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Writing a Book Proposal

Anytime I come acrss a How-To book in the library or at the bookstore I immediately run the opposite direction. Not that How To books don't have their place in the myriad of other categories, but they tend to be about as enjoyable as watching paint dry. Yet, Michael Larsen's ever so popular book How To Write a Book Proposal was a enjoyable and informative read that will be useful for a long time. First, the layout was easily accesible for the reader who is getting interested in the book writing world (27 chapters with 208 pages + appendices and index). What caught my eye initially was the digestibility of the book? Each chapter is packed with key focus points on how to write a book proposal but also gets the reader to think about how a proposal sounds, looks, and grabs the attention of anyone interested in publishing the book. In the opening chapter, Larsen writes that there are two fundamental questions you must ask your proposal: Why this book? Why you? (8). The first questions relates to marketability and what makes this book stand out in the midst of much competition. The next question relates what you bring to the table of conversation regarding the subject matter, experience and aim of the book.

The chapter on the title of your book is very good at getting to the heart of bringing a reader into the book. A good book proposal provides the necessary pull about the subject matter of the book but more importantly pulls the reader's heartstrings into being grabbed by the book emotionally (15-17). Larsen also hits upon the idea that certain words and phrases are more likely to sell in one's title for a book. Great descriptive language and superlatives usually help people feel that the book they are holding bears inside important and vital info.

The rest of the books solid features encompass an author's bio, outlines in general and detail form, literary agents, sample chapters, etc. One of the standout features that I found in reading this book was the necessity of providing a hook for the readers to grab them into reading and buying the book. From the outline to the sample chapters, from the title to the marketing, materializing language that is catchy, enticing, but also readable to the common person is a great way to make your book salable. I found the chapter on agents to be very informative because I was unaware just how important it can be to make connections in the world of publishing. Sometimes hopeful authors get stunted at the beginning of the process because they don't know who to talk to and are not given a voice when they do talk. Literary agents provide a direct link to the publishing houses which in turn are able to make a decision about a manuscript. It is kind of like you've got the soccer ball on the opposing team's goal box when you have a literary agent in your corner.

Overall, I thought his book was very informative, well-written, and not as dull and boring as I thought when I read the title. This book would be great for aspiring authors, those learning the business side of publishing and everyone in between.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the complimentary review copy.


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