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How to Write a Book Proposal

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  358 ratings  ·  60 reviews
An updated handbook for prospective authors describes what editors are looking for in a book proposal; discusses outlines, sample chapters, and submission requirements; explains how to test-market a book idea and select the right editors and publishers for a proposal; and includes sample proposals.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Writer's Digest Books (first published April 1985)
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3.96  · 
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 ·  358 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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Jun 06, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
Either this book was written by someone who knows nothing about writing a book proposal or he is writing about completely different proposals than what I am looking for and therefore should make it more clear what types he's writing about. I say this because pretty much EVERYTHING that I read in this book was COMPLETELY different and in some ways opposite than EVERY thing that I have read in any other place. It was very strange to me. Needless to say, the rating for this book was simply for not ...more
Oct 22, 2009 rated it liked it
Spoiler alert!
After trudging through the amazing amount of work it takes to write a proposal (quite frankly I think it's more work then writing an actual book), there is a chapter on a mini-proposal and on the query letter. Thank Goodness! Otherwise, no proposal for me.
This book is an excellent resource, but it did make me consider how short my attention span actually is and that perhaps I should stick to short stories and poetry.
Lisa Tener
Oct 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the book I recommend to clients who are writing book proposals. Agents love Mike Larsen's format and it's helped my clients get 5-and 6-figure book deals, even for first time authors in this competitive market.
Daniel Roy
A very useful book, if somewhat on the terse side. I really appreciate the ground the book attempts to cover, and it's definitely a snappy, fast-paced read.

It might be too snappy, as a matter of fact. Some of the topics Mr. Larsen breezes through would probably make a book in their own right. To give you an example, he might discuss social networking on the web, and mention something along the lines of "You need to leverage your social networks to promote your book." That's absolutely true, but
Mark Speed
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reference, business
This is a really solid how-to book, and does exactly what it says on the tin. It pretty much takes you through planning your book too. I remember feeling really fired up... right until the reality of the new publishing paradigm* hit me.

I now believe most writers would be better off building a platform and publishing their work themselves. Quite honestly, most publishers would be better off too, given than 90% of books lose money! What many writers forget is that you're trying to persuade a publi
Hal Bennett
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm an author who works with other writers to help them develop and sell their books to mainstream publishers. Larsen's book has been invaluable for more than 20 years. He seems to keep it updated to answer questions about what's happening in publishing. It's an excellent book if you are serious about working with mainstream publishers. It not only tells you about the book business per se but gives detailed instructions on writing proposals that SELL. It's the first book I recommend to any new a ...more
Mar 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is written in a fairly engaging way. While occasionally it becomes a bit too superfluous in the topics it covers and general encouragement it is a much more entertaining book for it. It covers all of the topics vital to writing a proposal and formatting it, as well as providing sample proposals and resources for learning more at the back of the book. How to write a sample chapter is also covered, as is how to talk to publishers and get an agent.

It's a thorough book, and a better introd
Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
Feb 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, how-to
Helpful, eye-opening, fairly clear. First-time writers of non-fiction books may be turned off by the sheer amount of work involved in writing a solid book proposal, but remember how much competition is out there and how much work agents and publishers have before them. If you're serious about your career, anything you can do to push through to the top of the pile is worth it. But yes: writing, and selling writing, and making a career out of writing, is hard work. Very hard work. Surprise!
C.G. Fewston

How to Write a Book Proposal, 4th edition (2011) by Michael Larsen is a total of 316 pages and 2/3 of the book should be called 'How to Build Your Author Platform' and then the last 1/3 is actually more details on how to write a proposal for a nonfiction book with much of that being four lengthy proposal samples, which are helpful but reflect more the success of the platform rather than any actual design in the proposal itself--but we can get into that in a minute.

Just a quick overview before w
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How to Write a Book Proposal is a complete and comprehensive guide to the proposal writing process. Michael Larson and Jody Rein are clearly well versed in the publishing field and the writing, which is accessible, entertaining, and informative, reflects their combined expertise. The proposal writing process is outlined in thorough detail using examples that are clear and extremely helpful. In addition to providing a detailed outline of how to write a book proposal, the book also discusses topic ...more
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Equal parts practical info and you-can-do-it-ness. With short clear chapters and several lengthy examples, it actually helps the book idea and writing process by starting with the end in mind: what do you have to offer that people want to buy? The proposal is the focusing point for the entire experience. Great as a quick read and also as a detailed reference.
Pat Stanford
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've been putting off reading this because I thought it would be as exciting as watching paint dry. But I was pleasantly surprised at how the author gets right to the point, gives you meat with fluff and lists followed by more in depth sections. For the nonfiction writer, it is an essential resource for you tools section of your bookshelf.
Lori Schafer
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a fabulous guide to proposal writing, covering every step from plotting your outline to coming up with a marketing plan. The only way I think it could be improved would be if there was a full sample with everything properly formatted - sometimes I found myself going back and forth trying to piece it together.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well-informed, well-organized, engaging, step-by-step guide to writing a proposal for your nonfiction book: the document that agents use to decide whether to represent you and editors use to decide whether to offer you a publication deal.
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-writing
Stellar advice on all aspects of the nonfiction book proposal. I found the sections on marketing, resources needed to complete the book, chapter structure, and the style guide most useful. Excellent examples peppered throughout. Indispensable book for the serious nonfiction writer.
Kristi Bernard
Sep 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing

Writing a book proposal for the first time can make a writer's head explode. It's that serious. Larsen does a great job of explaining the process. Although there are a lot of pages, the book is a quick read. Writer's can use this book to make an irresistible proposal. Larsen shows you how to use models to make your book successful and helps you set literary and financial goals that will help you build a platform just to name a few.
Larsen points out how to hook a reader, how to search the market
Rena Sherwood
Scary stuff!

