What Did You Learn?

October 9, 2009

Be Prepared: Proposals

Filed under: Getting Published — Tags: , , — ax20 @ 6:10 pm

For nonfiction, many places request that you submit a proposal. Proposals vary based on the specific topic and content, but there some general things you can follow. You want to give as much as information as you can to entice the agent/publishing house that your book is interesting and viable.

Format: Cover page with the title and author name as well as a picture if you have one, a Contents Page listing all the sections to come, and then the contents themselves. An overview of the book is a must. Always include an Author’s bio with any information that is relevant (so if you are writing a cookbook some information on where you learned to cook and if you work as a chef somewhere would be good information to include). Marketing potential, competitive titles, and media connections (if you have any) are great things to include if applicable. If they think they can’t make any money off your book, they won’t want to publish it or represent you. When writing about competitive titles (similar books, cost, how they’ve sold if possible), make sure to also write why your book is different than these books and will stand out. A Table of Contents and Sample Pages ranging from 1-3 chapters is helpful to allow for an idea of how the book will read and show that it is well planned out.

Check for typos! Make sure all writing is smooth and fluid. Even though the proposal isn’t the book itself, if the information feels dense, they won’t want to read the material.

Something to keep in mind is that the more prepared and fully detailed, the more impressive your proposal will appear. If you’ve done your research and put in the work, that will come through in your proposal. Agents and publishing houses want to feel that the authors are invested in their books. If they feel confident in the author they will have more confidence in the book itself.

(In the reverse, a poorly written proposal is a turn off and can bury a great book idea.)

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