Editing Non-Fiction Book Proposals

Editing Non-Fiction Book Proposals

with Trena White

A thorough book proposal is required for most non-fiction authors to land a deal with a publisher or representation by a literary agent. In this three-hour session, you will learn how to shape a non-fiction book proposal that will open doors. You’ll discover each of the elements required (from competitive title analysis to author bio, chapter summaries and more) and how to make them stand out. You will learn about common editorial issues with non-fiction book proposals and how to help position a book for the marketplace. At the end of the workshop, participants will understand:

  • the five most common book concept problems and how to help your clients refine them
  • how to structure a non-fiction book proposal
  • the most common issues with each section of a book proposal and how to overcome them
  • how to express an author’s platform and reach in a way that generates interest from the industry
  • how publishers evaluate book proposals, and common reasons they reject submissions

Workshop outline:

  • discussing when a non-fiction author requires a proposal
  • understanding the audience and tone of a book proposal
  • discussing the questions in-house editors ask when reviewing proposals, so you can learn to anticipate their objections
  • discussing questions you can ask to help your clients refine their book concepts for the marketplace
  • examining each section of a non-fiction book proposal and how to avoid common pitfalls
  • reviewing typical queries you might use to elicit the strongest proposal from your clients

Non-fiction editors of all levels are welcome. Those interested in substantive editing in particular will find this workshop appealing, though prior substantive experience is not required. Please note that query letters for fiction manuscripts are not the focus of this workshop.

Participants will be asked to read a non-fiction book proposal in advance, and to be prepared to discuss parts of it in the workshop.

Trena White is co-founder of Page Two, a Vancouver-based publishing agency specializing in non-fiction books, and an associate agent of Transatlantic Agency. Before launching Page Two, Trena was publisher of Douglas & McIntyre and Greystone Books, and a non-fiction editor at McClelland & Stewart. She is an adjunct professor in publishing at SFU.


Date & Time: Feb 25, 2017 10:00 AM to
Feb 25, 2017 01:00 PM
[America/Vancouver UTC -8]


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Location: SFU Harbour Centre
Room 2200
515 West Hastings Street
Vancouver B.C.

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Registration Closes: Feb 17, 2017 11:59 PM

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EAC-BC Branch Coordinator
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