How to Craft a Winning Book Proposal

So you’ve written a book, or have an idea that you think you could turn into a best-seller. Now what?

In order to spark the interest of a publisher, you’ll need a convincing book proposal. The book proposal is a lot like a business plan for your book, showcasing its merits. It defines the core readership of the book, both in type and scope; presents a comprehensive review of the key themes, story arc and raison d’être; paints a compelling picture of the publishers’ new partner—you; evaluates the market environment in which the book will compete; and offers a strategy through which you believe the book can best be sold, with you as a central player.

In short, a book proposal should describe your platform as an author (what you’ve published, what you bring to the audience in terms of appeal, etc.) and outline the marketing plan and competitive landscape for the book.

Here are the sections that usually make up our book proposals:

  • Overview of the Book (describes the main themes, the “hook”, any key structural aspects)
  • About the Author (describes with author’s expertise of the subject and/or experience as an author)
  • About the Market (describes the audience, being as quantiative as possible)
  • About the Competition (describes other books out there that are similar and characterizes how this book compares and why)
  • Table of Contents
  • Chapter Summaries (1-2 paragraphs describing each chapter of the book)
  • Sample Chapters (full chapters taken from the book).

Proposal requirements vary from publisher to publisher, but these sections are nearly always asked for. If you’re a first-time author writing a children’s book, cook book, fictional work, or photo book, the publisher is likely to want to see a nearly completed book rather than just some sample chapters.

For a sample book proposal, click here.

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