The three questions agents and editors ask about your book proposal

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If you’re writing a nonfiction book, your proposal is crucial. It’s a complicated and diverse document. But for the acquisitions editor at a publishing house to make you an offer — or for an agent to represent you — you need only answer three questions: Is your idea a good idea? Can you write? Will … Continued

Was Bob Woodward wrong to keep his book interviews quiet until now?

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The author and former Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward interviewed Trump 18 times for his new book Rage. In a February interview, Trump revealed that he knew how serious a threat there was from COVID-19. Many commentators say Woodward should he have said something as soon as he learned this. I disagree. What Woodward knew … Continued

Must a ghostwriter adopt the author’s voice?

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If you are a ghostwriting a book, must it reflect the voice of the author for whom you’re writing it? I first encountered this question in a PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) conference talk by Blythe Campbell. Blythe speaks and writes eloquently about how public relations professionals need to listen to and understand their … Continued

The two crucial questions every ghostwriter must ask

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Ghostwriting is full of potential pitfalls. Asking two questions can help you avoid them and get your pricing and process right. What you will read in this post is based on my own experience ghostwriting two nonfiction books and many proposals, and from war stories from other ghostwriters. The two questions you must answer before … Continued

Collaborating on research: the value of multiple perspectives

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Two or three researchers can do better than one. Here’s how to take advantage of that. For the purposes of this post, I’m talking about Web research that informs writing, whether that’s an article, a book, a white paper, or an internal document. Even if you’re doing actual primary research, such a survey or interviews, … Continued

What to do when publishers reject your book proposal

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Your agent has sent out your proposal. Now the rejections are coming in. This is typical. It’s the rare proposal that interests all the editors to whom it’s pitched. What you learn from rejections Here are a few insights that can help you make use of what you learn from rejections: Expect rejection. This is … Continued

Why I won’t edit your book

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I turn jobs down. It happens all the time. After five years as a freelance writer, editor, and coach, I can tell when you and your manuscript are going to be a problem — and more importantly, when I can’t help you. If I pass you off to another editor, you’re probably fine. But if … Continued

How to do “comps” in a book proposal

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Every book proposal includes “comps” — competing books. You need to show the potential publisher that you know what other books are out there and how you can differentiate your book from other similar books. Why you need comps There are three reasons to include comps in your proposal. Show you know your market and … Continued