If you are a writer in the process of becoming a published author, having a roadmap for your publishing timeline is an important component of your book selling marketing plan. Whether you are seeking an agent for traditional book publishing or you are planning on self-publishing, preparing a book proposal even before you start writing helps to guide you through the process, serves as an outline of your book, and gives you a checklist of necessary tasks and activities for marketing success.
The #1 reason most people write a nonfiction book is to have a published book that will help identify them as an authority in their field, which means it is even more important that your book sells well, is well-organized and well-edited, and is a professional package.
There are several common elements to a well-written book proposal, however, if you plan to submit your book proposal to an agent or publisher, it is important to ensure that you follow their specific guidelines. Each agent or publisher has formatting and submission standards to follow, and you will have to modify your book proposal accordingly.
The Title Page
- Short titles are preferred; your title should be unique, descriptive, inviting, and attractive to your target market.
- List your name as the author under the title.
- Write a brief and intriguing description of your book, highlighting how your book is different from all of the other similar books on the market.
- List the number of words and number of pages you expect your book to have (either in a 6X9-inch or 8.5X11-inch size). Most nonfiction books are between 150 – 300 pages.
- The synopsis is single-spaced, 1.5 – 2 pages long, and is an overview of your book.
- If your book is not yet completed, include an estimate of the time needed to complete your book once you have a contract or if you have a self-publishing milestone/deadline.
- Write a narrative about your particular qualifications, experience, and reasons for writing your book. This is not a list, a CV, or a resume’.
- Do list your previous books (if you have any) or future related books (especially if this book will be part of a series), your speaking engagements, your media appearances, and your seminars, webinars, podcasts, and workshops.
- List any potential or promised book endorsements.
- This section is all about the “numbers”: the demographics of your potential audience.
- This section should also name statistics that show you have researched your target market.
Table of Contents and Chapter Outline(s)
- Prepare an actual or proposed table of contents, leaving out the page numbers.
- Under each chapter title, write a 1-2 paragraph description of the chapter to show your level of expertise about your subject and to show the order in which you will present the information.
- List and describe any other materials that will be included in your book, such as graphs, charts, photographs, and illustrations.
- Submit or highlight three completed chapters, including the first chapter (most important) and any other two chapters you feel will showcase your book in the best possible light.
- After the first chapter, it doesn’t matter which other two chapters you choose. If your last chapter is your “best” chapter, include it. For nonfiction, you are not giving away the plot or solving the mystery.
Make sure that your book proposal is completed and professionally edited, even if the document is just for you. The goal of having a full book proposal is to assist you in the process of selling your book. Even if you self-publish, many of the elements of your book proposal will be re-purposed in other areas of your overall marketing plan.