You’ve got a great idea for a book. You’re thinking about writing it. Maybe you’ve already written a portion of it, but the manuscript isn’t 100% complete. This might be the time to consider a fiction book proposal. When you’re writing a fiction book proposal, you’re making the argument to a publisher or literary agent that your manuscript is a product that is marketable. You’re basically creating the outline of a business plan for your book.
This isn’t something that you can just sit down and hammer out in a few months. It isn’t uncommon to see book proposals to reach 50-100 pages in length when idea is complex.
Most book proposals are for non-fiction books. This is because of the enormous amount of research that must go into this type of book. Instead of writing the entire book and then try to find someone who wants to publish it, the design of a business plan can get you a contract for that book now so that you can have confidence in what will happen when it is finally completed.
What about a book proposal for a fiction book? The fact is that most fiction books don’t require a formal book proposal. You might be asked for one by a literary agent or a publisher as part of their submission guidelines, but this is different than the non-fiction process. You’ll generally be asked to submit 3 things in a fiction book proposal if it is required.
- Query letter. Some might refer to this letter as a “cover letter,” but it’s different than the letter you’d send an employer when you’re trying to get hired for a 9-5 job. Your query letter must be a short synopsis of your story, highlighting the main character and the challenges they face. You’ll also want to include your writing credentials and the statistics of your manuscript.
- A partial manuscript. Some submissions may require you to submit the manuscript in its entirety. Whether it is partial or complete, it must be a polished submission. Make sure it is professionally edited and ready to be submitted for publication consideration before sending it in as part of the proposal.
- Anything else that is requested. Editors, publishers, and literary agents may have additional requirements that must be submitted, like a table of contents or a skeleton outline of your novel, in addition to the other two standard items. Make sure you get these things in there so your manuscript can be considered.
The fiction book proposal process is very different from the non-fiction process. Fiction authors don’t necessarily need subject expertise or a full marketing plan to get their work reviewed. They do, however, need to follow submission guidelines to the letter if they want the chance to have their work reviewed.
— DIY Author (@DIYauthor) April 30, 2016
You don’t necessarily need to go through an agent to get published. With that being said, there are certain factors that you’ll need to think about when you’re trying to get a fiction book proposal accepted. Is there going to be the potential for significant commercial value for this novel? Do you want to have your work published by one of the larger publishing houses in the world today? Do you need the negotiating expertise an agent will provide?
If your answer is in the affirmative for any of the questions above, then you’re going to want to take your fiction book proposal through an gent. Independent presses or regional publishers may not require an agent, but you’ll also have limited influence as an author going through those outlets.
Submit your proposal based on the instructions provided. If a literary agent or publisher is accepting fiction book proposals, then they will give you the specific instructions they want you to follow for submission. You might be asked to send a query letter or email before sending the formal proposal, so make sure you do so if that is required. Skipping any step in this process will increase the chances of a rejection letter coming back your way.
Be confident. If you’re already writing about the subject materials of your fiction book online, like through a blog, then include this information. Be confident about your skills as a writer. Give specific details about how you can further market your manuscript if accepted and discuss what successes you’ve got going on already. You will always be your best asset and the best fiction book proposals recognize this fact.
Knowing how to write a fiction book proposal is less about business and marketing and more about following instructions. If you can follow these tips and make sure you don’t skip any submission guidelines, then you’ll be taking the first steps on your journey toward becoming a published author.
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