My agent has asked me to write a proposal for my new novel. Since he wrote the proposal for my last (and only other) novel before submitting it over a year ago, I am genuinely terrified I'm going to mess this up. This novel is in a genre he normally doesn't rep, so I guess I'm the best qualified to write this.
Is this something literary agents expect their clients to know how to do (and do often)? I've bought a couple books and have googled a ton to make sure I get this right, but I can't get my agent to even answer my (few and far between) emails to ask him (I know... I know... that's a whole other problem). Thanks in advance for your advice.
I'm a tad perplexed here since I've never asked anyone to write a proposal for a novel. Generally my clients write either
1. a novel or
2. several chapters and an outline.
Which is not to say I haven't sold books based on notes on a cocktail napkin but that's not a proposal either.
Maybe several chapters and an outline is what your agent means.
The best thing to do though is ask him to show you what he wrote for your first novel proposal. In fact, why is it that you haven't seen it?
You've also not mentioned if the first book sold. If it did, what the publisher needs in order to decide on acquiring the second book (or option book) is spelled out in the contract. It should say "full manuscript" or "synopsis" or "three chapters" or something very similar. It should be clear what's expected.
If your book did NOT sell, you've pointed out a problem with communication with your agent. You might think about addressing that before moving ahead on the next project.
Communication only improves when both parties are aware of the problem and working to fix it.