Wrangling and Writing a Book Proposal


Join The New York Times Senior News Assistant Kenneth R. Rosen for this practical nuts-and-bolts course on writing the book proposal that will get your book in the door to publication.





The idea you have feels bigger than a magazine or newspaper article. It feels like a book.

But do you write the book first? Or do you find a publisher to back you?

What is a book proposal?

According to the venerable Jane Friedman, “a book proposal argues why your book (idea) is a salable, marketable product. It acts as a business case or business plan for your book that persuades a publisher to make an investment. Instead of writing the entire book, then trying to interest an editor or agent (which is how it works with novels), you write the proposal first. If a publisher is convinced by your argument, it contracts you and pay you to write the book.

If properly developed and researched, a proposal can take weeks or longer to write. While proposal length varies tremendously, most are somewhere around 10 to 25 pages double-spaced, not including sample chapters. It’s not out of the question for a proposal to reach 50 pages or more for complex projects once sample materials are included.”

Nonfiction manuscripts that are not memoirs begin as proposals before growing into book projects. Moving from how to structure your proposal, to the meaty chapter outline and excerpts, and to best-practice techniques for submitting to agents and publishers, this workshop will tackle the beastly (and often prosperous) animal that is the first steps to publishing your nonfiction book.

Come prepared to discuss your idea for a book and three books that are similar to the one you would like to write.


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