I recently received an email from a potential client. She was a home chef with an idea for a cookbook. She had created a book proposal. A literary agent had asked to read it. After a few days, the potential client received a response, “I have difficulty with the actual recipes. They are incomplete and need a lot of work. And they are written incorrectly.”

The first rule of writing a selling book proposal is:


The second rule of writing a selling book proposal is:


It should seem obvious. But many people, especially novices, think that all it takes to sell a non-fiction book is a great idea. This may have been true once. But today’s market is rife with experts who’ve written books, and wonderful writers who publish non-fiction to supplement their screenwriting careers. You only get one shot with an agent.

That’s why the third rule of writing a selling book proposal is:


I personally love research. It’s one of my favorite things about the writing process. Discovering a new topic is rewarding and fun. Creating a new way to present that topic is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. In the end, if I’ve done my research well, the pieces fit perfectly.

And an agent will be happy to go out and pitch the proposal. A publisher thrilled to send an advance.

The potential client became a client. We did our research.

And created a fun, hip new way to present her culinary idea – tasty ingredients added, and written in the correct order - that she can feel confident sending to agents and publishers.

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