Thursday, January 6

A Great Book Proposal

A great book proposal is a MUST for non-fiction and as important a selling tool as the query letter is for a fiction project. I’ve come up with a general outline for non fiction book proposals you might find helpful. There are several excellent books about writing book proposals so make sure you check out a few at your local library or bookstore.

The number one priority for a good book proposal is readability and that’s not just in your writing style. Be sure your printout is in a font size large enough for an editor’s tired eyes to read easily, usually 12 point. Plain, white 20lb bond, copy paper, is also important. Now you can concentrate on making sure your writing sparkles. Remember, fun and compelling beats dull and boring every time.
Let’s look at the book proposal’s basic format. Here are eight suggested headings to use:

THE OVERVIEW : The overview should include a very powerful opening statement or hook.
Example: "Can the simple addition of a common mineral to America's drinking water save millions from death..?"

Your OVERVIEW should go on to answer these basic questions, hopefully in one or two concise paragraphs. What is your book about? Why should it be written? How do you plan to write it? Why are YOU the best person for the job? If you had five minutes face to face with an editor to discuss your project, what would you say?

THE MARKET and THE COMPETITION : Now you get to use all that market research you did at the library pouring over Books in Print and all those notes you took when you interviewed the bookstore manager. You are familiar with all the books in your book’s genre, and you are confident that your book fits into a niche, yet is unique.
Example: "There is no better time for a personal biography of William Shatner. With the success of STAR TREK MEMORIES and STAR TREK MOVIE MEMORIES, interest in Captain Kirk is high. The TEK WARS movies, written, produced and directed by Shatner can be seen on the USA cable network..."

PROMOTION: What are you going to do to help sell your book?
Example: "I have had over 25,000 hits on my WEB site at [site address]. I will utilize the internet in every way possible to promote this book including web sites, user groups, list-serves and directories. I will draw on my extensive contacts with researchers around the world for the book's forward, endorsements as well as ad blurbs for the jacket..."

THE OUTLINE and SAMPLE CHAPTER(S): Outline is self explanatory. Just make sure these sample chapter are top notch, the best you can do. Send the first three chapters. Editors like to see how you handle the beginning of your book.

CLOSING STATEMENT : A book proposal needs a wrap up, a closing statement.
Example: "STAR TREK AND OTHER ENTERPRISES will leave the reader satisfied and happy. My upbeat biography of William Shatner will generate excellent reviews, translating into high sales and increased value as a STAR TREK collectible..."

Remember, you have to sit yourself down and actually WRITE the proposal if you have any intention of selling your non-fiction book. A good book proposal can help you sell your book BEFORE you write the entire thing. And don’t forget to keep your writing style fun and upbeat. Research the markets and get that proposal out there.