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Turner Publishing Company
Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why / Edition 2

Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why / Edition 2

by Jeff Herman
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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 nearly 1,000 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 to the bestselling guide, 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 (updated and included here) were successfully sold to publishers—and why

* How to capitalize on the evolving publishing industry, including e-books and social media

"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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 2900471353125
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 05/01/2001
Edition description: Second Edition
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 7.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Jeff Herman founded The Jeff Herman Literary Agency 30 years ago and has ushered nearly 1,000 books into print which have sold millions of copies. He is author of Jeff Herman’s Guide to Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents and has been profiled in Success, Entrepreneur, and Publishers Weekly. Herman cofounded the website WRITERS-AGENTS-EDITORS NETWORK (, the go-to digital community for millions of writers and media professionals. His website is

Deborah Levine Herman is an attorney, a literary agent, a writer, and a proficient “proposal doctor.” Jeff and Deborah reside in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

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.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Third Edition



SECTION ONE: All Aspects of the Proposal—And Some Advice Thrown In

CHAPTER 1 The Concept: Shaping Your Idea

CHAPTER 2 The Title: Creating an Image

CHAPTER 3 The Overview: Writing Power Paragraphs

CHAPTER 4 The Markets Section: Who Will Buy Your Book?

CHAPTER 5 The Competition Section: What Else Is Out There?

CHAPTER 6 The Promotion Section: What Can You Do to Help Your Book Sell?

CHAPTER 7 The Author Background Section: Presenting Yourself in Your Best Light

CHAPTER 8 The Outline: Getting It Organized and Making It Persuade

CHAPTER 9 The Sample Chapter: Proving You Can Do the Job

CHAPTER 10 What About Fiction? The Art and Science of Selling Fiction

CHAPTER 11 Writing Memoir and Narrative Nonfiction

CHAPTER 12 Query Letters, Submissions, and Sage Advice

SECTION TWO: 10 Proposals That Sold—And Why

PROPOSAL 1 10 Habits of Naturally Slim People … And How to Make Them Part of Your Life by Jill H. Podjasek, M.S., R.N., with Jennifer Carney

PROPOSAL 2 How to Get Clients: An Easy and Practical Program to Build Your Business by Jeff Slutsky with Marc Slutsky

PROPOSAL 3 Black Roots: A Beginner’s Guide to Tracing the Family Tree by Tony Burroughs

PROPOSAL 4 How Saturn Reinvented the Customer Loyalty Wheel: “No Hassle” Steps ANY Business Can Use! by Vicki Lenz

PROPOSAL 5 The Creativity Toolbox by Jordan E. Ayan

PROPOSAL 6 In the Beginning … A Keepsake Record of Before-Birth Memories Written and Illustrated by “Julie Karen” Julie K Andres

PROPOSAL 7 Trust Your Guts! Develop Your Business Intuition and Win—Consistently by Richard M. Contino, Esq.

PROPOSAL 8 Workstyles to Fit Your Lifestyle: The Hands-on Guide to Temporary Employment by John Fanning and Rosemary Maniscalco

PROPOSAL 9 Heart and Soul: A Psychological and Spiritual Guide to Preventing and Healing Heart Disease by Bruno Cortis, M.D.

PROPOSAL 10 Taxes Made Easy for Home-Based Businesses: The Complete Plain Language Tax Guide for Home-Based Entrepreneurs and Home-Office Workers by Gary W. Carter, Ph.D., M.T., C.P.A.




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Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
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