Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Don't write the entire book....

...if it's nonfiction. Y'all know this, yes?

I met someone last night who didn't know this, who is writing a how-to book on educating kids. He thought you had to write the entire draft.

That's really only for fiction and memoir. Forms where the dramatic arc is vital.

How-to books, service books....you do a book proposal. About 50 pages. I sold Pen on Fire on the basis of 50 pages. Of course I had many more because I had been working on the project for years. But I only submitted the best chapters with the proposal.

New writers--authors-to-be--think it's more impressive to an agent and editor if they've writtent he entire book. But no. An agent may want to shape the project differently. And your editor will need something to do.

One of the best books on how to write a book proposal is called just that and it's by Michael Larson. It's been in print for years. I used it for Pen on Fire.

There are exceptions to every rule, but unless you are an exception, follow this rule.


Bar said...

I got my copy of Pen on Fire in the mail today! Its wonderful, I am looking forward to reading every word.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to hear what you think ... and if any sections/chapters esp. speak to you.

Victor Infante said...

Hmmm. You know, this is something I hadn't really thought about. I should probably chat with you at some point, as I'm gearing up to turn "How To Succeed As A Failing Writer" into a book at long last.

I'll probably give you a call and babble like I always do. But you're my favorite person to babble about writing to!

P.S. -- also need to remember to send a copy of "Pen on Fire" to a friend whom I'm trying to get to start writing again.