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Writing Workshops

How to Write a Book Proposal with Seth Kaufman


2 Sessions

Out of stock

Saturday & Sunday 11:00 am EDT - 2:00 pm EDT June 10 to June 11, 2023

Online via Zoom

Behind almost every traditionally-published nonfiction book is a successful book proposal. No doubt, you want to write a complete memoir, biography, cookbook, or advice guide—and you should!—but literary agents and the publishing house editors who buy books don’t want to read your entire manuscript. At least, not yet. They want to read your book proposal.

This Book Proposal Bootcamp aims to help writers understand what proposals are and how to best convey, present and, yes, sell the book they envision. Doing that means being aware of the obstacles and the market realities that face all prospective authors and all book proposals. In a competitive, overcrowded market, how do proposals find agents that “get” it? What sets a work apart? And what and why will a proposal appeal to one agent or editor and not another?

Course Outline

Our two-day camp will start with an overview of the class. We’ll discuss the essential elements of a traditional book proposal—Overview, Readership, Marketing, Chapter Summary and Sample Chapter— and participants will share what they hope to get out of the class. After a brief show-and-tell of sample book proposals, we’ll hone presentation strategies to help writers optimize and convey the hook of their book. In short breakout sessions, participants will role-play, pitching their projects to each other. Then we will focus on the Overview: Workshopping opening paragraphs that the key elements—story arc, unique content, news-worthy revelations—that make your book an essential read. We’ll also focus on selling ourselves and conveying what makes you the perfect author for your book.

On the second day, we’ll discuss book-specific Chapter Outline approaches. Some summaries can be light and airy. Others may be heavily detailed. And some ambitious books utilize a two-paragraphs-per-chapter strategy. For the sample section, writers will discuss the chapter they want to write. How does it fit into the story described in the Overview? What are its selling points? What is the goal of the sample? To instantly hook the reader? To demonstrate authorial authority? To offer a stunning conclusion? Or share bombshell revelations uncovered midway through the book?

The last half of the day will focus on solving—or at least strengthening— your marketing pitch. Social media platforms, or lack thereof, are a significant concern for prospective authors. That said, many writers break through without a pre-existing social media presence, and others with millions of followers have bombed. Still, we’ll use breakout sessions to brainstorm and identify networking and marketing opportunities that don’t involve Twitter or BookTok.

Capacity: 20


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  • Kaufman headshot - Seth Kaufman

    Seth Kaufman

    Seth Kaufman

    Seth Kaufman is a ghostwriter and novelist. He is the author or co-author of five book proposals purchased by large and mid-sized publishers, including autobiographies of basketball legend Rick Pitino, video game designer John Romero, and his collection of music essays, Metaphysical Graffiti. He has collaborated on bestselling memoirs, biographies, political and sports books. His work, under his or a client’s byline, has been published by the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker online, LitHub, Publishers Weekly, and other national publications. His satirical work, The King of Pain, was called “one of 2012’s most enjoyable novels” by the New York Times. The autobiography Eat My Schwartz — which Kaufman co-authored (and wrote the proposal for) — was called “easily, one of the most unique and well-done books about NFL life I’ve ever read,” by Bleacher Report scribe Mike Freeman.