Tag s | book proposals

Two Types of Nonfiction Books: Which Are You Writing?

Broad Appeal

I receive a number of emails each day advertising new books and older books being released as ebooks. Recently one notice contained summaries of several titles in a series. I thought the book on three views regarding remarriage after divorce sounded interesting.

As faithful blog readers, you may gasp, “Is Tamela getting divorced?”

The answer is a resounding, “No!”

I credit my long marriage (since 1984) to my husband’s patience with me!

And no, divorce is not touching my life in any special way at the moment. Yet I still found this topic interesting. The title drew me in, with its promise of different perspectives on a difficult subject.

So why am I telling you this? Because in my view, Remarriage after Divorce in Today’s Church: 3 Views (Counterpoints: Church Life), illustrates some factors that can help you sell your nonfiction book to a broad audience:

  • A great title that explains right away how the book will interest and/or help the reader.
  • Fills an immediate felt need for many readers.
  • Authority of the authors.
  • Strong enough to interest even those readers who don’t have an immediate need for the book.
  • A good book for gaining knowledge on a topic that affects many.
  • A writing style that engages a wide range of readers.
  • Helps readers fine-tune their actions and/or positions on a topic.

An author hitting all, or at least most, of these points has a good chance of finding a traditional publisher, and becoming one of the go-to authors on the chosen topic.

Niche Appeal

However, not every nonfiction book could or should appeal to the broadest possible range of readers. One example is this book on clipping and grooming a poodle.

Poodle Clipping and Grooming is and always will be a niche title geared primarily to these specialty groups:

  • Poodle owners interested in different ways to groom their Poodles.
  • Professional dog groomers, specifically those who need to know how to groom Poodles.

But note that according to its Amazon listing, this book was published in 2000 and yet is still in print. It is written by an authority on the topic. The book does not use pretense to appeal to readers interested in any other topic. Yet based on its long print run, this is a well-respected book on this specific topic so I’ll surmise that the author has enjoyed a long span of collecting royalty checks.


I suggest than when writing your proposal, know how you are going to present your book to either your broad audience or to niche readers. A good agent will be essential in finding the right publisher for you. If you are writing in a niche, be sure your agent knows the publishers who are pursuing that niche and are well respected publishers in your chosen area.

Whether you are writing a nonfiction book with broad appeal or with narrow appeal, success can be yours with the right approach and an understanding of what your book means to the reading public.

Your turn:

What is the most nichy book you have read?

What is the most nichy book you have bought and keep as a reference?

What book in your collection would surprise those perusing your personal library?


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The Proposal Review Process

You’ve all been there (and if you haven’t yet, you will…). You put together the perfect proposal and finally, finally send it off to agents for their review. So what happens next? Well, from your point of view, waiting. And waiting. And…(yes, we’ve covered that before. The waiting. That’s not …

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The Best Time to Submit to an Agent

Thanks to Katie Powner for her question on my May 25, 2016 blog, which sparked this blog. There have been many changes in publishing over the last few years. In fact, it seems we just get used to some element of publishing, and wham! It’s turned on its head. But …

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I’m Always Open to Submissions

Sometimes authors send me an email asking, “Are you looking at new submissions?” or “Are you accepting new clients?” I appreciate these authors’ desire not to waste my time or theirs, but I’ll say it here: I’m always open to submissions and new clients. Now, does this mean I’m open …

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What’s Wrong with my Book?

As you can imagine, we see hundreds of proposals and manuscripts each month. And, as you can also imagine, we must decline most. However, there are a few mistakes you can avoid to help your submission rise above others: Not beginning the story in the right place. All too often, …

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Why I Don’t Critique Your Work

A fantastic blog post from Ramona Richards reminded me why I, as a literary agent, don’t offer critiques on rejected proposals. Believe me, as someone who used to write books, I understand the disappointment of the unhelpful rejection letter. So much that I blogged about it (click to read it). …

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The Why and How of Selecting Endorsers

Some authors find the endorsers section tricky when they write book proposals. If this describes you, or if you would like a refresher, I hope this post will be helpful. The Why: I can’t say I’ve ever sold a book based on an endorsement alone. Content is king. But the …

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The Hardest Part of Being a Writer

If there’s anything I hate to do, it’s wait. At the gas station, at the grocery store, at the doctor’s office…it’s wait, wait, wait! Drives me nuts. I want to get going, get things done, move, do something! Not just stand or sit there. If you’ve been at this writing …

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Limitations Inherent to Non-Fiction Publishing

Some categories of books in the Christian market have very limited potential for publication. A publisher may do just one every year or every ten years on a particular topic or category. When you send your proposal to an agent or ask your agent to pitch a title in one …

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The Right Number of Words

More times than I’d like, my office must send out letters advising aspiring authors that their manuscripts are too short or too long. Much of the time, the author is talented but hasn’t investigated the market well enough to know if the word count is right. Submitting a project that’s …

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