Non-Fiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write
By Elizabeth Lyon; reviewed by Gregory Tozian
Blue Heron Publishing (24450 N.W. Hansen Road, Hillsboro, Oregon 97124), 1995.
Everybody knows that would-be novelists have it pretty hard. Depending on how quickly they work, they’ve got to spend anywhere from six months to 10 years opening veins and bleeding their story out onto the page. Then they’re permitted to mail their manuscript to an agent or publisher who they can only hope will recognize their genius.
But let’s have some sympathy for wannabe non-fiction authors, too. They’ve got thankless months and years of writing to do, and they aren’t even allowed to mail a completed book out to agents or publishers. Those industry watchdogs don’t want to see non-fiction manuscripts unless they’ve first seen a very specifically formatted book proposal for the non-fiction book. And the book proposal may require as much blood, sweat and tears to write as the book itself.
Now the trauma of book proposal writing has been thankfully lessened by author and teacher Elizabeth Lyon. As a guidebook to the esoteric world of book proposal creation, Lyon’s remarkably complete and readable Non-Fiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write has no rival.
Non-Fiction Book Proposals doesn’t leave any of the confusing details of the proposal writing process to chance, as many similarly focused books have. Lyon leads the prospective non-fiction writer, literally, step-by-step from the title page to the appendix of a first-class proposal.
The author shows aspiring writers how to divide their proposals into easily digestible sections – including an author’s Concept Statement (150 words that sell the book like a book catalog advertisement), Table of Contents, Chapter Summaries, Sample Chapters, and descriptive sections on the book itself, the competition (similar titles in print), the author, the promotional aspects and the production details.
Rather than being a dry road map to proposal writing, Lyon’s book is easy to read, frequently encouraging, and filled with real-life proposal examples that are simple to understand and modify to the reader’s own book ideas.
As a first step toward winning a book contract, it’s hard to imagine better insurance than learning proposal writing Lyon’s way.
Your book may ultimately have to stand on its own in the bloody publishing arena, but armed with Lyon’s primer at least you’ve got a fighting chance in the first round.