July 16, 2019

6 Notes about the Book Proposal that Got Lena Dunham a $3.7 Million Deal

Lena Dunham’s Not that Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” garnered a $3.7 million book deal from Random House. Download the 66-page proposal. Here are some of the things I see.

Successful proposal

1. I usually recommend that the entire proposal be in Times New Roman, 12-point. Lena has gotten into character and written the proposal with several different fonts and point-sizes.

2. The contents page (click here to view a larger version) begins with a caveat–and puts the reader on notice for a different sort of read.

3. Pull quotes add to an sense of mystique. For example, the quote from “my mom’s friend Richard” (click here for a larger version) is Richard Branson? Or, nobody?

4. Colored backgrounds and right-justified text give energy, while they ask my brain to put all of this into a context. Who do I know who is like this girl? (Click here for larger version.)

5. What gets conveyed is a quirky, wacky world; one about which I want to know more. This is precisely the purpose of a book proposal.

6. Don’t be a “me too,” imitating Lena’s proposal. Work on creating intrigue for your book’s world or subject matter. Make it interesting.

Literary Agent and publishers editor readsBook proposal artwork


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