PDA

View Full Version : Does size matter?



soleary
05-01-2008, 06:57 PM
Hee Hee Hee

No, seriously. My non-fiction book proposal on marketing is now 70 pages long, as a literary agent has asked for me to write another sample chapter and give other areas more meat. Is there a length that's too long for a non-fiction book proposal?

Also, what's the proper length for a non-fiction manuscript? I'm new at the author thing, and would appreciate any pearls of wisdom the group as to offer.

Thanks!

soleary

slcboston
05-01-2008, 07:04 PM
I can't speak to proposals - but just from the nonfiction I do read there doesn't seem to be any set length for the work itself. I think that depends on the topic. Smaller topics mean smaller books, so what you might want to do is wander through your local bookstore and see what the "average" length is in your particular subject matter, for topics similar in weight to yours.

underthecity
05-01-2008, 07:59 PM
Seventy pages for a nonfiction book proposal?? Holy Crap! I'm not an expert, but I have written a couple proposals and have studied quite a bit on how to write them, but that's too long. The proposal should probably be about ten pages, maximum.

And regarding a nonfiction book length, that really depends on the subject. Maybe shoot for 50 to 100K words, but again, it depends on the subject and how much detail you're going into about it.

allen

soleary
05-01-2008, 08:07 PM
Thanks slc and under -- much appreciated! My proposal suggests a catastrophic albeit totally logical change in the way the advertising and marketing industry operates. The two agents I'm corresponding with keep saying that they think I've really got something interesting here, and they'd like to see more. I guess my worry is that I'll have to either write the entire book or take some things out if they want to shop it in proposal form.

Thanks again!
soleary

IceCreamEmpress
05-01-2008, 08:52 PM
Wait, do those 70 pages include a sample chapter? Because that would be different than 70 pages of proposal alone.

soleary
05-01-2008, 09:07 PM
It's 71 including two sample chapters, and growing like a fat kid with a fork and an endless supply of chocolate cake :).

IceCreamEmpress
05-01-2008, 09:10 PM
It's 71 including two sample chapters, and growing like a fat kid with a fork and an endless supply of chocolate cake :).

How long is the non-chapter material?

Because when people are saying "In my mind, the general rule for proposals is ten pages or fewer" that doesn't include sample chapters.

gettingby
05-01-2008, 09:14 PM
10 pages or less? There was a recent thread about this same thing, and nobody said 10 pages or less then. My proposal is 35 pages (or 25 without chaps).

soleary
05-01-2008, 09:26 PM
50 of mine are snipets and chapters. The rest is overview, competitive, bio, etc. and and 8 page addendum of published articles and support articles.

IceCreamEmpress
05-01-2008, 10:09 PM
50 of mine are snipets and chapters. The rest is overview, competitive, bio, etc. and and 8 page addendum of published articles and support articles.

Then I wouldn't worry about it. The agent can decide how much of that to send out to different editors. If you had one big chunk of seventy pages AND sample chapters, you'd need to cut way back.

scope
05-02-2008, 03:14 AM
Nothing is set in stone, but non-fiction proposals usually run between 10 (I think minimum) and 25 (I think maximum) pages WITHOUT any sample chapters. Of course you do what your agent asks for, but generally speaking samples chapters are an addendum, not a part of a proposal.

Phrixos
05-04-2008, 03:26 PM
"non-fiction proposals usually run between 10 (I think minimum) and 25 (I think maximum) pages WITHOUT any sample chapters."

New member here.

Are you talking double-spaced? I've got a 140,000 word (N-F) MS of 42 chapters (a vast subject) and the chapter summaries alone (at the thumb-rule of one MS line per book page, or 4%) takes 25 double spaced pages.

soleary
05-04-2008, 03:31 PM
It's a marketing book proposal, and I didn't double space it. So far, I haven't had any literary agent comment on the spacing.

Phrixos
05-04-2008, 03:49 PM
"I didn't double space it. So far, I haven't had any literary agent comment on the spacing."

