Highlights from Elizabeth Lyon’s Presentation on How to Write Nonfiction Book Proposals

Ashleigh RousselleNotes by Ashleigh Rousselle

A nonfiction book proposal is a business report but it needs to get people excited about your work.

Sixty pages or three chapters should be included.

Novelists have to write the entire novel before; Nonfiction authors need to see if their idea should be developed.

“About the Author” means “Why are you qualified to write this book?”

Expect to be studied personally to see how well you can sell your books. Build your platform! (Platform is self promotion.)

It’s guesswork—you need to convince them that your book will sell in one-three years. Find statistics.

Memoirs can’t just be about yourself, you need a universal/relatable theme.

“A book for everybody is a book for no one”—Define your audience: gender, age groups…  (Women buy more books).

An illusion: making money off books.  75% of books published don’t make back their advance.

Writing books for not a lot of money still allows you to reach the audience you want to reach and could still bring future opportunities.

Multiple books can build an audience.

Go to amazon.net; be clever with synonyms. Find books comparable to what you plan to write (That aren’t self published, and came out within the last five years).

Comparing your book to books that are already published pushes you to make yours different.

If you have already written your book, it probably will need to be revised (a lot), but it’ll be finished by the deadline…

Your writing has to be deemed “professional,” continue improving it

You need to write in an entertaining way, it has to be rewarding/interesting on every page.

If you’re writing a memoir, be prepared to be asked for the whole thing. (Though you could always chop it into smaller pieces and publish them wherever you can.)

Anything you’ve written is already copyrighted. (Protects writers.)

“Fast tracked books” come out six months to a year.

Books can be deemed “out of print”—located in the contract.

Children’s Writers: publishers prefer to assign illustrators for your book.

When selecting your theee sample chapters select consecutive for memoirs, and representative for “how to” books.


One response to “Highlights from Elizabeth Lyon’s Presentation on How to Write Nonfiction Book Proposals

  1. adairheitmann

    Thank you Ashleigh for your highlights on this important topic. You have inspired me to return to the drawing board with my proposals. ~Adair Heitmann