Introduction To :
The first thing you have to realise is that Book proposal is a concept for Non Fiction books. These type of books mainly cater to personal stories in real settings, be it biography, history, commentary,personal diaries etc. When you tell your story in the way you like it, then such work is nonfiction. However, non fiction books do not contain any extra elements or fantasy scenes. Hence, you need to prepare a case for the book, showing what you mean in a crisp manner. Thus, you need to send this book proposal or case, to the publisher for his read. Once the editor is impressed with the plan he gives you a nod to proceed with the book. You have to tell the editor why you have to see the book out. You shall have to sell the book with a short summary of the idea. This is Book Proposal in layman terms.
Steps Towards Drafting :
If you consider you work to be truly unique and original, you have to prepare a great proposal for it. An effective proposal involves high amount of thinking and research, and may take around 2 or 3 months to actually make. Usually, you can prepare a book proposal within 25 to 30 pages, double spaced, to properly give your idea. However, it is not a strict rule as such. You can still go for 50 or 60 pages proposal, considering your topic is a complex idea. Also, within the proposal you can choose to include a few chapters of the work, for better idea of the topic. The following are some ideas as to how you can prepare an effective Book Proposal.
Book Or Proposal Which Comes First?
For A First Time Writer :
- If you are a first time writer, then it can be confusing as to choosing between the two things. Do you write the book first and then draft a proposal for the publisher? Or Do you send a proposal for your idea, and start writing the book as soon as the publisher gives a nod.
- Well, there no correct answer for this. If you are a first time writer, it is easy to draft up a proposal and send it to a publisher. Also, you have a better control as to what your book is when you write down the idea.
- Further, you can include a sample of work in the proposal. Most authors do this to create an impact without putting much time in detailing the work.
For A Regular Writer:
- Here the case is simple. If you are a writer who at least has written a couple of books before this one, who know how it works. You have a much better idea of the concepts of the book you are writing.
- Additionally, due to your earlier books, you know what are your strengths as a writer, and where you are weak at. Then, you just have to prepare a proposal which offers your strengths as a writer, apart from just the concept of the work.
- Therefore, as you have a better idea of how you write your books, you can create a book proposal as soon as you complete your work.
Problems With Preparation :
You may have the best non fiction story to tell to the world. But, at the end of the day, you still have to sell it. And as confusing as it may seem, you will have to Non fiction books in much better way than Fiction. As per the study on Book Proposals by Rebecca Skloot, a reader is more inclined to pick up a fiction book of fantasy, love, and beautiful things, than biopics. If you are an author who is looking to give out his story, you will have to answer a simple question. Why should anyone spend money and read your story? Are you a great celebrity, or a sportsman, or a film-star, that people may get interest in buying your story? Or is the book speaking of history that no one knows or can know?
How To Over Come These Problems :
- The first step in knowing if your book can appeal to your audience is, finding an idea. Are you writing a book on fields of interest such as Management skills, healthcare or medicine, manuals of tasks etc? Then, you shall have to prepare a Book Proposal focusing on the use of your book in these areas.
- Again if you are preparing a book which gives you hundred ways to lose weight, you have to stick to the topic in your proposal.
- It is simple that you have to say what your work is about, but be straightforward and definite in your thoughts. A publisher is not expecting you to be a high-end researcher on the topic of weight loss.
- But, he wants you to speak to him in clear words and tell him what you have in the book. Don’t confuse or far reach on the publisher.
What Does The Publisher Look For In :
Idea behind writing a good book proposal is to sell your idea in an efficient manner. Therefore, a publisher needs to see that the book you are giving him, he can sell in the market to cover his costs. He is looking at making some revenue out of it, which will probably make for the publishing costs put in for the book. Having said that the primary factors that the publisher is looking for are :
Solid Piece Of Writing :
- Though, you may have an excellent idea for a book, you still have to write it. And in this, you have to write it in a manner that people can easily understand what you are saying through the book.
- Hence, too many technical words or high end vocabulary, will make the readers lose interest in your book quickly. This is particularly the case when you are a first time writer, trying to make your market.
- It may not be the case if you are an established author. Here, you have a set audience, which will pick up and read your books even though they may be difficult to follow.
- Hence,you may have to stick to plain English to convey your thoughts. This is what publishers look for in a book proposal as soon as they get one.