Interesting. There are so many "how to write a book proposal" books out there (I have about six of them) and almost all say to double space. Then there's that one, which says to single space.--just enough contrary advice to throw you off.

And what about monospace vs variable--Courier vs TNR? Same conflicting advice.

Phrixos
05-04-2008, 03:51 PM
(Forgot to add):

There's even one that says to single space the chapter summaries only (thus, to double-space all before--but that just sounds loopy.

soleary
05-04-2008, 03:55 PM
Eeek! I think for the narrative I'm doing now I'll go double space. As a closet renegade, I might keep my preferred type font, American typewriter! :) Now all I have to do is find the tool that takes single space and makes it double space. I am wildly format challenged sometimes. Thanks to all for your input -- very much appreciated!!!
soleary

Phrixos
05-04-2008, 04:23 PM
"As a closet renegade, I might keep my preferred type font, American typewriter!"

Speaking as a "modern monster" even I know when to reel in my rebellious streak, to give lit agents just what they say they want--and that starts with THEIR preferred font. Otherwise you're just giving them one more reason to reject you.

Phrixos
05-04-2008, 04:26 PM
I've just noticed--AW has put "ESTEEMED New Member" under my username. Now there's some good marketing!

soleary
05-04-2008, 04:27 PM
I just HATE Courier. It's like an overused word, only worse. It's funny that the literary agents I've dealt with for my marketing book project have given me great feedback, and have yet to tell me to change spacing or font. Maybe it's because it's a biz book? Hmmm. Thanks for the input! Blowing the dust off my Courier ... Yuck.

scope
05-04-2008, 09:57 PM
I recently completed a proposal for a 15,000 word children's non-fiction book. Obviously, your subject is more complex and of greater length.

As I said earlier, nothing is set in stone when it comes to the length of a proposal. When I said 10 to 25 pages I was referring to the majority of proposals which I have seen. Yours, as best as I can tell, runs about 20 pages without sample chapters, snippets, etc. I don't see anything wrong with that. Obviously, we don't want to risk making a proposal so long as to test the patience-and time-of an agent or editor.

My proposal, which I refer to above, runs 18 pages (including Title Page) and contains about 5,000 words. It consists of a very brief Introduction, a Table of Contents, Overview, Specifications, Market, Platform, Competition,
Bio, Published Books, and Chapter Outline.

soleary
05-04-2008, 10:03 PM
Mine is 71 single spaced, with all of the various bells and whistles. I will take out some of the sample chapters if necessary. So far, it doesn't seem to be an issue. We'll see ...
I am going to follow the rules more closely on the current project, a non-fiction narrative.

Thanks to all for the input!
soleary

scope
05-04-2008, 11:11 PM
Sorry, re Proposals I forget to add that I single space between sentences and double space between paragraphs.

Brendie
05-04-2008, 11:42 PM
Why not just ask your agent???

Phrixos
05-05-2008, 01:30 AM
Why not just ask your agent???

Yeah--if I had an agent! The thing is, so many of them write books on how to write books, but every so often forget that their audience is people who need to learn how to write books (and proposals). (Maybe they should read their own books.)

Sorry. That was narky (but I'll leave it in, anyway.)

(Isn't "anyway" superfluous there?)

BTW, everyone, on good writing, take note: I stand by Strunk & White's "Elements of Style", but recently I came across a little gem, a parody (by--get this--author, "A. Parody") on Eats, Shoots & Leaves, called,

"Eats, Shites & Leaves--Crap English and How To Use It"

Michael O'Mara Books, Ltd. London 2007 ISBN: 9781843172741

Its a small and rather cheaply presented paperback, which only real flaw is that it presents itself as a humorous book and, while often hilarious, is really quite serious about the proper use of English. Misleading title, great content, grippingly presented. I keep it open on my desk all the time--for both, a laugh and to get edgimikated.