the Models for Your Book 41

Chapter 10 Bennies for Readers, Royalties for You: Listing Your Book's Benefits 45

Chapter 11 Adding Value to Your Book: Special Features 47

Part III Following the Money: Your Book's Markets and Competition

Chapter 12 Following the Money: Four Kinds of Markets for Your Book 55

Chapter 13 Sizing Up the Comps: Competing and Complementary Books 66

Part IV Reaching Readers: Your Platform and Promotion Plan

Chapter 14 The Base of Your Golden Triangle: Creating the Communities You Need 74

Chapter 15 Eyes Are the Prize: Building the Platform Your Book Needs 79

Chapter 16 The Web as Synergy Machine: Building Your Online Platform 85

Chapter 17 Laying Your Life on the Lines: Your Bio 97

Chapter 18 Ushering Your Baby Into the World: Putting Your Promotion Plan on Paper 100

Chapter 19 Making Your Desk Promotion Central: Your Online Campaign 114

Chapter 20 Throwing Something in the Pot: Your Promotion Budget (Optional) 122

Chapter 21 Taking the Guesswork Out of Publishing: Fourteen Ways to Test-Market Your Book to Guarantee Its Success 126

Part V Adding Ammunition: Optional Parts of Your Overview

Chapter 22 Using Niche Craft to Create a Career Out of Your Idea: Spin-Offs 136

Chapter 23 Star Power: Your Foreword and Cover Quotes 139

Chapter 24 Your Call to Arms: A Mission Statement 144

Part VI Putting Meat on the Bones: Your Outline and Sample Chapter

Chapter 25 Chapter Choices: Finding the Best Way to Write Your Outline 148

Chapter 26 Giving Your Outlines Structure and Heft 162

Chapter 27 No Time for Sophomores: Strategies for Outlining Six Kinds of Books 165

Chapter 28 A Taste of the Feast: A Q$A Session About Your Sample Chapter 176

Part VII Ensuring Your Proposal Is Ready to Submit

Chapter 29 Making Your Proposal More Salable: The Benefits of Writing Your Manuscript First 184

Chapter 30 Making Your Work Look as Good as It Reads: Formatting Your Proposal 186

Chapter 31 The Breakfast of Champions: Getting Feedback on Your Proposal 190

Part VIII Finding a Happy Home for Your Book

Chapter 32 Publishing on the Vertical Slope of Technology: Seeking the Right Publisher for You and Your Book 197

Chapter 33 Get Published or Self-Publish: Do You Need a Publisher? 204

Chapter 34 The Hook, the Book, and the Cook: Write and Send Your (E-)Query Letter 206

Chapter 35 The First Impression: Making Your Proposal Look Like It's Worth What You Want for It 211

Chapter 36 DIY: The Joys of Self-Publishing 215

Chapter 37 Pushing the Envelope: How to Sell Your Book Yourself 218

Chapter 38 Meet the Matchmaker: How an Agent Can Help You 221

Chapter 39 Recipes for a Successful Book and the Best Publishing Experience 228

Part IX Plotting Your Future

Chapter 40 Starting With the End in Mind: Setting Your Personal and Professional Goals 231

Chapter 41 From Author to Authorpreneur: The Building Blocks for Growing From Small to Big 234

Chapter 42 Spring Is Coming: The Prologue 240


Appendix A Resource Directory 242

Appendix B Bringing in a Media Whiz: Why Hire a Publicist? 257

Appendix C Marketing Your Book With Other People's Money: The Quest for Partners to Help You Promote Your Book 259

