Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Art of the Book Proposal: From Focused Idea to Finished Proposal by Eric Maisel, Ph.D.


This is the second in a series of book reviews about writing and publishing.  For the first review go here.

   Eric Maisle has written an excellent book for those of us entering into the world of writing and publishing.  Of course, a lot of us, myself included, believed that writing had simply to do with writing.  As I have become more involved in the business I have since discovered that there are many other aspects to the whole process.  Unless you’re going to self-publish, there is the business of getting an agent to represent you. 

     Getting an agent is more complicated than simply submitting your manuscript or finished book to someone you’d like to represent you to a publishing company.  One must first send a query letter and then a book proposal.  Of course there’s the whole problem of doing your homework and getting the right agent for you but that’s another topic.

      If you’re like me you had no idea what a query letter or a book proposal is or what one should look like.  While Maisel’s book touches a little upon the query letter he mainly deals with what is involved in writing a book proposal.  His book is about writing a book proposal for non fiction but there are many helpful strategies and methods for the fiction writer as well.

      I found this book to be helpful in that Mr. Maisel breaks down and methodically lists each step one takes to write a successful proposal.  In twelve chapters he defines what a nonfiction book proposal is, how to flesh out your book idea, how to title, create a credentials section, market and promote  your book (very important!) and how to create an overview, chapter summaries, sample chapter, and how to submit your proposal.  In his appendix he shares several of his own book proposals as examples of good proposals.

     I learned a lot about not only the art of writing a proposal but also how the industry works. For instance, I had no idea a publishing company would pay a year’s salary to someone for a book not even written yet!  Not that publishing companies are throwing the dollars around, but I found it interesting that apparently it's acceptable to write a proposal before you've even written the book.  Maisel explains how to do this and the consequences it has for your writing.  Also, the chapter on listing all the different ways the writer can promote their own book was especially informative. 

       Overall, this book is well-written, gives clear and creative instructions and would be a good resource for those who would like to learn how to write an effective book proposal- primarily for a non fiction book- but also for those of us writing fiction as well.

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  1. I'm also interested in the business of books - mainly on the marketing side. I don't know why.

    1. Man of la Book: Do you have a book that you want published? I have just had my final beta reader critique my book and am now getting a friend who is a computer graphic artist to format it for me. Then....into the foray!

    2. Sharon, I don't have a book that I want published.
      I don't think I have the talent.

      I would like to write the story of our family for my children to have.

    3. MOTB: My sister and I were just discussing how we don't even know our great grandparents names. We need to preserve our ancestry and backgrounds so our children know where they came from. I wish you every success with your book. You're giving your children a wonderful gift!


I welcome comments from anyone with a mutual interest in the subjects I written about.