52 books in 52 weeks: The Literary Agent’s Guide to Writing a Non-Fiction Book Proposal

I set myself the goal of reading and reviewing 52 writing guides over the year. Here is book 18.

The Literary Agent’s Guide to Writing a Non-Fiction Book Proposal by Andy Ross does exactly what it says on the cover.

An American book, written by an American literary agent for the American market means that it’s very thorough, and possibly goes a little more deeply than our UK markets require. Nevertheless, I like to start with the way the Americans do it because, well, they do it so well.

The author is an agent and a former bookseller. He ran his own book shop for 30 years and started his literary agency in 2008. Therefore it’s odds-on he knows what he’s talking about.

There are no exercises, just good, honest advice. I devoured the book in just under 2 hours. Contents include things like:

  • the query letter
  • finding an agent
  • what is platform
  • the mind of the acquisition editor
  • what happens when I get an advance?
  • the structure of the book proposal

… and many others.

The sections I found particularly useful were the elements of the book deal and a word about the advance.

My only niggle was that the contents in the Kindle version aren’t hot-linked to the individual chapters. But apart from that, this is a very useful book for anyone who wants to know why we need to write book proposals in the first place, and a good recap on how to write one for those of us who already have in the past.

The Literary Agent’s Guide to Writing a Non-Fiction Book Proposal is available in paperback for £8.25 ($8.95) and on Kindle for £2.92 ($3.72). It’s also available on Smashwords.

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