Appendix D Four Sample Proposals 264

Index 318

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How to Write a Book Proposal 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
kvbwrites More than 1 year ago
This pretty much sums it up - a clear step-by-step manner to create an effective nonfiction book proposal. I loved the organization of this book: sidebars, bullet points, indices, actual examples. It's easy to find the main points, then go back and review them. As an instructional book, it's very easy to read and rather engaging. *I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the Thomas Nelson Book Sneeze program.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Noj t
CravingReader More than 1 year ago
HOW TO WRITE A BOOK PROPOSAL by Michael Larsen, is one of those books that are necessary to have at the reach of your hand if you are serious about writing. Michael Larsen's is a textbook, and a reference manual for those who've embarked in the journey of writing and wish to make a career out of it. The table of contents as well as the reference index, make it easier to find specific topics, carefully developed in the chapters that break down to the maximum level of detail in a very eloquent style, deprived of unnecessary academic jargon, not only the steps to follow to produce a marketable book proposal, but also the philosophy that any aspiring or established writer needs to embrace should he/she decides to make it in the business as a writer. Mr. Larsen does away with false modesty by encouraging the writer to pour out from his bones his/hers skills as well as his/hers particular style, starting with the author's biography. I enjoyed to the fullest how Michael Larsen gives a little bit of history in order to contextualize the Praxis of Writing. As working artists/writers, we need to embrace the fact that "Like other arts, writing is also a craft that also requires an apprenticeship (...) If you have a lifetime's worth of ideas for books you want to write, then you have to learn your craft. And you don't have to create a masterpiece to prove you're ready. Having a job that requires you to write may suffice." Another feature that I appreciate in reading and studying HOW TO WRITE A BOOK PROPOSAL by Michael Larsen, is the abundance of "Hot tips". They often act as a cut-to-the-chase summary of the particular subject matter, or specific aspects of writing and/or the business of writing, developed through the chapters in this excellent book. Michael Larsen demystifies the craft of writing, and how and author can become successful in the business of writing, by providing us with practical information and easy-to-follow steps in order to get the work done, and sent out to all the constituencies set in place by the business of writing. However, Mr. Larsen does not hesitate to explore new venues, and keep authors up-to-date on the fact that the business of writing is not just changing, it has already changed. There has been a need for subsequent editions of HOW TO WRITE A BOOK PROPOSAL by Michael Larsen. The author continues to add to them the insights of his clients while using this book as a tool, in order for them, and for all of us, to succeed in the process of paving careers as writers. Orlando Ferrand Award-winning writer
The_Boompa More than 1 year ago
I was asked "Why would you bother reading about how to write a book proposal for non-fiction books when you are a novelist?" For one I'm not sure I'll never write a non-fiction book and it has loads of good things in there for that. Two it is written by a west coast literary agent and since I live on the west coast it would be nice to have an agent that close. But there is a lot of good stuff in there for fiction writers as well.
Sbdotson More than 1 year ago
I would have to say that for being a book about such a dry subject, How to Write a Book Proposal, by Michael Larsen, communicated the information in an interesting format. While reading the book, I felt like the author was speaking to the average person out there trying to break into the publication business. Not too wordy or clouded with college words. Many how-to books leave out basic but critical pieces of information. Mr. Larsen does a good job of starting at ground zero and providing necessary information without distracting the reader while off on a tangent. I particularly appreciated the insider tips keying in on what publishers are looking for in a book proposal. These tips coupled with the blueprint on how to construct and execute a book proposal were very helpful and I look forward to applying them in the future.
BSwanson More than 1 year ago
The 288 page book, How To Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen, is more than just a how-to book on writing a proposal. It is filled with multiple aspects of the business of selling a book that only experience can provide. It is an easy-read with short chapters. I sometimes caught myself wondering if I was reading a text book because there was so much valuable advice. I found the book eye-opening as I have written a book and am using his suggestions to help me get it published. A few of the facts provide within the book seemed a bit of a stretch. For example, he attempted to make a case for the fact that now is the best time to be a writer because 6% of aspiring writers are able to make a living off the profits of their writing as compared to only 1% of aspiring actors making it as actors. In my mind, 6% is still not a wonderful percentage. However, this aspiring writer is using the information from this book to help her write her book proposal. So in that case, it certainly lives up to its title.
