How to Write a Book Proposal, 4th Edition

How to Write a Book Proposal, 4th Edition
by Michael Larsen
Writer’s Digest Books, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1-58297-702-7
ISBN-10: 1-58297-702-X
$19.99 paperback, 336 pages
Read an Excerpt!
Learn how to craft an irresistible opening and hook in chapter 7 of How to Write a Book Proposal, 4th Edition
Online Exclusive: Q&A With Literary Agent Michael Larsen
About the Book
Get the attention of agents and editors! How to Write a Book Proposal has been the go-to resource for getting your work published for over 25 years. With timeless advice and cutting edge updates on a changing industry, this newly revised edition is a must-have for every nonfiction book writer.
From your book’s hook, to your outline and sample chapters, to your promotional plan and author bio, veteran literary agent, Michael Larsen shows you step-by-step how to create, polish, and submit a proposal that stands out. Each section offers examples from real life proposals to guide you. In addition to clear instruction and detailed examples you’ll find:
  • strategies and skills to put together an effective promotion plan, on- and offline.
  • comprehensive information on creating a strong author platform—now more vital than ever
  • expanded information on online submissions
  • four complete sample proposals with notes detailing what works and what doesn’t 
  • a huge resources section with websites and recommended reading
  • endless tips and wisdom from Michael Larsen’s more than four decades as an agent
Build skills, gain confidence, and get your book rolling swiftly down the road to publication. With this guide you’ll have everything you need to write a powerful proposal.
About the Author
Michael Larsen co-founded Northern California’s oldest literary agency, Michael Larsen-Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents, in 1972. He is a member of AAR. Mike is the author of How to Write a Book Proposal and How to Get a Literary Agent, and with Jay Conrad Levinson and Rick Frishman, coauthor of Guerrilla Marketing for Writers: 100 Weapons for Selling Your Work. His website is
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
CHAPTER 2: McBook: The Fastest, Easiest Way to Use This Book
CHAPTER 3: What’s in It for You? Reasons to Use This Book
CHAPTER 4: Pushing Your Hot Buttons: Choosing the Right Book for You to Write
CHAPTER 5: Getting Off the Pin: The First Three Steps to Take With Your Idea
Part II: Starting Off Right: Hooks, Benefits, and Titles
CHAPTER 6: Getting Paid to Write Your Book: The Parts of an Irresistible Proposal
CHAPTER 7: Selling the Sizzle: Your Opening and Hook           
CHAPTER 8: Naming Rites: Finding the Answers You Need to Choose Your Title           
CHAPTER 9: Your Selling Handle and the Models for Your Book           
CHAPTER 10: Bennies for Readers, Royalties for You: Listing Your Book’s Benefits
CHAPTER 11: Adding Value to Your Book: Special Features           
Part III: Following the Money: Your Book’s Markets and Competition
CHAPTER 12: Following the Money: Four Kinds of Markets for Your Book           
CHAPTER 13: Sizing Up the Comps: Competing and Complementary Books           
Part IV: Reaching Readers: Your Platform and Promotion Plan
CHAPTER 14: The Base of Your Golden Triangle: Creating the Communities You Need           
CHAPTER 15: Eyes Are the Prize: Building the Platform Your Book Needs
CHAPTER 16: The Web as Synergy Machine: Building Your Online Platform           
CHAPTER 17: Laying Your Life on the Lines: Your Bio           
CHAPTER 18: Ushering Your Baby Into the World: Putting Your Promotion Plan on Paper           
CHAPTER 19: Making Your Desk Promotion Central: Your Online Campaign           
CHAPTER 20: Throwing Something in the Pot: Your Promotion Budget (Optional)
CHAPTER 21: Taking the Guesswork Out of Publishing: Fourteen Ways to Test-Market Your Book to Guarantee Its Success
Part V: Adding Ammunition: Optional Parts of Your Overview
CHAPTER 22: Using Niche Craft to Create a Career Out of Your Idea: Spin-Offs           
CHAPTER 23: Star Power: Your Foreword and Cover Quotes
CHAPTER 24: Your Call to Arms: A Mission Statement           
Part VI: Putting Meat on the Bones: Your Outline and Sample Chapter
CHAPTER 25: Chapter Choices: Finding the Best Way to Write Your Outline           
CHAPTER 26: Giving Your Outlines Structure and Heft
CHAPTER 27: No Time for Sophomores: Strategies for Outlining Six Kinds of Books           
CHAPTER 28: A Taste of the Feast: A Q&A Session About Your Sample Chapter            
Part VII: Ensuring Your Proposal Is Ready to Submit
CHAPTER 29: Making Your Proposal More Salable: The Benefits of Writing Your Manuscript First            
CHAPTER 30: Making Your Work Look as Good as It Reads: Formatting Your Proposal           
CHAPTER 31: The Breakfast of Champions: Getting Feedback on Your Proposal           
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
CHAPTER 33: Get Published or Self-Publish: Do You Need a Publisher?
CHAPTER 34: The Hook, the Book, and the Cook: Write and Send Your (E-)Query Letter           
CHAPTER 35: The First Impression: Making Your Proposal Look Like It’s Worth What You Want for It           
CHAPTER 36: DIY: The Joys of Self-Publishing
CHAPTER 37: Pushing the Envelope: How to Sell Your Book Yourself           
CHAPTER 38: Meet the Matchmaker: How an Agent Can Help You           
CHAPTER 39: Recipes for a Successful Book and the Best Publishing Experience           
Part IX: Plotting Your Future
CHAPTER 40: Starting With the End in Mind: Setting Your Personal and Professional Goals           
CHAPTER 41: From Author to Authorpreneur: The Building Blocks for Growing From Small to Big           
CHAPTER 42: Spring Is Coming: The Prologue           
Appendix A: Resource Directory           
Appendix B: Bringing in a Media Whiz: Why Hire a Publicist?           
Appendix C: Marketing Your Book With Other People’s Money: The Quest for Partners to Help You Promote Your Book           
Appendix D: Four Sample Proposals           

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