Let's talk about the money that writers make when writing a book proposal. To begin with, the first money you make is called an advance. It's called an advance because it's an advance against royalties. This means the publisher gives you this money "in advance" of the book's publication and "in advance" of the book's earning any money for the publisher. You do not have to pay it back if the book flops. If the book is a success, you will "earn out" your advance. That is, the book will earn so much money that the advance you were paid is covered by those earnings. After you earn out your advance you can also earn royalties.

So, how much will you get paid for your book? You must remember that for a nonfiction book, most publishers are not interested in your completed book, all they care about is the book proposal. If you write a book and no one buys it, book author Michael Crichton you've wasted your time. So don't write a book, write a book proposal. Your literary agent will then sell the book based on your 10- to 15-page book proposal. How to write a book proposal is described extensively on this Web site. Advances for book proposals range from small to large. Publishers Marketplace lists them like this:

  • a "nice deal" ranges from $1 to $49,000
  • a "very nice deal" ranges from $50,000 to $99,000
  • "good deal" ranges from $100,000 to $250,000
  • a "significant deal" ranges from $251,000 to $499,000
  • a "major deal" ranges from $500,000 and up

For example, here are some recent deals. This is just a sampling of the thousands of deals that are reported, on a daily basis, by Publishers Marketplace.

  1. At the beginning of 2010 a spirituality book proposal landed a "nice deal" (from $1 to $49,000) for author Rebecca Ondov.
  2. On March 31, 2010 a book proposal for a biography of Isabella, Queen of Spain, landed a "good deal" (from $100,000 to $250,000) for author Kirstin Downey.
  3. On November 17, 2009, Author Duane Chapman landed a "significant deal" (from $251,000 to $499,000) for a book proposal describing the memoir he wants to write.

    I can't tell you how much you'll make for your book proposal. But I can tell you that without a book proposal it's unlikely that you'll sell your book because today literary agents and publishers don't want to see your finished nonfiction book. As a general rule, all they're interested in is the book proposal. To find out how to write a book proposal, explore this Web site. It will guide you so that you can complete a book proposal and get your first (or next) book deal. (Photo: Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park. Crichton was known for blockbuster fiction, but he was a medical doctor and also wrote a good deal of nonfiction. Here he is smiling, thinking about his next advance.)