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By Lee Constantine, Head of Growth at Publishizer

 

One of the smartest things I’ve heard anyone say about writing a book proposal is this:

“You have to make one real human being — who happens to read a lot of books — like your book.”

One real human being.

Most authors overthink, and therefore, overwhelm themselves with the proposal. Which makes it a massive task. Don’t do that.

When writing the proposal, authors are often thinking about getting lots of people to read their book. That is a mistake.

*Remember, getting published is all about winning over one person — one acquiring editor at a major publishing imprint. Not the masses.

I’m going to break down the five parts of a book proposal and make it as easy as possible for you to start writing right now. 1,000 words never came so easy.

 

Part 1: Synopsis

(200–250 words)

This is the first thing an acquiring editor is going to read. This is where you sell them on your vision for the book idea. This is where you put your uniqueness on display.

Start by answering these questions:

  • Sum up the book in one catchy sentence
  • What problem or need does this book tackle?
  • Why is the message unique?
  • How will readers use it?
  • Who is the book going to connect with?
  • Why did you write it?

Write as much as you can with each of these answers and then put the paragraphs together. Now edit to make the idea unified.

Here is a great example.

**If this is a fiction book, then this is where you explain the plot.

 

Part 2: Outline

(50–100 words)

Lay out the chapters or sections of the book. All of them. Describe each one without giving away the good stuff.

You need to show how this book is structured. It should be very clear and organized. Never use all caps. For non-fiction, a couple sentences per chapter is a good idea. For fiction, describe the plot and then list the chapters.

Now go ask a friend if they understand it.

 

Part 3: Audience

(250–500 words)

Explain to the acquiring editor that you know exactly who this book is for. If you don’t know who this book is for then who in the world do you expect is going to read it?

Start by answering these questions:

  • Who is this book for?
  • Where are they at in life?
  • What are their habits?
  • Their lifestyle?
  • What are their beliefs?
  • Why is your book relevant to them?
  • Why would they read it?
  • Statistics are important to use here

Describe your reader in detail. If your book has a primary and secondary audience, answer these questions for each one. Back the statistics up by describing how they are relevant to your reader.

 

Part 4: Promotion

(200–250 words)

This is where you show off your platform. Publishers take into account your previous success. This section is very much about the author.

In an ideal world, you have a combination of the following:

  • Email list in the thousands
  • Social media following in the thousands
  • Professional website
  • Speaking engagements scheduled
  • Endorsers and corporate sponsors
  • Regular publication or media contributions
  • Community events you’re attending

List these and any others in your promotions and describe how you are going to leverage each of them to obtain a lot of preorders.

Publishers want to see a path to long term sales. They invest in potential. And the number of preorders you can attach to your proposal shows them how much you have.

You don’t need a long and strategic marketing plan. You need to show them how you are going to bring traction to your book idea.

 

Part 5: Competition

(200–250 words)

Show the editor you know where your book fits in the market. This is how they decide if your book will fit with their distribution — and that’s exactly what you want.

List at least 5 competing or complementary books.

The more the better. And then describe what each one is about, why your readers have read or would read these books, and how your book is different.

Do a Google search if you can’t think of any. They are out there. Grab the summary and then compare it your book.

*Here is a good example of a non-fiction book proposal. Here is a good fiction book proposal.

Cheers,

If you want help with any of these parts, schedule a chat with me here.

Read more about the innovative things we are doing with author book proposals at Publishizer.com.

The Shizzle

Musings on the future of traditional publishing

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