2009 Article Excerpt: Nonfiction Book Proposals

Author:
Publish date:

I have officially wrapped up all editing on the 2009 Guide to Literary Agents. It's over. Finally. Done. (I. Love. Using. Periods.) To celebrate, I thought I'd post excerpts from the forthcoming upfront articles.

Image placeholder title

2009 Article Excerpt:

Agent Mollie Glick of Foundry
Literary + Media
 talks
about nonfiction book proposals.


"...There are lots of ways to think about book proposals. Some agents, like Jean Naggar, president of The Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, think of proposals as a blueprint for what the finished book is going to look like. Other agents, like Richard Morris of Janklow & Nesbit think of it as an author's first chance to show off his/her unique narrative voice. In this tough market—a market in which editors are looking for reasons to reject projects rather than reasons to accept them—I think of proposals as an argument for why an editor can’t afford not to take a book on. Any way you look at it, a book proposal is your first chance to prove that you’ve got all of the elements needed to spin your raw idea into a literary goldmine.
So what exactly are the essential elements that publishers and agents are looking for when they read your proposal? Five Things:
1. An original idea. What fresh, original and engaging idea will your book present?
2. But not too original. What published books share the same audience as your book? Why were those books successful, and why will your book appeal to the same readers?
3. A clear sense of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there. What’s the scope of your book? How are you going to set about gathering and presenting your information?
4. Why is this an important book? How is your book different (and better than) other similar books? Why is now the time to publish a book on your chosen subject?
5. Why are you the go-to-guy (or gal) to write a book on this subject? You may have heard the word “platform” floating around and wondered what it means. Put simply, there are two kinds of platforms, and ideally you want to demonstrate that you’ve got both. First: What makes you an expert and the clear choice to write the book you’re proposing? Second: What media connections do you have that will help you reach your intended audience with your message?..."

- "Book Proposals: Five Elements of a Nonfiction Proposal" (page 41)

While Guide to Literary Agents is best known for its large and detailed list of literary agencies, every edition has plenty of informational articles and interviews designed to help writers perfect their craft and contact agents wisely. The 2009 edition is no different, with more than 80 pages of articles addressing numerous writing and publishing topics.

Writer's Digest May/June 2021 Cover Reveal

Writer's Digest May/June 2021 Cover Reveal

Presenting the May/June 2021 issue of Writer's Digest featuring a collection of articles about how curiosity fuels writers, including the 23rd Annual 101 Best Websites for Writers and a new interview with Chris Bohjalian.

Through Another’s Eyes: An Auschwitz Survivor Inspires His Biographer

Through Another’s Eyes: An Auschwitz Survivor Inspires His Biographer

Popular lecturer and biographer Joshua M. Greene discusses the hardship of writing the biographies of Holocaust survivors, and the biography that convinced him to continue writing.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: The May/June 2021 Issue, a Chance at Publication, and more!

This week, we’re excited to announce that the May/June 2021 “Curiosity” issue is now live in the WD shop, there’s still time to have your From Our Reader’s response selected for publication in the July/August 2021 “Bravery” issue, and more!

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 18

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write an ekphrastic poem.

Personal Essay Awards

Announcing the First Annual Personal Essay Awards Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the first annual Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards!

From Script

Movie Theatres Return While Indie Cinema and TV Turns to Horror and Beyond (From Script)

In this week’s round-up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, read movie reviews from cinephile Tom Stemple. Plus, exclusive interviews with Amazon’s Them creator and showrunner Little Marvin, horror film Jakob’s Wife director Travis Stevens, a history lesson with Dr. Rosanne Welch about trailblazer screenwriter Anita Loos, and much more!

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 17

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a waiting poem.

GettyImages-119430542

Your Story #112

Write the opening line to a story based on the photo prompt below. (One sentence only.) You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

Self-Published Ebook Awards

Announcing the 8th Annual Self-Published E-book Awards Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 8th Annual Self-Published E-book Awards! Discover the titles that placed in the categories of contemporary fiction, fantasy, memoir, mystery, and more.