Amount Of Research :
- This criteria is specifically for authors of academic works. If you are looking to work on a book which is about self-help, medicinal practise, technology, business mantras, do it yourself types, then this is for you.
- You have to prepare the book in manner which appeals to both followers and non followers. Now, this is where you have to use technical terms only as per need.You can prepare a proposal on this criteria.
- The publishers look for the idea behind the book rather than definitions of say, medical terms. As far as they know, if you have to sell the book across various groups of people, the book needs to appeal to them all.
Journals And Story Skills :
- The hard thing is to tell your story without it seeming like a story. That’s what nonfiction is all about. In case you are writing a book on a life and legend of some person, you shall have to stick to journal type of telling.
- Journal is almost getting into the head of the lead, and seeing the world through his eyes. Most of the authors, use first person voice to get this effect.
- Though you are at liberty to create a story in a wonderful manner, see through your character, it can get tough. You need to live it.
- For you to do that, you shall have to feel and see the world as he does. Thus, you can show that as your effect in a Book Proposal. Once the publisher gets to know your idea, he will see the beauty of it.
Memoirs Writing Skills:
- An author can tell the story he wants. But, more often than not it is a story he is. That is the idea behind writing Memoirs. Memoirs, as we say, is a collection of thoughts the writer has about certain periods in is life.
- The narrative structure in doing so, can be wavy and unpredictable. Thus, he needs to be careful while giving the story a form and structure. As an author, you have to show this structure in your Book Proposal as well.
- You can perhaps give chapters of the life, yo wish to cover. Also, you can explain in simple words, how you see it as a worthy read by anyone picking it up.
- Think from a readers point of view. If you are not someone they know, your writing shall have to be as impressive as possible. The publishers, after all, are looking for that effect in your work.
Guidelines For Memoir Submissions :
Most of the publishers or agents, look to having your Book Proposal explaining your book. However, in addition to this, they may also ask you to submit at least three to four chapters from the book. This helps them get a proper idea as to how the book will shape up. They prefer this mostly in case of Memoirs, which are less clear and unformed. On their part, the agents or publishers have no reference points to check the matter with. However as a writer, you can still sell your memoir with a decent proposal in your hand if you are willing to check the below points :
Superlative Writing :
- As you can see, there are millions of authors who send manuscripts or proposals everyday to the publishers. The publishers can allot only so much time in reading them. The idea is to impress them as soon as they pick your proposal.
- That is to say; you shall have to get them to the right from the first word they see. If you are a first time writer, be careful not to push your proposal just like that.
- Thus, you have to first go through the book proposal and see for changes. Write and rewrite before it is perfect. As a good measure, you can employ an editor or subject expert to go through the proposal to tweak it. Then, you send it.
Unique And Unusual Story :
- The problem about Non-fiction novels is finding original stories to talk about. If as a writer, you are looking at writing about a world problem, such as health issues, poverty, populations, etc, you are joining millions others.
- As it is a common topic, every second scholar or researcher will have an idea to tell about it. Though it helps understand the concept better; it’s not much use to you.
- From a publishers point of view, your idea is not all that different. This is where you will have to show them better. Bring out a topic not many are speaking about.
- This is make publishers sit up and take notice of your work. However, if you plan to say a similar issue, try making the Book Proposal as unique as possible. As it were, original pieces of work sell more than anything else.
By Pass The Publisher Initially :
- As weird as it may seem, a publisher has higher chances of approaching you, if you don’t need him. To explain the idea, consider that you have an avenue to get your thoughts out, and have a decent amount of people supporting you.
- A publisher will look to consider your proposal if he has a good enough reason to do so. Simple reason is that you are worthy of printing. For an example, let’s say you are an online blogger with decent following. People know you.
- And they feel that you can come up with a book that they want to pick up. This adds weight to your proposal as well as your content as such.
- A publisher is more likely to consider your suggestion of a memoir if people know you. Being a celebrity helps here in selling your work quickly. Obviously, that’s what the publishers need mainly.
Literary Agents And Their Roles:
- If you feel that your book has a great commercial value, you may approach a Literary Agent. Now, a Literary Agent is someone who pitches your book proposal to many publishers for consideration.
- He ensures that you get the best deal for your book, for a small amount of fee. As it were, you can get a Literary agent for your work, if it is a famous case, issue, controversy, or a well-known personality.
