Book Proposal Writing

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The book proposal is your document that we will use to sell your idea to a publisher. If you have written a book proposal, you may submit it to us for consideration, or you may hire us to write it for you.

The proposal itself is your writing sample, so take your time with it and make it the best it can be. It should include the following sections:

1. Title Page

2. Overview
(1-2 pages)

This is a summary—your elevator pitch—of your book. It answers the basic question, “What is your book about?” Start with something that will capture a publisher’s attention. This section is your chance to sell your idea. State a promise of what your book delivers. How is your book unique? What purpose does it serve? (Don’t say “to change the world” or “to eliminate obesity.” That’s too broad.) This is the first thing the publisher’s acquisitions editor (the editor who is responsible for collecting and reading book proposals) will see, so make it interesting.

3. About the Author
(1 page)

This section is your chance to brag, albeit in a professional way. Write a one-page bio about who you are and your professional and personal accomplishments. Be bold, but don’t be ridiculous. Show the publisher why you are the person to write the book. Include all relevant info—writing history, authority on the subject matter, degrees, business pursuits, related work experience, status in your industry, etc. Write it in third person.

4. Style and Approach
(1-2 paragraphs)

Explain the style and approach of your book. Authoritative? Casual? Narrative? Instructional? How will you address the reader? Will you include photos, illustrations, tables, or other artwork or graphics? If so, what type and how many of each? Give an estimate of the number of words. (Most non-fiction books are about 60,000-80,000 words, which equals about 200-265 typed, double-spaced pages. This word count will be included in the publisher’s contract, so make sure you state a word count that you can be close to meeting.)

5. Table of Contents
(as many pages as needed)

This is an important section of the book proposal because it outlines for the publisher what will be contained in your book. It should include an annotated list of all your planned chapters, with a brief summary of each. It should be specific, with an overview of each chapter and major headings and subheadings. Think of the Table of Contents as your working outline from which you will write the book.

6. Market Analysis
(1-2 paragraphs)

Describe the major and minor markets for the book. Who is the book for? Be specific. (Don’t say the book is for everyone.)

7. Marketing Plan & Author’s Platform
(1-2 pages)

The author’s platform represents your ability to sell books, and is one of the most important determinants of whether or not a publisher will agree to publish your book. Your platform often determines how well your book will sell. Publishers want to know that you are invested in the success of your book. In this section of the proposal, describe your platform and give details of your marketing plan.

8. Competitive Analysis
(1 page)

List all the titles that can compete with yours. For each title listed, explain how your book is different. What is lacking in the competitive books that yours includes? How successful have these books been? Spend time in a bookstore to look through the competitive titles, or buy them yourself from Amazon so you can thoroughly read them with a critical eye.