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The Fast Track Course on How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal

Mettee, Stephen Blake

Quill Driver Books
Published:September, 2001

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According to Stephen Mettee, a book proposal, like a woman's skirt, should be "short enough to be interesting, but long enough to cover the subject." The same could be said for a book about writing such a proposal. Mettee's Fast-Track Course on How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal, checks in at a mere 113 pages. A book proposal is a 10-page to 50-page document consisting of a synopsis, a table of contents, a chapter-by-chapter outline, a few sample chapters, and supporting material. Mettee provides simple descriptions of each, as well as a sample query letter, a book proposal, and a contract, and he includes cartoons reprinted from The New Yorker. Since Mettee's a publisher himself (at Quill Driver Books), one feels confident following his lead when he recommends sending the proposal along with the query (giving the editor one less chance to say "no") and making multiple submissions (even to publishers that claim not to accept them). But by all means, the proposal is not the place to bring up the subject of money, draw attention to the fact that you're unpublished, beg, mention copyrighting, fawn, or disclose that your mother loves the book. --Jane Steinberg

Product Description:
The hard, cold fact about getting a book published is that without something close to divine intervention an author is going to have to write a sales piece, called a book proposal, that will attract the attention of an editor or an agent. In fact, at most publishers, this sales piece is going to have to hold up under the scrutiny of a committee made up of a bevy of editors and a pod of sales and marketing people. With The Fast-Track Course on How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal, Mettee, a seasoned book editor and publisher, cuts to the chase and provides simple, detailed instruction that allows anyone to write a professional book proposal and hear an editor say Yes! According to Mettee, the first rule is: Do no harm. Too many authors don't pay enough attention to the small things like spelling and grammar and manuscript format that are needed to make their book proposals appear professional. They may have a great idea for a book and be eminently qualified to write it but they schmuck it up with slovenly disregard for the easy stuff. The last rule is: Be persistent. If you quit after your first rejection slip or after the thirteenth or the thirtieth, you'll never get published. Many books that are rejected scores of times go on to be best-sellers. You're not defeated until you give up.

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