Write a Successful Book Proposal
Instructor: Patricia Fry
|You choose when to start!
|All writers who are passionate about publishing a book.
|Student must at least have a book idea in mind. This is also a valuable course for those with a book in progress or who have completed a book manuscript.
Are you still trying to figure out what a Book Proposal is? Perhaps publishers have asked you for one, but you don't know where to start or how to proceed. Here's your opportunity to learn how to write a successful book proposal now and in the future. Yes, Fry will teach you a formula that you can use for any book you plan.
The book proposal does more than communicate your intentions to a potential publisher. A well designed proposal is an excellent marketing tool. It gives a publisher the information he/she needs in order to evaluate you and your entire project. But it also makes your life easier because you can use your proposal as a guide to writing your book. Probably the most valuable aspect of writing a book proposal is that during the process, you'll find out if you truly have a worthwhile book at all. Likewise, the marketing component in your proposal will aid you in your promotional efforts once the book is completed.
While our focus will be on the more detailed nonfiction book proposal, students with novels and other fiction manuscripts will also learn how to prepare a book proposal for their projects.
We'll discuss what a Book Proposal is and what it is expected to accomplish. We'll talk about the parts of a nonfiction proposal and the proposal for a novel. I'll also talk about the Cover Letter and Title Page. I'll ask students to communicate with me their book ideas so I can address their specific needs in future lectures and I'll ask them to be thinking about the publisher(s) they want to approach with their proposal. Book proposals sometimes need tweaking from publisher to publisher.
Students will be asked to find at least one potential publisher and to write a Cover Letter and Title Page. The instructor will provide examples of cover letters and title pages.
The Synopsis is the meat of a book proposal. I'll describe a Synopsis or Overview and provide some examples. Students will be asked to write a Synopsis for their project. I will also encourage students to describe their book in one brief sentence and I'll tell them why this is important. We'll discuss the enhancements portion of a book proposal—a section I include in some of my proposals. What can you add to your proposal that's different and appealing to the reader, thus the publisher? I expect this session to inspire a lot of creative juices. Most students will now feel as though they have some control over the once elusive concept of a book proposal.
The promotional element is probably the second—and in some cases, the first—most important part of a book proposal. Why? Publishers want to know that you understand who your audience is and how you plan to locate and approach them. They also need to know that you are willing to participate in promoting your book. Publishers have been known to accept or reject a manuscript based on the author's promotional plan. I'll guide each student in creating a dynamite, yet realistic promotional component to his/her successful book proposal.
This is where we'll talk about the Market Analysis or Comparison of Competitive Works. This will require that the students do some research to discover what books compete with theirs, how their book is different, what makes their book stand out, etc. This will be another powerful session. I've had students change the whole focus of their books during this session. Better to find out that you're on the wrong track BEFORE you finish writing the book, right? The instructor will provide guidelines for conducting the necessary research as well as samples of successful Comparisons of Competitive Works.
Here we will discuss the "About the Author" section. I hope to help authors realize their worth and to be able to state their qualifications, experience and credits with eloquence, honesty and professionalism. Samples will be available.
The final session is devoted to the Chapter Outline. The publisher definitely wants to see this as part of the package and, if you provide it, you've come a long way toward writing your book. I'll help students create a Chapter Outline which means organizing their book chapter by chapter. We'll also put the finishing touches on the book proposal—make sure it is tidy and complete. I'll encourage students to begin distributing theirs to appropriate publishers. Sample outlines are available.
Testimonials from former students:
"I received an email from Houghton Mifflin today. They are interested in my book. I am ecstatic. This is a HUGE step for me. And you have prepared me for it so well. They have received only my synopsis and sample chapters and now they want the rest. Thanks to your class, the rest is ready to go."
"This course was wonderful for me. It was exactly what I needed—a hands-on book proposal course. I made a major breakthrough on my proposal during the course and the proposal I developed has already received positive feedback from an editor. I would recommend this course to anyone, especially those who are in the process of writing a nonfiction book."
"The first agent I contacted looked at my proposal and accepted it. Your assistance on the proposal, no doubt, proved to be invaluable and I am completely grateful. I cannot thank you enough. Your support and feedback made a huge difference."
"Patricia Fry taught a terrific book proposal class. It clarified how to create and polish all the necessary components of a proposal. She was consistently dedicated and helpful, always attentive to my writing needs. I am far more confident that, with Patricia's good advice, the book will become a reality."