You have to jump through many hoops in order to get a book published. Although book sales are high, they are not high enough to keep publishers from taking on new authors – unless you happen to be a celebrity. You may be able to get a publisher’s attention if you first self-publish a book. But if you’ve never published a book before, forget it.

Depressing thought, isn’t it? But this is the central message of literary agent and author Michael Larson’s How to Write a Book Proposal, 3rd
Orlando Ferrand
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing

HOW TO WRITE A BOOK PROPOSAL by Michael Larsen, is one of those books that are necessary to have at the reach of your hand if you are serious about writing. Michael Larsen's is a textbook, and a reference manual for those who've embarked in the journey of writing and wish to make a career out of it.

The table of contents as well as the reference index, make it easier to find specific topics, carefully developed in the chapters t
Joy Rancatore
Oct 12, 2010 rated it liked it
*Note: I actually had a much older version of this book--copyright, 1985; so I imagine some of my concerns with this version are addressed in the more up-to-date ones. I don't have any money for books right now, so I'm wholly dependent upon what my library has to offer!

When I began How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen, I wasn't sure I even needed to be reading this book at this time in my book-publishing research. However, I realized by the second page of that first chapter I have a lo
Drew Patrick Smith
May 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Writers Who Can't Use the Internet
Shelves: nyc-books
Review from the PFS Book Club...

What I Liked: This book is handy for any nonfiction writer who is seriously considering trying to get published. The advice is frank and realistic, and Larsen doesn't bother to sugarcoat the fact that it's much easier to get a nonfiction book published if you already have a national platform and damned hard to get published if you don't.

The book itself is written decently well, with its greatest strength being that it's pretty much as straight-forward as you can g
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The one thing a book on this subject must have, above all else, is brevity. Michael Larsen's suitably thin volume has this and many other qualities, making it a very useful tool for the writer who seriously wishes to publish. I can't say whether it actually works or not, as I have not yet sent off a proposal based on this work. However, I have laboriously put together one proposal (for a book which missed its deadline and has become, at least for the moment, rather defunct) using this work as a ...more
May 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
Very thorough look at how to write a book proposal:

* I love the "hot tips" scattered through the book -- lots of good hints for the book proposal process.
* It's about more than just the proposal. It addresses various business-of-publishing aspects, like what's involved in promoting your book and whether you should get an agent.
* It's a fairly long book, and I felt like it could have been better-organized. I read this one just after Jeff Herman's Write the Perfect Book Proposal, which I felt ad
Apr 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had a very conversation tone, which I enjoyed, and they super-simplified the process they were describing so that it didn't feel as daunting to tackle. There were plenty of examples, anecdotes, and samples for readers to follow along with.

This book is more useful for non-fiction writers, however; a lot of the advice it offers was difficult to translate to creative writing proposals or simply didn't connect or resonate with me. I definitely recommend it for nonfiction writers, but ficti
Cleffairy Cleffairy
May 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Review published at: Over A Cuppa Tea

‘How to Write A Book Proposal’ by Micheal Larson is a classic guidebook on how to write an effective proposal for your book so that it will be published by publishers.

As an aspiring author, I found that this book is rather useful though I already knew most of the things mentioned in the book.

The book is rather thick in my opinion, and I think some of the things ought to be ommitted from the book. But then again, it’s still a good reference book and I rate thi
Tyshawn Knight
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I recommend this book to self-publishers as well as authors who want to publish traditionally because it helps you to think about your marketing plan and it explains what marketing a book is all about. You may self-publish and then have a traditional publisher look at your book. If that is the case you will want to understand the information found in this book. If you plan to become a literary agent I would also say buy this book because you may write proposals or refer the authors you represent ...more
Leslie Raddatz
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has alot of information on how to write a book proposal including examples of good ones that had results.

How to identify target markets

What are your goals to self publish vs traditional publishing

How to promote your book

The importance in building platforms such as facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

Shares common mistakes authors make

How to develope a media kit

Nine ways to fid the agent you need.

Also gives you a directory of resources you can use.

It helped me alot with self publishing my
Kate Scott
Jul 05, 2011 rated it liked it
How to Write a Book Proposal is a comprehensive how-to guide filled with lists, bullet points, dos and don’ts, hot tips, and sample proposals that will help writers create a winning proposal. The information in this book is organized well for the most part and presented in a way that the layperson can easily understand and apply.

Continue reading this review here:
Steve Goodyear
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is pure gold for anyone thinking about writing a book proposal. Written by a publisher, he provides tons of inside tips on what publishers are looking for and how to put your best foot forward in your proposal. He also helps lead you to refine your idea so you have the best product ready to pitch to a publisher. He writes straightforward, getting to the point quickly, allowing for a quick read and easy reference later.
May 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I gave this book five stars, but just to be clear, that doesn't mean it's a must read for everybody. If you never plan to write a book proposal, well, why would you want to read this book?

But, if you are trying to craft a book proposal, I can't imagine a better resource.

It's well-written, thorough, humorous at times (a nice bonus), and most of all, informative. Littered with relevant examples, and complete with sample proposals, the book is helpful from beginning to end.
Chrystal Mahan
May 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
It was a pretty easy read. I can't sit and read all night like I used to. Long hours at the computer prevent me from doing that. It took me two nights to read this, a few hours each night.

The book is centered on keeping things short and to the point. Not only should this theme be used in your proposal but it was used in the writing of Larsen's book as well. That's my kind of informational, how-to, book!
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