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by all means, the proposal is not the place to bring up the subject of money, draw attention to the fact that you're unpublished, beg, mention copyrighting, fawn, or disclose that your mother loves the book.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 Writers 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 Writers International Network-Writers Inter-age Network. He was director of WIN-WINs annual William Saroyan Writers 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 Associations annual conference and the San Francisco Bay Area Book Festival. He was evaluated as a highest rating presenter at the California Writers 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. Writers 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/WDPs trademarked Best Half of Life series; and concise, clear, how-to books for QDB/WDPs Fast-Track Course series.