A review of How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal by Stephen Blake Mettee

If you want to put together a nonfiction book proposal, this is as clear and focused a guide as you could hope to find. Mettee cuts straight to the chase and provides a very easy to follow, no nonsense guide which will become a reference classic. 

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

The Fast Track Course on How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal
By Stephen Blake Mettee
Quill Driver Books
usd$12.95, trade paperback, 128 pages
ISBN 1-884956-22-X
www.QuillDriverBooks.com or Ph: 1-800-497-4909

Send your proposal first! That is the most critical piece of information – the first axiom for potential nonfiction writers. If you aren’t a nonfiction author perhaps you should consider it. Nonfiction book guru Dan Poynter claims that a nonfiction book can provide writers with fame, more credibility than anything else, money, and the satisfaction of sharing your knowledge, experience, and helping others (Writing Nonfiction, Parapublishing, 2000). It is much easier to break into the nonfiction market than the more competitive fiction market, and titles tend to stay in circulation longer. If you have a specific area of knowledge, there is undoubtably a market of some sort for your book. Which takes us back to the proposal.

Unlike fiction, where you write the book first and try to flog it afterwards, nonfiction tends to be sold on a combination of the idea, and the expertise of the author. But a rough concept isn’t good enough. To sell a nonfiction book idea you need a solid, well written proposal, and that is where Stephen Blake Mettee can help. The flagship book in his Fast-Track course series, How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal is a clear, succinct but thorough, guide to writing that all important proposal.

Mettee’s style is informal and even a little humorous as he spells out, step by step, how to pull your proposal together. As president of Quill Driver Books, Mettee knows his business. He has read and rejected many manuscripts and understands both what publishers want and the way that writers tend to think. The book is short at only 113 pages plus index and glossary, and gets straight to the point of teaching readers how to write a query letter and its accompanying 5 part proposal.

Throughout the book are Mettee’s personal tips of the trade (including “Mettee’s secret” for selling more books, which I won’t divulge), along with lots of examples, success stories, and a few well placed cartoons. A sample of a real life successful query letter and book proposal are also included along with a sample agency contract, a sample book contract, and a nonfiction book proposal checklist.
Mettee’s style packs a lot of information into an anecdotal, easy to remember format:

As the old saw about a woman’s skirt goes, your proposal should be short enough to be interesting but long enough to cover the subject. In most cases a well written proposal will run between ten and fifty pages. (4)

If you want to put together a nonfiction book proposal, this is as clear and focused a guide as you could hope to find. Mettee cuts straight to the chase and provides a very easy to follow, no nonsense guide which will become a reference classic.

Views All Time
Views All Time
623
Views Today
Views Today
1