Nonfiction Book Proposal Critiques

For more than a decade, I worked at a mid-size commercial publisher that specialized in nonfiction; I was also an editor at an award-winning literary journal that published award-winning journalism and narrative nonfiction. I've prepared book proposals for myself and critiqued hundreds of others. Here's how I can help you.

If you have a book proposal draft ready

If you have a completed book proposal draft, then in most cases, I recommend one of the following options.

Book Proposal Phone Consultation ($400): We'll schedule a one-hour phone or Skype consultation to discuss your book concept and/or book proposal. If the proposal needs significant work, then a call is usually the better option than an edit—as well as more economical for you. In some cases, authors who have little experience with or exposure to book proposals haven't included all the necessary sections, or they haven't been sufficiently thorough in addressing competing titles, identifying the target market, or putting together a marketing plan.

I'll tell you the strengths and weaknesses of your position and help you determine how to best revise the proposal or reposition the project. We can also discuss if self-publishing or assisted publishing is a more appropriate option.

A phone consult is also ideal if you can't afford a full edit, but are able to use my verbal feedback to revise on your own. On rare occasions, I'll recommend a partial edit combined with a phone consult, usually at a cost of $400–$600, especially if you have budget limitations.

Appointments are generally available within 1-2 weeks of submitting your information through the form below; the entire fee will be due when we schedule the appointment.

Book Proposal Edit and Consultation (varies, anywhere from $600 to $2,000). If your proposal is relatively complete and can benefit from hands-on editing, then I will likely recommend a book proposal edit and consult. I can usually send an edited proposal within 2-3 weeks of receiving it.

For the more expensive option, here's how my editing process works:

  • I will conduct a thorough review and edit of your book proposal, specifically looking at how effective it is in making a business case that would be compelling to agents or editors at a traditional publishing house.
  • If you've written sample chapters and included them in the proposal draft, I will read them, but I do not offer hands-on manuscript editing as part of this service. I mainly read the sample to ensure you're delivering on the promise made in the proposal itself, and to look for any red flags in the writing or content quality that might lead to rejection. For example, a professor writing a book for a mainstream audience may have a voice that's too academic for commercial publishers, and I will raise and discuss such editorial issues, but I do not correct them. I have a list of recommended developmental and content editors for authors who need additional manuscript development.
  • I will make edits to the proposal document (using Word's Track Changes feature) and actively restructure wherever I believe strongly you ought to revise. I may also add light comments to the file to serve as prompts or to draw your attention to areas we need to discuss.
  • About 24 hours before our scheduled call to discuss your proposal, I'll send you the edited file. During our appointment (up to 1 hour), we'll go through the proposal section by section. I'll explain the reasons for my edits, describe what further work needs to be done, and make sure you know the next steps and how to revise before submitting to an agent or editor. The conversation is recorded so you can refer to it later if needed.
  • Usually there is at least 15 minutes to discuss any questions you have or go over areas where you would like further guidance.

I will quote you an editing price after reviewing your proposal draft. Cost is based on the length and complexity of your proposal. If you'd like the opportunity to come back to me with revisions later on, I can quote you a price that includes email or phone feedback.

Need agent and publisher recommendations?

Many writers come to me asking for recommendations of agents or publishers to approach. While I don't offer hands-on assistance with finding the right agents or publishers for your work (it would require me to research the market on your behalf), I outline the research process here. Some writers really dislike conducting this research, so if you prefer to hire someone to find appropriate markets, try Copy Write Consultants; my clients get a special rate.

When your proposal or project has significant commercial challenges

Some book concepts haven't been carefully thought through, and need to be re-conceptualized if they are to succeed in the market. Still other authors, even if they have a decent proposal, don't have a platform that can support commercial publication. I review every proposal that is submitted through the form; even if a phone consult or proposal edit is not recommended, I will give you an evaluation (via email) of the commercial potential of your project, guidance on next steps, and—if needed—recommendations for trusted manuscript editors, ghostwriters, or other publishing professionals. It will be an email-driven conversation, with an opportunity for you to ask questions and get your concerns addressed by someone you can trust. The fee for this consulting is $200.

If you don't have a book proposal draft ready

I offer an online course on book proposals; if you become a student in the course, you'll have the ability to ask me questions about writing and assembling a proposal on your own. Once you have a proposal draft, you can submit it to me for paid review as described above.

Alternatively, you can hire me for a book concept critique ($200).

Contact Form

If you have trouble using the form below—or have questions about my services—please email me or you can use my contact page.

    A $200 deposit is required for me to review your proposal. This deposit will be put toward the final cost of your consult/edit, or it will cover the full cost of an email-based evaluation of your project.
  • Accepted file types: doc, docx, pdf, rtf.
  • $ 0.00
    This is a deposit only and will be put toward the cost of consulting. You will receive a quote for the full cost via email after I review your proposal document.
  • American Express

caret-down caret-up caret-left caret-right
I am so grateful you reviewed my proposal—your advice to reposition the book was invaluable. After I sent my first pitch to Familius, within 3 days the acquisition editor contacted me. A month later, I signed a contract for Feed the Baby Hummus, And Other Pediatrician-Backed Secrets from Cultures Around the World.
Lisa Lewis

My book, The Whole Pregnancy, just got a publishing deal with Skyhorse Publishing out of New York. I really found your advice helpful, so I just wanted to thank you!

Aimee Aristotelous

I took your book proposal course last summer and want to let you know that I'm sitting here right now reading a contract from an agent—all thanks to you!

Jane Perdue

Just wanted to share the good news that my book, Running with Raven, came out today from Kensington Press. Thanks for your guidance in getting me here.

Laura Lee Huttenbach