Gladys35 More than 1 year ago
I have a dream, a dream that someday. Oh wait, wrong dream. My dream is to someday be published. I know, you say "Gladys you are published. You are on the World Wide Web and that is published." I mean published as in have a manuscript lingering on the New York Times Bestseller's list for 50 bazillion months. I decided to be proactive and do my research. Thomas Nelson publishing gave me the opportunity to review Michael Larsen's How to Write a Book Proposal and I of course jumped on it. I waited anxiously for the arrival of the text. When it arrived in the mail I tore into it like a fat chick into Oreo's. I began ravenously devouring the years of knowledge Mr. Larsen has in the literary world. He explained the basics of the proposal as well as infusing his text with stories from submittals he has seen both good and bad. He writes with a flow that keeps the work both interesting and absorbable. He explains the importance of titles as well as what you can do to market your manuscript. He takes you all the way through from how to bring your idea to fruition to submitting your proposal. He includes examples of proposals and ideas for making your work rise above the fray. Although Mr. Larsen's book was aimed at the non-fiction genre it seems to be just as viable for the fiction world. I am excited to recommend this to other aspiring novelists who are struggling to get the perfect proposal sent to the best publisher for their work.
caroleledbetter More than 1 year ago
how to write a book proposal, 3rd Edition, by michael Larsen If you are a writer looking to publish your work, you need this book! You may even wonder, as I did, if there is a book in you that you need to write, so that you can follow the clear, understandable process that Larsen outlines. Larsen's book is enjoyable, informative, authoritative, specific, time-saving, professional, and comprehensive. I consider it a valuable addition to my writing library and, if I ever sit down and actually write one of the several books floating around in my head, I will follow the instructions given in this excellent guide to publishing. The author gives fourteen good reasons for publishing a new edition of his book. He has included illustrations, such as "The Publishing Process" on page 62, and four actual book proposal samples in the appendix. The Checklist for Your Proposal, Appendix A, will be helpful to writers. I also loved Chapter 27, "An Ending Prologue," and appreciated the Style Guide, Chapter 21. Reading this book will cause you to drag out that manuscript you've been waiting to publish! I received a complimentary copy of this book through the BookSneeze Program by Thomas Nelson. Reviewed by Carole Ledbetter, author of "Who Am I Now? Growing Through Life's Changing Seasons," published 2007 by Winepress/Pleasant Word. June 3, 2011
mmary More than 1 year ago
wanta publish a book? you need to read this one. consider it one of the essentials. what more is there to say?
HappyJG More than 1 year ago
I recently requested How to Write a Book Proposal from Thomas Nelson's book review options because I may one day want to write a book proposal. Not now. Not this year. But someday. Anyway, I read it because I'm supposed to read the books I get for free and now I'm reviewing it for the very same reason: How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larson is a book about book proposals. It is thorough, detailed, and I predict, helpful. It's also easy to read and jargon-less. It is also, however, depressing. At one point, Larson encourages me to list well-known celebrities/stars/popular writers who have provided testimonials for my book (I'm supposed to track those down? Do I just call up Stephen King?) He also asks me to be thorough in listing all the ways publishers can make money off of me (Isn't that what marketing people are for?). Don't get me wrong. This is an excellent resource. It's just one I realized I wasn't quite ready to use. P.S. I was far and away most excited about the idea of including a "surprise" in my proposal-a small gift to help the editor remember my book. That's something I can spend all day thinking about-a perfect distraction from thinking about my terrible writing and relative obscurity.
chechu More than 1 year ago
How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen is a great resource for people who want to submit their literary work to a literary agency or to a publishing company effectively.It starts with an introduction on why you should consider writing your own literary work. It also includes picking the right book to write, getting paid to write your book, addng value to your book and many more. The book was interesting to me because I'd always liked to publish a real book. Michael Larsen surely organized the book neatly. He let me think and feel that writing a book is a great and interesting thing that anyone could do. I would definitely recommend this book to my family, friends, and other people especially to those people who are interested in writing and those who have the potential to write. Do you think you could write your own book? Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
