How to write a book proposal

 

Your Ultimate ReSource Guide

11 Key Tips For Writing A Successful
Book Proposal 

from Author & Editor Christine Miller MA FRSA

 

As a published author, an editor and publisher with over 8 years experience, and more than 25 years in business as a consultant and business owner, I am often asked about the best way to approach getting published.

Of course, the publishing world is changing rapidly, and many writers are choosing to self-publish. However, whether your book is launched into the world via a publisher, or you decide to publish independently, it is still a very valuable exercise to set out your aims and intentions and do the research on the marketplace for your book. That’s where my expertise will help you.

Whatever method you choose, there’s going to be marketing and publicity involved in reaching your readers, and in order to create and present your book in the most effective way possible, you will need to be clear about its content, niche in the market, and what makes it special and worth the attention of your readers. A little time spent upfront can ease the path, and gives you a vision and structure to keep you on track through the writing process.

Following this simple guide will help you identify where your work fits in, then whatever you decide about your method of publishing, you’ve got a framework to work to get your words out into the world in front of your audience.

Cover Page

A nice optional extra. It can look like a book cover, or just contain the book’s title, your name and contact information, and the bookstore category under which the book will be shelved (e.g. Health/Self-Help)

Summary

Write this last. It’s the executive overview. Short, no more than two pages double spaced.
Purpose: if the editor reads nothing else, she’ll at least know what you have in mind. Ideally, it will be sufficiently compelling to make the editor read the rest.

Christine Miller's book proposal guideThe Market

This section shows that you have thought through the question of who will buy the book and why.

Audience

How many people would be interested in this book? Give demographics if possible, citing your sources. Show that you’ve done your homework.

Other Books

The competition: how many books are out there on the same subject and how your book will be different.

The Book

Take as much space as you need to give the editor a clear picture of what you have in mind. You might write this with an eye to using some or all as the book’s introduction. Set the stage for what you’re going to tell the reader, provide a bit of factual material (with references if appropriate.) Describe any features that will make the book unique.

Content Overview

Chapter by chapter, describe the contents of the book, one or two paragraphs per chapter. Give samples: e.g. if you’re going to use personal case histories, make up a couple and put them with the
appropriate chapters. If you’re going to use quizzes, make up a few sample questions. Indicate whether there will be appendices and what they will contain. Mention that the book will be indexed (if it’s a non-fiction book, an index is a must.)

Book Length, Illustrations, and Delivery

For example: “A manuscript of about 95,000 words will be delivered within one year after the signing of a contract. Illustrations will consist of line art. Colour will not be required.”

Marketing and Promotion

The publisher wants to know that you will be vigorous in promoting your own book. Here you tell what activities you intend to undertake. Spend time researching and writing this section. It, and the one on the market, are the most important parts of the proposal, from the publisher’s point of view. Show that you have the savvy, energy, and enthusiasm to make your book a success (even if you don’t always feel that way.)

Author’s Qualifications

Who are you, what have you written, and what motivates you to write this book? This is not the time to be self-effacing. Exaggeration is not useful, but an honest statement of your qualifications is essential.

Appendices and Supporting Material

May not be necessary. Depends on the nature of the book.

Download as a PDF here: YUR Book Proposal Guidelines

Provided courtesy of Christine Miller, Porto Publishing & Your Ultimate ReSource © Feb 2011

For details of Christine’s consulting services for authors who want to get published:

Contact Christine  

Comments or questions are welcome.

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About Christine Miller

Christine is a psychologist, executive coach, mentor, speaker, published author and poet. With a varied and successful 25-year career in research and consulting across diverse sectors, she now conducts leadership and organisational transformations. As a guide and mentor she seeks to release untapped potential in her clients.

She has recently completed extensive research into creating sustainable cultures for more values-driven, loving, compassionate organisations, with over sixty global leaders, ranging from HH the Dalai Lama to Sir Terry Leahy and The Rt Hon Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business. Christine is a Fellow of London Metropolitan University Business School’s Centre for Progressive Leadership.

Christine is able to adapt to different environments and issues quickly, where she is known for her ethical approach, her empathy, her stimulating and thought-provoking method of questioning, and for her ability to put people at ease. She is renowned for her creative resourcefulness and wisdom, her penetrating analysis, insights and ability to provoke transformational thinking and action for organisations and individual coaching and consulting clients worldwide.

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