Question Thanks. I'm working on writing an overview, competitive analysis, publicity plan, and a chapter-by-chapter summary (about 8 lines on each chapter)--a total of 11 pages. I'm enclosing the first three chapters as samples.
Are you saying that I should just write a 1- to 2-page synopsis of the book and submit it along with the query and sample chapters?
I've written a 17-chapter humor book on health and fitness that I believe will sell well--if I can propose it effectively. I've researched the market and there are only 2 or 3 comparable books in print.
I'm trying to write a book proposal along with a query letter. The notewrothy books on writing book proposals (e.g., Larsen's How to Write a Book Proposal) give some practical advice, but don't particularly apply to publishing humor.
How do I write a humor book proposal that will prompt an agent to ask for the complete manuscript?
Thank you for your question. It sounds like a good idea for a book. A well written proposal is key to finding a publisher. In fact, you don't even need a full book proposal these days, because a publisher can tell whether a book is right for them just from a cover letter and a short synopsis. They either publish that sort of book or they don't, so they will read your cover letter and decide whether to request the manuscript.
Make your cover letter concise and descriptive; make your synopsis representative of the book. That's the basic formula.
It's good to think through the whole book proposal, then summarize it in a short presentation. That is your pitch.
At my site i have posted a short piece on How to Find a Publisher. You may find it repetitive after reading Larsen's book, but maybe it will spark some new ideas.
If you have any more specific questions, or follow-up clarifications, please write back again.
Answer Dear Greg,
Writing a good book proposal is important because you need to know what you're selling and you need to know all the angles. You're free to send it out to the publishers you think will be interested. What i'm saying is that most publishers can tell from an inquiry letter whether they want to see the book. If they're looking for humor books on health and fitness, they will write back to you. The amount of paper you send will not change their decision. Anyway, after collecting hundreds of rejection letters (and getting a few books published along the way), i have found that all the extra postage and paper doesn't necessarily help.
However, go ahead and send out the whole proposal to publishers/agents who seem like the best bets.
The most important single thing is your cover letter. They will read the cover letter first and that will help them decide whether to read the rest. The cover letter must be short (less than one page), concise, and deliver a clear picture of what you're selling.
Also, if you send the whole proposal, be sure to enclose a large SASE with enough postage to return the whole proposal. Don't enclose a skinny 37 cent envelope and make them decide what to send back and what to throw away.
I have been writing for publication since 1981, including years as a staff writer, associate editor, editorial writer, and freelance reporter. At this time, I have eight Kindle books for sale at Amazon.com.
Organizations Lakes of Tempe Authors, Tempe, Arizona
Publications Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement
Dreaming Peace: Your Thoughts Can Change the World
Cult Recovery Handbook: Seven Paths to an Authentic Life
Child of the Cult
Learning to Flow with the Tao: The 64 Hexagrams of the I Ching
Positive Quotations: Wisdom from the Master Mind
Collected Writings: Five Books by Nori Muster
Noriland Art Gallery: Secrets from the Vault
Spiritual Summer and Other Short Stories
Education/Credentials UCLA Extension Writer's Program, 1988 - 1994
Master's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, Western Oregon University, 1991
Awards and Honors Interviews: USA Today, Los Angeles Times, BBC World Services Focus on Faith, BBC Sunday Programme, Salon.com, Glamour Magazine, Portland Mercury News, W-Five TV (Toronto), Publisher's Weekly, Boston Phoenix, San Francisco Chronicle, ABC TV News - 20/20, ABC radio, Associated Press, The Age (Melbourne), Rediff.com, The New York Times, Religious News Service, Dallas Morning News, Columbia Journalism School, Whole Life Times (Los Angeles), Toronto Sun, the John Dayle Show (KFYI AM, Phoenix), the Eliot Stein Show (syndicated radio and Internet broadcast), Discovery with Josh Wagner (KKUP, 91.5 FM, Santa Clara, California), KOGO (News Radio 600, San Diego), Jupiterís Girl syndicated radio show, Lakes Log.
Book Reviews: Publisherís Weekly, Feminist Bookstore News, Yoga Journal, New York Post, Choice Magazine, Boston Herald, Nexus (Colorado), Gentle Strength Times, Coastlines (UCSB alumni), Theology Digest, Nova Religio, Rapport, India West, Rediff.com, Amazon.com.
Prescott College reunion; Gentle Strength Co-op, Tempe; Different Drummer Bookshop, Laguna Beach; L.A. Times Toastmasters; Biltmore Plaza Border's Books, Phoenix; Bodhi Tree Bookstore, Los Angeles; Health & Life Enrichment Expo, Pasadena; Sacramento Reads book festival, and others.
Publishers: ISKCON World Review, Van Dhal Publications, Gentle Strength Times, Arizona Woman, Lakes Log, ICSA Today, Cultic Studies Review, University of Illinois Press, Kindle, steamboats.com, surrealist.org, Apple Books, and others.