The good news about getting a contract for a nonfiction book is that you don’t have to write the book to sell it. You just have to write the proposal. The bad news is that often authors spend four or five months figuring out what the proposal is.

Where agents earn their commission is helping the author to understand what they should be writing a book about. Last week, my agent, Susan Rabiner, laid out seven tips for writing a better proposal. And this week’s Coachology will be 90 minutes of free help from her to get your proposal into shape. Or, if your initial idea doesn’t work, she’ll help you to come up with something else.

For those of you who think 90 minutes is too long, I just got a contract for my second book — to be published in 2008 — and I spent the last five months writing proposals until I got it right. I’d say that I spent about 900 minutes on the phone with Susan, but after 90 minutes you will at least know what you need to work on.

If you’re interested in working with Susan, please send a three-sentence summary of your proposal (include the idea and your qualifications to write it) by the end of the day on April 29.