Book Proposal Tips

Your Winning Book Proposal

Professionals from every field consider the process of producing an effective book proposal a truly daunting task, especially when they learn the extent to which they must sell–even justify–their idea in the competitive publishing market.

Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else
that so beautifully furnishes a house.
— Henry Ward Beecher

Proposal packages remain the best marketing tool nonfiction book authors have when they approach agents or editors. The package includes a narrative chapter outline and sample chapters, but the proposal itself is a critical piece.

Let these six key concepts guide your proposal plan:

The Hook – agents and/or editors want to be drawn in quickly. Your hook can be a statement, an anecdote, or even a startling or important statistic. Use the first paragraph or two to describe the essence of your book.

The Reason – why does this book fill a gap or respond to a particular need among a select group of potential readers? Who are those readers? What is your book’s fundamental appeal to a primary audience, along with one or two secondary markets?

The Readers – can you identify your primary readers? Will your book appeal to women or men under or over a certain age? Individuals with a particular medical condition? New parents? Aspiring investors, avid gardeners, or beginning golfers? You may have strong secondary markets, too. If you are writing about health problems that affect the elderly, then perhaps your market includes medical professionals and family members.

The Timing – why is this book needed now? What trends exist in business, medicine, technology, cooking, parenting, travel, and so forth, which make your book a compelling topic today? How do your experience and concept complement other available books on the topic.

The Author – why are you the best person to write this book? What special experience or quality do you bring to it?

The Platform – nowadays, the platform and promotion plan are key to finding agents and/or editors and this section of a nonfiction book proposal may be the most important element of all. Are you known in your field? Do you have media experience? How do you plan to promote your book? What avenues have you already developed? How will you use your website to promote the book? How does your special expertise and skills drive the promotion plan itself? (Details required!)

Remember that I’m available to help you on your journey from your idea to publication, including this step, your book proposal package. — Virginia