The Nonfiction Proposal: Or Rebooting My Agent Search

At this point all of my agent queries are dead in the water.  I’m going to have to wait until I finish the book that I’m working on before I can get any more queries out there.

No, I’m not procrastinating.  The first batch of agents didn’t want proposals.  They just wanted a query letter and X number of pages.  I was kind of surprised since I thought most agents want proposals but I wasn’t going to argue.  After all, I had rewritten the manuscript for an editor who wanted to see it.

Apparently, wanting a proposal is still the norm at least for about 2/3 of the agents I’ve researched.  It is apparently just a coincidence that none of these agents were in batch 1.  So what goes into a proposal?

Overview: This section includes the specs (title, word count and hook), short description of the subject, target market (reader age range), and why the book is necessary.

Markets:  Who will buy your book. Include stats. My current book deals with a STEM topic so I will mention that.

Promotion:  How to get your book into the hands of those would-be readers.

Competing Books:  Other books on your topic published in the last 5 years.  How does your book differ?

About the Author:  Why are you the ideal author for this book?  

Outline: List your chapters and summarize each.  In my Abdo outlines, a chapter is 12 lines max.

Sample Chapters: What I’ve seen listed most often is 3 chapters of the finished book. 

The entirely may be 15 or more pages long but the bulk of that consists of the outline and the sample chapters.  The rest should be detailed but fairly brief. For a more detailed look at what goes into a proposal, see my post from yesterday on the Muffin.

Don’t let a missing proposal keep you from sending out your work!