Writing is a business for which everyone should be paid. Handsomely. Period. The amount of physical and emotional anguish that writers endure—pitching, writing, editing, revising, and promoting—can feel devastating. No writer should be paid pennies on the dollar for blog posts no one will ever see, nor should the emotional burden be saddled for free. However, there are times the prospective return on investment–on your time spent writing an unsold piece—can be both emotionally and professionally rewarding.
I’m talking about the book proposal. A book proposal is a one-stop-shop summary and promotional guide for your book, containing everything from chapter outlines to excerpts and marketing strategies. The length can be anywhere from a few pages to a few dozen pages. Writing a book proposal is no easy task, however. In fact, it may feel more daunting than the actual writing of the book! This class will give you tangible tools that you can use to get one step closer to selling your book.
Moving from how to structure your proposal, to the meaty chapter outline and excerpts, to best-practice techniques for submitting to agents and publishers, this workshop will tackle the beastly (and often prosperous) animal that is to publishing your nonfiction book.
We will take a broad look at publishing and book proposal writing:
- By studying the language used on book jackets to channel the structure of an inside flap and the language of the publishing industry.
- Learning to work from a template and to build your own for use later.
- Publishing credits and how to get the proposal noticed and where to begin when seeking literary representation.
The class is ideal for all levels of creative nonfiction and memoir writers. Fiction writers may find the drafting and chapter outline specifics helpful. While novels have been sold on single-chapter proposals, this is typically an exception and not the rule. Students should come prepared to discuss your idea for a book and three books that are similar to the one you would like to write.
The final product will be a solid book proposal outline and introductory section of that proposal. Classes will be a blend of instruction, writing, and workshopping.
This class will meet over our video chat platform. You will need to use Google Chrome to join your class meetings.
- Students will learn to conceptualize longform nonfiction projects and their magazine offsprings
- Students will understand the publishing industry as a business and the ways to navigate the sale of a book in the context of sales rather than art
- Students will come away with a polished book proposal ready for an agent's perusal
- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will be expected to write 25 pages over six weeks. Students with a partially-begun or completed-draft of a book proposal are encouraged, though only a seedling for a book idea is required to begin. Reading will be intensive, with anywhere from 25 to 50 pages each week.
Week 1: What is a book proposal? How can it benefit me? The layout, the project, the roadmap.
Week 2: Book jacket emporium and the comparable title.
Week 3: Audience, promotion and platform. Or, is my social media presence a deal-breaker?
Week 4: The four key components.
Week 5: The secret ingredient and how it makes a special sauce of literary spice and allure.
Week 6: The Query Letter, Agents and Onward.
Kenneth R. Rosen joined the staff of The New York Times in 2014 and is the author of two forthcoming books of nonfiction. He is a frequent contributor to WIRED. A finalist for the Livingston Award for international reporting, he won the Bayeux Calvados-Normandy Award for war correspondents and a Clarion Award for his reporting from Iraq.
“Ken is an inspiring and knowledgeable teacher who always makes his subject approachable. He has a knack for instilling his 'can do' attitude in his students: his confidence is infectious!”