By William Cane
Book Proposals: What Should My Book Proposal Contain? Maybe you've heard that a book proposal is the most professional way to present your nonfiction book idea. (It is.) Maybe you've wondered how to write a book proposal and what to include. (This Web site will tell you.) Should you write the entire book or just a proposal? If you have the entire book written, do you still need a proposal? Will agents and publishers want to see a proposal or a finished manuscript? If you do have a book proposal, what's the next step, who do you approach with the proposal? Do you send it to publishers, editors, literary agents? These are all legitimate questions. In fact, I had all these questions in mind when I was working on my first book, The Art of Kissing. Because the subject of book proposals is complex, it's only natural to have questions about it when you're starting out on the path to becoming a published author.
Some writers naturally wonder whether they might not be better off just writing the entire book and trying to sell that. After all, a proposal takes time and what you say in a proposal may be different from the finished manuscript when it's finally completed. So isn't it better to simply write the entire book? These questions are faced by nonfiction writers all the time. In fact, D.H. Lawrence faced some of the same questions during his career since he wrote both fiction and nonfiction. All these questions are answered on this Web site. (D.H. Lawrence and Frieda, Chapala, Mexico, 1923. D.H. Lawrence Collection.)
A good book proposal includes the following sections.