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The Fast Track Course on How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal Paperback – April 4, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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by all means, the proposal is not the place to bring up the subject of money, draw attention to the fact that you're unpublished, beg, mention copyrighting, fawn, or disclose that your mother loves the book.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

About the Author

Stephen Blake Mettee is president and publisher, Quill Driver Books/Word Dancer Press, Inc., a California-based publisher of nonfiction books. Mettee is the editor of The Portable Writers’ Conference: Your Guide to Getting and Staying Published, a Writer’s Digest Book Club selection, and has published scads of nonfiction articles on subjects ranging from parenting to business. He is currently working on a book on nonprofit fund-raising for the amateur. Mettee serves on the board of directors of Writer’s International Network-Writer’s Inter-age Network. He was director of WIN-WIN’s annual William Saroyan Writer’s Conference from 1992 to 1997 and continues as chair of the conference. Mettee has taught classes on writing and publishing in a number of venues including the University of California, Davis extension program, the California Library Association’s annual conference and the San Francisco Bay Area Book Festival. He was evaluated as a “highest rating” presenter at the California Writer’s Club Asilomar conference. QDB/WDP is recognized by industry periodical Book Marketing Update as one of the “Top 101 Independent Book Publishers” in the United States. Writer’s Digest magazine identifies QDB/WDP as one of the “100 Best Book Markets for New Writers.” Mettee is always in the market for nonfiction books, particularly California regional titles; writing titles; practical, upbeat encouraging works that enhance the lives of people over 50, for QDB/WDP’s trademarked Best Half of Life series; and concise, clear, how-to books for QDB/WDP’s Fast-Track Course series.
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Product Details

  • Series: Fast-Track
  • Paperback: 100 pages
  • Publisher: Linden Publishing (April 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 188495622X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1884956225
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,078,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Blake Mettee is the founder of Quill Driver Books and The Write Thought.

During his fifteen years at the helm of Quill Driver Books, Mettee shepherded two titles into Book-of-the-Month Club selections and one onto the New York Times bestseller list. Foreign rights to QDB titles have been sold in a score of countries. One title was cited in a Supreme Court decision.

Authors published during his tenure include Irving Stone, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, and America's most popular medical columnist Peter H. Gott, M.D., as well as many first-time authors.

QDB has been recognized by industry periodical Book Marketing Update as one of the "Top 101 Independent Book Publishers" in the United States and by Writer's Digest as one the 100 most new-writer friendly book publishers in the U.S.

Every chance he gets Mettee immodestly points out that this is quite a list of accomplishments for an independent house.

The Write Thought publishes a digital book series that revives a number of the best out-of-print books on writing and publishing (The Classic Wisdom on Writing series) as well as books in a host of other genres.

In 2012, The Write Thought launched a unique book publishing venture which gives selected literary agents and editors their own imprint. This expands The Write Thought's reach into fiction as well as nonfiction.

Mettee serves as chair of the board of directors of The Independent Book Publisher's Association the nation's largest book publishing association and the leading advocate for independent presses.

He regularly presents on writing and publishing nationally and internationally.

Mettee has published scads of nonfiction articles on subjects ranging from parenting to business including a chapter in the 2004 Writer's Market.

He has content edited (or rewritten, as the case may be) more than 150 books, is the author of The Fast-Track Course on How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal--now in its second edition--and the editor of The Portable Writers' Conference: Your Guide to Getting and Staying Published and The American Directory of Writer's Guidelines. All are Writers Digest Book Club selections.

The Fast-Track Course on How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal has been adopted for use in a number of university publishing courses.

He is currently working on two diet books: The Sexy Beast Diet for men and The Sexy Bitch Diet for women as well as a novel set in the first century.