- The idea is here, the book in your hand is creating a buzz while in writing stage. Thus, the publishers need to see a sample of the work before going forward.
- Of course, they can still reject the work, basing on several factors. This is why you can have Literary Agents to sell your proposal to some other publisher and ensure that the book comes out.
Key Questions Has To Answer:
Till now, the idea was to prepare a book proposal for the reasons as above. However, you have to answer the following questions which ask you why you want a book proposal in the first place.
- Understand this, a book project does not confirm high sales. Publishers show many examples of books which have great projects but fail to live up to the promise.
- Or even if they do, they do not make many sales. The following are some of the things you may have to answer concerning a Book Proposal:
What Is About:
Though you are the author of the book, you may have to respond to this question. What is the reason behind this book coming out? What purpose does it serve? The motives and intents. And even if it does, what are the factors of the book which are unique. What makes the book stand out from thousands of others.
Who Would Read It:
Who do you think will pick your work? What is the group which will most connect to the topic in the book? Once, as an author, if you have your audience in hand, you have to prepare a Book Proposal accordingly. Therefore, you are telling your publisher why your book will reach out to the public in general. What works best for you and where does the book has the market for?
Where Do Your Credentials Lay:
This question defines your market appeal. As a writer where do you stand? For an average person, who are you and assuming its a memoir, why does he want to pick it up? Even if you are a personality, what is there in your story that you want to tell them. Thus, treat your readers with unique original never before stories. You get to know what they want in a decent story. This is how you impress a publisher.
In Which Manner Can You Design Your Proposal :
Having known the importance of a proposal for a book you have, you need to see how it can be perfectly done.There are some guidelines as the one’s below, you may have to follow to give your book proposal a proper shape and form. The following section are present in every efficient book proposal :
Competitive Title Analysis :
- As you are the author of the book, it is only just that you come up with a title. Again, this title needs to be unique and perfect for the content inside. However, by an individual, you cannot use titles which are too confusing to catch the eye. Or too much time to bore any reader who does actually pick it up.
- The titles in this regard have to be crisp, to the point, and easily get-able. Also, as an author you need to see that the title is reflecting the content you chose inside.
- To help you in this regard, a few good practices are. Always come up with four to five possible titles for your work. Perhaps, ask for a focus group to suggest their ideas after going through a sample of work.
Presentation Of Titles And Metadata :
- Once you have taken up four or five titles as probable for the work you take up, next is finding metadata for it. Here, you have to provide for each, the title, subtitle, author, publication, year of publication, page count and format etc.
- Don’t try too hard to include as many details as possible. Some features are not desirable, like Competitors sales figures, etc. If a publisher needs it, he will go on to find it at some point.
- These help you present a strong case for your work, by telling the publisher that you did your homework. Also, you offer a view of that you get the market and are ready to take on it.
Content Requirements That Make Up For Proposal:
- The most important part of designing a good book proposal is through the content in it. At first, to make an impress, you can put up a summary of the content within it.
- This is a summary, and so, therefore, you can be as short and concise as possible. A good practice is to differentiate your book’s title to your competitors, and in a line or two explain it.
- However, be careful not to do it over, as a publisher only chooses a proposal basing on the content. Some nonfiction writers account for the title in two lines or so. This gives an impression that you know what you are talking about.
Availability Of Terms And Content Online:
- You may choose to use larger concepts and keep on explaining them, but this won’t serve any purpose. With the present age of easy availability of information, a publisher can look up the terms he cannot understand.
- You just need to hint at what they mean. After all, the Book Proposal needs to convey content or information, not just definitions. However, this is in no way stopping you from going with the serious talk you want to speak of in your work.
- You just have to control the urge within a book proposal. However, Community travel memoirs, research papers etc have no other sources.
- Hence, you can explain them within simple language for the publishers to know about it. The trick is not to overdo it.
Target Audience And Reader Market :
- Other major element of Book Proposal is to mention the areas you wish to cater to. You can do a bit of research from your side, and include your results in the proposal.
- However, make sure that the data you put in is verified or at least near to estimate. You can start off with a simple google search for the same. Mention sources always.
- Also, while you are mentioning your Audience, you shall have to be as accurate as possible. For example, you cannot use generic statements like, People in New York or US Population Census consists of etc. Instead of this you can use specifics. Say, you say 33% of US residents in New York etc. Give the publisher facts which support your work in a transparent manner.
