How to Write a Book Proposal?

Apart from the details included in the proposal form, you should consider making some explanations about your writing material clearly so that the evaluation that will be done can be done in an organized and in-depth manner.

What is Book Proposal?

A book proposal is a document intended to convince a publisher that your project is economically viable for their publishing house. It needs to persuade its reader that your idea has enough commercial potential that the publisher should take the risk of putting money and resources into your book. Beyond that, book proposals are also wonderful developmental tools. The act of writing one will help you clarify your thoughts and find a way to express your book idea clearly and succinctly. It will also help you understand the essence of your project so that you can communicate it with more ease.

When writing your proposal it is important to think about your audience. It is very likely that your proposal will be read by someone who does not know you or anything about your subject. With this in mind, how can you describe your project in such a way that it sounds interesting and compelling, and above all, economically viable? And remember, convincing this reader is only the first step. If they get behind your project, they will then have to convince the publisher’s sales team and/or finance department that it is worth the risk.

Things You Should Consider

1) Header

Start with the working title of the project along with your name, email, and phone number.

2) A brief synopsis of the book

This should essentially be your elevator pitch, so be sure to describe your book in a succinct and compelling way.

3) Longer synopsis of the book, if you feel it is necessary

This is a longer narrative description of the project. It should clearly answer the following questions:

  • What is the project?
  • Why are you the right person to write this book?
  • Do you have any special connections or access that is worth mentioning—for example, if this is a book about a museum, do you have a contact there? Have they agreed to work with you?
  • And, again, stress why this project is commercially viable. What is the audience for this book, and how can you reach them?

4) Chapter breakdown

Create a list of chapters with a few sentences describing what you will cover in each. If this will be an art book, you might also include a few images here. If you have an idea for a well-known person who might be a good fit for writing a foreword, include that, too. It helps sales to have a famous name attached to any book. And, you need not know the person—it can just be an idea for an appropriate person.

5) Sample chapter

For non-fiction, include the text you would use as your introduction along with one or two sample chapters. If your project is fiction, instead of sample chapters, you should submit the first 40 to 50 pages of your manuscript, or, if applicable, the entire manuscript. In either case, the quality of the writing is important, but much more so in fiction. Also in the case of fiction, be sure to craft your early pages well to grab the reader and make them want more.

6) Book details

Here is a place to describe the details of the project. You might include approximately how many words you imagine the final book will be. If you are in including images, you might include a list of how many images you envision, whether the book will be color or black and white, and whether the images will be free to use or require a budget (for acquiring the rights to use them). If an art book, include some of the strongest images up front in the proposal, and perhaps a few pages of small images at the end of the document; you might also want to pepper a few images throughout the proposal to illustrate the text.

7) About the author/biography

This should explain who you are, and make an argument for why you are the right person to do this project. Again, demonstrate that you can reach a buying audience with this book idea. This section should list any relevant articles or books you’ve already published, preferably with view counts and/or sales figures; a list of the magazines and other press outlets that have reported on your work; lectures you have given—basically anything that supports your argument that this book should exist and you are the right person to write it.

Remember, the reader of this document probably does not know you, and you want to make sure they can see that you are capable of doing this project and of effectively getting it out into the world. For this reason, you’ll need to be a bit braggy. I personally find it very hard to write such self-aggrandizing text; my solution has been to show a first draft to a friend who knows me and my work well, and ask them for suggestions of how to make it more convincing. Publishers are also interested to know if you’ll be willing and able to do public speaking or television appearances to promote your book. This will inevitably come up later, so make sure to mention your experience here if applicable.

8) Platform/audience

Increasingly, publishers want to know that their authors will be able to reach an audience who will buy the book. This section should demonstrate your reach. List here your stats for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, a website or blog if you have one, etc. Also include the number of people on your mailing list, if applicable, and detail any other way you have of engaging with an audience.

9) Market profile

Begin with a narrative: What is the market for this book? Establish that this particular book does not already exist, but similar books do. Now make a list of similar books and note the date of publication. For each book, write a brief synopsis, and what makes it similar or different from yours. The goal here is to demonstrate that your book is filling a gap in a viable market.

10) Format (if an art book)

Describe how you imagine the book will look. What size is it? What is the design like? You might use an existing book, preferably by that publisher, as a starting point. Do you see the book as full color or black and white? If you have design skills, you might also include a few sample spreads (a spread is two pages of a book side by side) showing how you imagine the general layout will look. If a photo book, be sure to include images as well, and detail if you have permission to use them, what kind of camera you used, and what resolution/quality the images are.

11) Selling venues outside of traditional bookstores

Do you know of specialty shops that would be likely to stock this book? Eg. Museum shops, or other specialty shops of various sorts? If so, list them here.

12) People who might provide a blurb

Do you have any ideas for well-known, influential, or famous people who might provide a blurb? If so, include a list of your ideas.

13) Preliminary schedule

How long after signing the contract would you need to deliver the final manuscript and, if applicable, all of the images?

* This guide was adapted from Joanna Ebenstein at : https://thecreativeindependent.com/guides/how-to-write-a-book-proposal/