September 9, 2011

Writing a book proposal

Before you take time to write a full-length book of fiction or nonfiction, you can save yourself time and worry by writing a book proposal. This helps you to think through important aspects of your book, keep your writing on track, and propose your book in a professional manner to the editor of a traditional book publishing company.

A previous article, Basic Steps for Writing & Marketing, will give you an idea of what to expect as you aim for traditional markets. Also, see Outline or Synopsis for information about preparing the outline you need for your nonfiction book or synopsis for your novel.

In addition to an outline or synopsis, your book proposal package will include one to three chapters of your book, depending on the publisher’s preference as shown in their writers’ guidelines, and a cover page with relevant headings such as those shown below:

[Place your name and contact information across the top of each page like a letterhead.]

Book Proposal for _(name of the company your research says might be interested)_

Title: (Place a catchy but relevant title or a tentative title here.)

Author: (your name)

Theme: (For Christian writers, a favorite Bible verse such as Romans 8:28 often provides an excellent theme. Regardless of your choice, your theme and purpose will help you to keep your writing focused from beginning to end.)

Purpose: (An incomplete sentence or phrase with no punctuation usually works well here, for example, “to strengthen faith” or “to promote unity among Christians.”)

Genre: (If fiction, include another heading entitled Setting.)

Book Summary (for nonfiction book) or Story Line (for fiction): (Summarize the book in a sentence or brief paragraph written to encourage an editor to read more.)

Audience (or Readership): (State here what group or age of readers you aim to reach. For instance, a nonfiction book might be aimed at pastors, youth workers, or general laity, whereas a children’s book might appeal to a 2 to 3-year span among toddlers, preschoolers, or school children, for example, 6 to 8 or 12 to 14.)

Length: (Put the expected number of double-spaced pages or the expected word count.)

Marketability (or Comparative Analysis): (Base this brief information on what you find as you research your topic and title in Internet bookstores. Provide any similar or competitive titles and publication dates. If your idea will fill a unique need, say why.)

Platform (or Ideas for Promotion): (If you already have a following or have established an online presence in a blog, website, or profile page on the major social networks, include that information here.)

Author Bio (or About the Author): (Group any prior publishing experiences by genre and/or age group. Briefly provide relevant information such as your education, research, teaching experience, or workshops you have led on your topic.)


© 2011, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.

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