Marketing Plan For Proposal:
- Another lesser known factor that goes into preparing Book Proposal is showing a marketing plan. The idea is simple. Why will the publisher go for your book, when you have nothing to promote it with.
- You cannot portray an impression that everything is editor’s task to encourage the book once he picks it up. Make your marketing plan, real and logical.
- You may show proposals like starting a website for the book, promoting the book through social media, spreading the word in readers and people of interest. Your channels or references.
- All the ways you can possible promote your book through. Also, you have to tell the publishers if you have any events for the book launch and even after that.
Author Bio And Introduction:
- If you have some previous Author information in sites like LinkedIn, you can use that. However, mere copy and paste are not good for a book proposal. You have to convince the publisher that you are an author of good repute.
- By this we mean, you shall have to change the author’s bio to match the content inside. If you are going for an academic research book, you may have to tell them how you are qualified.
- What makes you put out a book on a particular subject. How are you the expert on it? Also, to further the idea, you can also refer to your peers and colleagues, or any other papers who may have done earlier.
- Thus, you show the publishers, how you are a valid author for the book they have the proposal for.
An Overview Or Summary :
Consider this. Amongst millions of Book Proposals that an author receives every year, how many do you think he actually reads through. This is where a short executive summary of your content in not more than three lines, is helpful. In this you explain what the content and the book proposal is all about. However, you may have to sped some time crafting the best summary. Afterall, you are showing your books idea in not more thirty or so words. It needs to hook the publisher and force him to read the whole manuscript.
Chapter Outline And Index:
- A good proposal when it gets to an editor needs to guide him through the content quickly. For it to do so, you as an author, have to group your proposal into sections. An index is highly applicable for any book project whose word count is beyond 75 to 80 thousand.
- Now there is no fundamental rule for dividing your book chapter wise. However, best practices are drawing up a line after every 200 or 300 words. Having said that, you will have to ensure that the segments, include a separate portion of the story or work, has a heading and gives a line of what it is about.
- In case your job is short, and you feel that the index is not a great fit, you can still give chapter outlines. Since most of the book proposal is made in MS Word, chapter outlines are easy to insert. You just have to select headings panel and click on show outline.
Sample Chapters :
The fundamental concern here is how do you select samples from your work. One way of doing so, is that you look at your manuscript as three segments. Beginning, Middle and Conclusion. Out of these three categories, you just have to select the part which is Beginning. This works best if you are going for flow story kind of content. On the other hand, if you are working on content which is academic and non-flow, you will have to take a chunk which you think works best. While doing so, be ready to use your cards correctly rather than just the content from introduction page of your work.
Serious problems with Proposals:
Now that we have our pointers for good practices for preparing an active Book Proposal, let’s see what are the reasons by which Book Proposals and thereby books are rejected:
- The concept of the work is too general, and hundreds of books have come out on the same topic. Nothing new.
- The author fails to say what he wants from the book in a simple nonfuzzy manner.
- The Proposal fails at addressing the major selling points for the work inside. Or does so very vaguely.
- The proposal also fails to show any expertise on author’s behalf in dealing with the given topic of work. Also, in the case of memoirs, the proposal falters in showing why the book is relevant to readers all around.
- A proper definition as to how the book will appeal to mass markets is missing. The matter fails to speak on why the readers to pick this up.
- Approaching a wrong publisher with the right content. You may have to select a publisher who can cater to your needs regarding the number of prints, and the market he needs to focus on, or the genre of book applicable.
Behind The Scenes Processing:
- A good book proposal needs to fulfill certain author attributes. It needs to show that the author has a good grip over the subject talked about within the book.
- The major things the proposal needs to show is the stats and recommendations regarding the book and its author. This may include blogs, linking websites, social media accounts, email database, regular online writing gigs, podcasts, etc. which will help the book to pick up in sales.
- In terms of offline promotion – the book proposal shall include details of offline events. Offline events here includes speaking meetups, class and teaching facilities, events around the book in future, professional groups which help the book go to the masses.
- You may have to define an approach towards reaching influences, market gurus, and organisations for the book.
As we can see, a true book proposal can get you the distance. You can get a publisher to pick your material by simply making your Book Proposal speak out for you. However, as per the discussion above, we can safely say that making a book proposal is quite an art in itself. Our organisation will help you go through the process of Book Proposal with professional help. And let your book make the world greater than ever.