fess2us More than 1 year ago
Disclaimer: I got this book Free as a Preview for my E-reader (Nook) Anyways ... Lots of people have told me - You should write a book. I've thought about writing a book. I have had several friends write books: Len Evans, Marko, Adam M, Matt. M, Dan K, Tim M And I've been mentioned in a few books and quoted as such. I, even, am listed as an author on Youth Specialties So I had much interest in reading this book. Mostly not due to me writing a book proposal but others and others concerning it. (My friend, Deanna) As I've been reading this book I thought of Tom Evans' much shorter version book called How to Write a Great Book and Get it Published. Anyways ...How to write a book proposal is a practical insight guide - must use guide for those wishing to get their ideas from paper to book form and published. In other words is How to Get a book proposal for Dummies edition. The author goes through the basics of why write? Why you? Why the Propsal? Selling it, the value of your book and the audience, who is it to be marketed to? What is the community, platform? Making the most with technology out there and how you as the author is going to promote the book. The author's guide is a good one for anyone interested in writing and having their own book published. As for me ... I'm just taking my time and doing my writing one word at a time. Best to pick up this copy when you can.
Morgie More than 1 year ago
A review of the table of contents is enough to cause the interested reader's heart to race. And if you are a nonfiction writer with a book to market or an idea to propose - you'll be interested. But does the book live up to the chapter headings? Why, yes it does . and more. The author reveals "Why now is the best time ever to write a book." (There are 20 good ones listed in chapter one!) "Getting off the pin: the first three steps to take with your idea." "Getting paid to write your book: the parts of an irresistible proposal." While novels have to be written before marketing, nonfiction is generally offered to the publishing house with a sparkling proposal. Did you know a proposal has three parts . overview, outline, sample chapter? Selling the sizzle, naming rites, sizing up the comps, getting published or self-published, and finally "from author to authorpreneur" everything the nonfiction writer needs is contained here. I've taught this class many times over the years. This book (the revised 4th edition) is fresh, up to date, and very valuable. I highly recommend it.
tiffmalloy More than 1 year ago
I didn't know how much I didn't know about writing a book (or proposal) until I read How to Write a Book Proposal, 4th edition (by Michael Larson). This book is one that has been used by many people in helping them get published. Note: This book certainly does not claim to get a person published. However, it does tell you how to create a proposal that is something that publishers are looking for. Anyway, this book has 42 short chapters that are easily navigable, allowing the reader to focus on the areas that they need. However, I suggest that every person who thinks they are serious about writing a book (and publishing it) get a hold on a copy of this book BEFORE writing! The author included a lot of things in this book that I would have not thought of- literature review suggestions, creating a promotional plan, figuring out which publisher would be best for your book (or when to go with self-publishing), AND a few sample proposals (samples are always helpful for me to see). So, if you are SERIOUS about publishing a book, this one is definitely one you need to look at! Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
MikeG More than 1 year ago
New Year's resolution for the seventh consecutive year: Do not purchase any more books about how to write a book, edit a book, publish a book, sell a book, self-publish a book, or read a book until I've actually written a book. Nine out of ten New Year's resolutions are broken by the end of the year so I suppose there is no reason to try to keep this resolution. Enter How to Write a Book Proposal (3rd edition) by Michael Larsen. Exit resolution. Rather than wax eloquently about Larsen's book (over 100,000 copies sold!), permit me to simply share what I liked and disliked about it. I liked that it has been "newly updated and revised." I disliked that Larsen and his publisher remind me of this fact about a million times throughout the book. I liked that it has been "newly updated and revised." I disliked not being able to find the date of the update and revision. According to Amazon this third update and revision happened in 2004. I thought I was reviewing the 4th edition which is the newest new update and revision but, alas, it was the 3rd edition that arrived in the mailbox. All of which is to say, it's pointless for me to continue with my likes and dislikes about the 3rd edition being terribly behind the curve ball in the publishing universe. Edition number aside, How to Write a Book Proposal (3rd edition), is not completely obsolete. Larsen included some helpful tips, pertinent examples, and simple trajectory for writing a book proposal that will all but ensure your proposal catches a publisher's roving eye. However, there is little in this 3rd Edition that could not be found on any number of publisher websites for free, which sure beats the $15.99 cover price ($17.99 in Canada) for a now-out-of-date-newly-updated-and-revised-edition.
