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Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write

Written by Elizabeth Lyons

Published by Pedigree (Penguin Putnam)

286 Pages

Reviewed by Beth Morrow 2007– All rights reserved


I’m a nice person. No, really. At the risk of sounding egotistical, I might even be one of the nicer people you’ll ever meet (well, virtually, at least, for many of you. In fact, some of my friends (even my mother) comment that I’m too nice, too agreeable, too willing to help others out when I should say no and worry about myself—which makes the first statement about this month’s book review all the more difficult to share.

And it isn’t what you’re thinking. Elizabeth Lyon’s Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write: How to Get a Contract and Advance Before Writing Your Book was a fabulous read—a definite keeper for the writer’s resource bookshelf and veritable wealth of information presented in a no-nonsense way for writers of all levels and experiences.

Ready for my two-cent opinion: if you read this book, follow her insightful directions and guidance and still aren’t sure how to create a nonfiction proposal, you shouldn’t be a writer. Harsh, yes, but Lyon wrote this book for a reason. If you’re going to read it, take advantage of her knowledge to further your career.

As I mentioned, Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write is for the novice as well as the published author considering nonfiction book writing. Beginning with the purpose of a book proposal, Lyon gives the reader important, necessary points to consider prior to the investment of time, brain power and creativity a book proposal requires. Each chapter centers on one element of the book proposal (outlined in detail in Chapter 1) and gives not only background information on each element but excellent advice on what to include, what to omit as well as relevant samples to consider when crafting your own proposal.

The hidden gem of Lyon’s book, however, is the incredible, useful amount of information she includes in the four appendices. Not sure where to look for reference sources to search out books on your topic? Need to know where to find market guides on publishers and agents? What about what to expect from a literary agency agreement?) All covered in the appendices. Unlike some writing and publishing how-to books, Lyon doesn’t tell you what to do and leave you hanging—she stays with you all the way from start to finish.

Read the text, absorb the lessons and you’ll almost get the feel of an intense workshop. And, if by the time you finish, you’re still not sure how to craft the perfect nonfiction proposal for your idea, well, you know what I think.



About the author: Beth Morrow is a fiction writer who loves playing with nonfiction ideas and fictional characters. Currently in the beginning stages of her fourth novel, you can catch her writing thoughts on her Writer-In-Progress blog at: www.writer-in-progress.blogspot.com.


         Last updated: July 26, 2007