Mettee is always in the market for exceptional fiction and nonfiction manuscripts in nearly any genre. You can reach him at Mettee@TheWriteThought.com.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Experienced seminar leader on October 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
I have taught an adult education course called "So You Want to Write a Book" throughout New England since 1988 and have also worked one-on-one with more than 100 authors on their book proposals over the years. Originally I recommended Michael Larsen's book on how to write a book proposal, because it was the only such in-depth book available. However, I did not like certain things in his sample proposal and did not agree with some of his advice. When Elizabeth Lyon's book, Nonfiction Book Proposals Anyone Can Write, came out, I began recommending that enthusiastically because she takes the reader step by step through the process of writing the book proposal, and I thought her advice was better founded. Having looked at Stephen Mettee's book, I will now recommend his book to prospective authors who don't need the depth and handholding that Lyon provides. As you would want in any book on writing, it is highly readable, well-organized and to the point.
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61 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Bert Krages on February 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
I am an attorney and literary agent so I make it a point to read books on how to prepare proposals. This is one of the shorter books on how to write a book proposal but the advice is very sound. Following the guidance in the book should result in an excellent proposal. One thing that distinguishes this book from most others on the subject is that it is written from a publishers perspective. If you are interested in writing a serious proposal,it would not be a bad idea to read more than one book on the topic since a proposal that looks professional and provides the information an editor considers necessary will garner extra attention.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Harold McFarland HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
A query letter and book proposal is the best place to start when considering writing a nonfiction book. Using the query letter and book proposal you can locate a publisher interested in printing your book before you spend all that time writing it. The purpose of a proposal is to give a very busy editor enough information to determine if they have an interest in the book and to have at least a basic level of confidence in you as an author.
In his book Mettee gives many detailed examples of what should be included in the proposal and well as example proposals and queries. In addition he covers contracts, agents, royalties and other factors that you will need to understand. Finally, he includes the very important information of what should not be in the proposal.
In "How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal" you receive a complete guide to writing a professional proposal that greatly increases the chances of getting your book published. A highly recommended read and a required read for any new nonfiction writer.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By a reader on December 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
I have never written a book before. I did have an idea for one though. I bought this book before approaching any publisher. I am very glad I did.

It forced me to focus on the things most important to an acquisitions editor: among other things, the scale of the potential audience, the book's "high concept", competing books, the credentials of myself and my co-author, and things we could do to help market the book.

Having thought about these things, in some cases doing further research, I then sent a "cold call" email to an editor at one of the world's biggest English language publishers in my field (finance). I distilled the aforementioned elements into a pithy, 1-page "pre-pitch", and asked to know whether the publisher would actively welcome a formal proposal - usually, as the author describes, a very long document.

To make a long story short, I got a meeting with the editor last week. I turned my "pre-pitch" into a slightly padded-out though still short PowerPoint presentation. At the end I asked the editor again, would she actively welcome a proper proposal. She said, essentially, "You've already done the formal proposal. We are enthusiastic about the idea. You've covered everything we need to know, except of course whether you can actually write this sort of book. Get us a sample chapter and detailed table of contents in two months; if they are as good as we think they will be, we'll make you an offer."

Wow - this from my first enquiry. I came across not only as a competent specialist in my field, but as commercial-savvy partner material for a major for-profit publisher. And all I'd done was follow the author's very clear advice, gleaned in an afternoon reading his lean, quite accessible guide. If I can, you can. If you think you have a winning idea for a nonfiction book, buy this one. It would be a great investment even if it cost 10 times more!

UPDATE July 2009: the book contract was signed!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By W. Terry Whalin on May 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
This short book goes to the heart of creating a book proposal. It includes information not easily available in other books such as a sample agreement from a literary agency, a sample book contract and detailed information about the shape of a query letter. As Mettee says, "The job of a query letter is to get an editor or agent to ask to see your full proposal." As an acquisitions editor, I know firsthand that too few writers invest enough energy into the query letter process.

In many regards, this book is an adequate introduction to the topic of book proposals. For other writers, it will leave you needing more detailed information than contained on these pages. From my perspective, it's important to study every single available resource on this topic. I recommend this book.
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