View Full Version : Query vs. Book Proposal

01-12-2009, 05:39 PM
I've written the first draft of a non-fiction book.

What should I send to publishers and agents: a query or a book proposal?

I'm confused on the difference between the two.

01-12-2009, 05:46 PM
If trying to sell the idea for an unwritten book to a publisher, it's a proposal (you're proposing to write the book, if they like the idea).

If it's already written, you're querying.

But if it's only a first draft... maybe it's not really written yet... so maybe you're submitting a proposal. <dizzy>

I'm playing safe and moving this question to Ask the Agent forum. If you don't think that's a good fit, just shout.


01-12-2009, 06:59 PM
Nonfiction is usually sold based on the proposal alone, so even if you have a first draft written make sure you have a polished proposal.

Then decide if you're going to approach agents or publishers. Do your research, make sure you're targeting the correct ones.

01-13-2009, 01:21 AM
You send the query first, then a proposal if the agent asks you for one. Even though you have finished your nonfiction book, no agent would likely read it without a proposal spelling out its subject, organization, author credentials, and marketability. In fact, it's likely that the agent would ask you for a sample chapter or two, included with the proposal, before reading the entire manuscript.

01-13-2009, 03:30 AM
All depends on the guidelines of the agent. Generally, editors of nonfiction will ask for proposal or synopsis, and maybe a query letter or sample chapters. Be prepared for all, especially the proposal and a polished manuscript. If an editor asks to see your work based on your excellent proposal, you don't want to be in a position of first having to complete it.

01-13-2009, 07:45 AM
True, the finished manuscript should be in very good shape. But let's understand one possibly unintuitive aspect of nonfiction books. Editors at publishing houses really prefer not to be handed a completed manuscript for a nonfiction book; instead, they would rather begin with a book proposal and a couple of excellent sample chapters. That way they can help to shape the final book. If your manuscript, Mordechai, is not quite what an editor wants, he or she will happily ask you to rewrite--one chapter, two chapters, maybe the majority of the book. That's why it's best to submit a query (first) and a proposal (second) to an editor--or, more likely, to an interested agent.

01-13-2009, 06:45 PM
Thanks for the response.

I think my query would include a hook, a synopsis, a chapter outline, my bio, and my marketing plan.

01-14-2009, 10:27 PM
Take a look at some of the published guides for submitting to agents and editors. There are fairly standard items for both query and proposal--and they mean different things.