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How to Write a Proposal for a Book

Maybe you’ve already finished your book. Or maybe it’s only half-way done. Are you still at the idea stage for your book? Whatever the case may be, you’re ready to know how to write a proposal for a book.

The proposal is your way as the author to get involved with the marketing aspects of your potential book. The goal of a proposal is to capture the attention of the reviewer immediately and then show them you’ve got the chops to make this a successful business venture.

So here are the items you’re going to want to include with your formal proposal.

#1. Start with a title page.

This will include the title of your book, your name [and any other author involved], and contact information, such as a phone number or an email address.

#2. Give your book a hook.

Think of the book hook as the tagline for it. What is the one thing that you want people to remember about your story if you have to describe your book in one sentence? If this sentence creates interests, then you’ve hooked the reader into reading further into your proposal.

#3. Offer a new overview of your book.

You’ve probably outlined your story in 150 words or less dozens of times already. You’ve got the overview of your book memorized. Well – stop. It’s time to write something new. Every book proposal should have a uniquely written overview that succinctly tells the proposal reviewer what your book is about.

#4. Discuss what you see the market being for your book.

There must be a target audience for your book. You can’t just say “everyone” or “all women” and be taken seriously. Now you could say “all women in the 65+ age demographic who have been divorced at least once.” That’s a specific market that could be enticing.

#4a. Discuss how you can reach out to this market.

Identifying your target market is one thing. Being able to effectively reach out to this market to sell your book is a whole different challenge. Maybe you have industry contacts that you can use. Many authors have successful blogs with thousands of followers – that’s definitely a market outreach.

#4b. Discuss how you would influence sales in your targeted market.

People aren’t just going to purchase your book because they see it on a bookshelf. There has to be a drive to put people into bookstores or online outlets where they are actively seeking your book. Will you advertise on TV? On radio? On industry-related blogs? Stand on street corners and spin signs that advertise the title of your book? By knowing why people will buy your book, you can influence sales, and that’s what a good book proposal must do – whether it’s fiction or non-fiction.

#5. It’s all about you.

Now is the time to write about yourself. In a full book proposal, you may find that an entire page can be dedicated to talking about yourself. Yet the content here must make sense. You need to talk about your writing qualifications. Discuss the experiences you’ve had that makes you an expert in your current field. This may include your education, your career, or awards that you may have won.

#6. It’s all about your platform.

Now you talk about what you will do to market your book. Many authors here like to talk about what they are “willing” to do. Nope. Don’t do that. Use the proposal to talk about using your blog to promote your book. Talk about how you will score an interview on local radio. Get onto a podcast if you know you can. What have you done and what do you plan to do?

#7. Are there other books like yours out there?

Don’t spend too much time on this section, but do briefly review similar books that have been reasonably successful. A couple of sentences about each comparable book is often good enough.

#8. Then you get into the final details.

Be specific about your book’s word count. How many chapters do you have? What is the state of your manuscript? Then write a longer synopsis of your story where you take the reader of the proposal from beginning to end. Include sample chapters if requested or the entire manuscript.

If there are specific instructions you are told to follow, then make sure you follow them all to the letter.

When you’ve completed all of these steps, then you’ll know how to write a proposal for a book that has the possibility of being considered.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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