cleffairy More than 1 year ago
'How to Write A Book Proposal' by Micheal Larson is a classic guidebook on how to write an effective proposal for your book so that it will be published by publishers. As an aspiring author, I found that this book is rather useful though I already knew most of the things mentioned in the book. The book is rather thick in my opinion, and I think some of the things ought to be ommitted from the book. But then again, it's still a good reference book and I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars. Not necessarily a must have in everyone's personal library, but might be helpful for aspiring authors like me. Book description: With more than 100,000 copies sold, How to Write a Book Proposal has been the go-to resource for getting your work published for almost 25 years. This Writer's Digest classic from literary agent Michael Larsen outlines in a clear step-by-step manner how to create an effective nonfiction book proposal. The 4th edition of the book features information about recent changes in the publishing industry, updated trend information, new sample proposals, a completely updated resources section, and a new chapter on online promotion. **Please note that this book is not explicitly Christian in content. If you are looking for a Christian Living titles featuring a large amount of faith-centered content, this titles may not be the best selection for you. I received this ARC from Thomas Nelson Publisher. I was not compensated in any ways for writing this review.
middletree More than 1 year ago
I received a free copy of Michael Larsen's book, "How To Write a Book Review" from Thomas Nelson Publishing as part of their Booksneeze program for bloggers. I don't know if I will ever write a book, but I can dream, can't I? Having never written one, I can't say for sure that this book will be effective, but it sure is an interesting read. It appears to have all the bases covered. This book is divided into many very small, easy to digest chapters, and I look forward to applying it, once I figure out what to write about. Sadly, that is the one bit of information this book doesn't offer. But I cannot hold that against it. "How to Write a Book Proposal" not only contains directions and advice for crafting a book proposal, but also guidance on the writing of the book, writing an outline, hiring a publicist, finding a niche, promoting your book, and several other items, plus four sample proposals. The Appendix, with links to dozens of helpful books, websites, and other resources, is probably worth ten times the cost of the book. After reading this book, I am inspired to go and create something worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RICHARDDEERING More than 1 year ago
I was reading a book that I liked. I wrote a manuscript that was a little bit similar. The author thanked his agent. I went to his agent's website. She suggested that a would-be author read this book before submitting a book proposal. I did. I received a "YES" from the very first publisher I contacted! I will be forever grateful that I bought this book from Barnes and Noble.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The 3rd Edition Is a Great Resource for Non-Fiction Authors!, November 17, 2004 I have been working on the proposal for my latest non-fiction book for some time. Even though I have sold three previous business books without an agent, I feel like the topic of this book requires a top agent if the book is to sell to one of the leading New York publishers and receive the attention it requires from them. I reread my old stand-bys among books that have helped me in the past to write successful book proposals. I realized that those books are more aimed at the average non-fiction book rather than one that has the potential for a wide audience. On my fourth trip to find a book to help me with this proposal, I found the 3rd edition of How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen. That was a momentous day for me as a writer! This book made it clear how to make the case for a major publisher to take on a non-fiction book and give that book full support. In addition, the book assumes that the reader is capable of producing such a proposal and book. What a breath of fresh air that was! I found myself both informed and motivated to create a wonderful proposal. In the process, I learned some excellent tips for writing query letters to agents, preparing mini-proposals and packaging the final proposal. Although I am experienced in this area, I found Mr. Larsen's many detailed descriptions and examples of what is needed to be very helpful and stimulating. I also recommend that you visit Mr. Larsen's Web site for his literary agency where he provides excellent information for how to work with him as an agent. Even if you think you have a book with limited commercial potential, you would do well to read and apply this book. You may be able to switch your focus to create a book with much more potential as a result. Good luck with your next proposal!