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How to Write a Book Proposal Paperback – February, 2004

50 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 003-5313109027 ISBN-10: 1582972516 Edition: Third Edition

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael Larsen is co-owner of the Michael Larsen/Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agency, which has been representing top fiction and nonfiction authors since 1972. He is the co-author of Guerrilla Marketing for Writers. Larsen frequently speaks at the country’s top writers conferences. He lives in San Francisco, California.

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Product Details

  • Series: How to Write a Book Proposal
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; Third Edition edition (February 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582972516
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582972510
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #886,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

296 of 308 people found the following review helpful By Thomas D. Kehoe on April 7, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought five books to help me write a book proposal:

"How to Write a Book Proposal, 3rd edition," by Michael Larsen

"78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published & 14 Reasons Why It Just Might," by Pat Walsh

"The Forest for the Trees," by Betsy Lerner

"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Published, 4th edition," by Sheree Bykofsky and Jennifer Basye Sander

"Think Like Your Editor," by Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunado

The worst was "How to Write a Book Proposal." This book felt like a bad date, like I wanted to wash my hair after reading it. The intent is to teach you to be an "Authorpreneur (r)." Yes, Larsen has registered this word. You'll learn such gems as everyone has 250 friends, and each of them has 250 friends, so you can "spread the word" about your book to more than 62,000 people by e-mail. I think there's a word for that -- spam. Larsen also says to include your promotion plan in the book proposal, including pushing "the paperback edition as hard as you can" when it's published a year after the hardcover edition. I'm not an agent or editor, but I'd think that an agent would giggle quietly to themselves if you were so presumptuous as to include a marketing plan for the paperback edition. (To the author's credit, he doesn't say you should suggest which actor should play the main character in the movie version of your book.) Then there's the chapter about including illustrations and cover art. Excuse me, I thought the editor and art director develop the cover art? I can't imagine creating the book cover to include in the proposal. And the author recommends including a "surprise," such as a baby shoe with a note saying "Now that I have a foot in the door." The book has one good piece of advice: pick a good title.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Carol on February 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
I am a nonfiction writer, and I've had three books published so far. I used this book to write my very first proposal, and I sold that book. I used it to write my second proposal, and I sold that book, too. I've recommended it to so many other writers that I thought I would finally write a review. When I knew absolutely nothing about the publishing world, when I didn't know how to start a proposal or what to expect from the publishing industry, this book made me feel as though I had a personal friend walking me through the process. This is a tough but wonderful business, and I feel privileged to be able to write full time. I don't think I would be doing this today if I didn't start with this book. My advice for anyone who wants to write is to work diligently, read constantly, and write the best proposal you can. A potentially fabulous book won't ever sell if the proposal is less than spectacular. Read this book, and every other book on proposal writing, then get to work. Best of luck!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jack Zavada on August 12, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With the New York book publishing world shrinking down to a handful of huge conglomerates, selling a proposal is tougher than ever. Everything is the "bottom line," and if you don't accept that truth, you're wasting your time.

Michael Larsen knows what he's talking about. A literary agent for over 30 years, he has firsthand knowledge of what editors want and what will sell. He shares all of that knowledge in How to Write a Book Proposal.

Larsen covers every aspect of writing a winning proposal in step-by-step detail. Follow his advice and you'll give agents and editors a proposal they'll take seriously.

The only criticism I have of this book is that you may be discouraged if you don't have a national platform (loyal fans). That seems to be a requirement of the big NY houses today. However, the medium-sized publishers and university presses won't be as demanding on this point. Their advances may not be as high, but it's still every bit as worthwhile having your book published by them. Keep that in mind as you read this.

After you read How to Write a Book Proposal, you may decide you want to self-publish instead. But this book will give you all the facts to help you decide which route is best for you.

How to Write a Book Proposal applies to nonfiction only. This is rock-solid, proven wisdom on how to get the attention of agents, editors and publishers. If you want to submit a salable package, heed Michael Larsen's guidance and give yourself an edge.

Jack Zavada

published writer
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Larry A. Whited on April 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
How to Write a Book Proposal is not all bad--I highlighted many sentences, and I did pick up some good tips. However, I felt like I was touring the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose--that 160-room mansion comprised of endless additions and oddities because the heiress compulsively felt that she had to keep the construction continuing. The book is in fact the 3rd edition, but some extra editing would have helped rather than just multiplying pet entries.

Larsen might be able to write an irresistible proposal for himself, but he hasn't written an irresistible book. I wearied in reading countless times that I would have to have a marketing plan that would sweep the publisher off his or her feet, that I would have to obtain quotes and recommendations from famous people, and that I would have to promote endlessly on tours across the nation. Perhaps these are essential to getting published, but then I am left scratching my head in wonder as I look at all the mediocre material on the booksellers' shelves. Lots of people seem to have slipped through. And when I read his sample gems, I quickly grew bored.

The main problem that I had with the book was that it felt like a hodgepodge of ideas that kept overlapping each other. I am a person who appreciates good organization and order. This book left me feeling that I would have to edit it first to then be able to use it.

If you are a new (promising) writer prone to discouragement, I would not read this book. However, if you think writing would be a neat whim and easy, then you should read this book. You will throw up your hands in despair and save yourself and the publisher who might have to look at your material a lot of wasted effort.
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