There are several ways to create a book proposal, but before starting to assemble yours, remember, in a sense, this is your job application. Present yourself as a professional and let your idea and your writing speak for themselves. Directions below are to guide you so your submission will be engaging, complete, and follow industry standards. Instead of obsessing over minor details, follow the standard and let the focus be where it belongs: on your sample chapters! Please read everything below and note the difference between nonfiction and fiction proposals.
Your non-fiction book proposal should include the following:
Your qualifications to write on this topic and a list of your writing experience and educational/career background. If you have published previously, what are the titles and approximate sales to date of your books? This is a critical part of a description of potential marketing channels to which you have access (e.g., contacts you have in key organizations, groups you speak to regularly, key people you know who might endorse your book, etc.). A listing of other books available that are similar to yours and a brief explanation of how yours is both different and/or better. A brief profile of your reader with a clear explanation of the problem he or she faces and how your book provides a solution. Also, list any additional audiences you expect your book will attract. A half page to one page overview of your book including (a) an identification of its uniqueness (the distinguishing “hook” that will draw your reader in. What will motivate a person to pick up your book?) and (b) what you hope to accomplish in the way of transformation in the life of the reader.
Create a 75 word summary of the book. Imagine that this is what will go on the back cover of the book.
A one-sentence summary of your book: non-fiction proposal as it addresses the issue of “Platform.” (If you are unclear what “platform” is, listen to the one hour interview with Michael Hyatt on the topic over at The Christian Writers Institute.)
A chapter-by-chapter annotated outline that clearly summarizes the overall content and key ideas of each chapter:
The projected word length of the manuscript:
Expected completion date of the manuscript:
Three sample chapters of your book:
Follow the basic information above in the nonfiction proposal sections, but realize that the biggest difference between the fiction and non-fiction proposal is the synopsis. While the nonfiction proposal requires a chapter by chapter analysis, the fiction proposal should be a maximum of three single spaced pages that present the entire story. If your synopsis is the not your best writing, don’t worry. Just tell the story in quick form so we can know what happens after your sample chapters.
Create a Promo Sentence and a Sales Handle (these are the bits you see on the front cover of a novel or as a headline across the back cover. Also, create back cover copy that tells the story without giving it away (back cover is usually around 75 words)
Examples (from the cover of the novel Oxygen):
Promo sentence: gone desperately wrong – and no way out short of blind faith…
Sales handle: A tragic accident or a suicide mission?
Back cover copy:
Dreams turn suddenly to nightmares for NASA and the crew as an explosion cripples the spacecraft on the outward voyage. The crew’s survival depends on complete trust in one another – but is one of the four a saboteur?
In the year 2012 Valkerie Jansen, a young microbial ecologist, is presented with an amazing opportunity to continue her research as a member of the NASA corps of astronauts. When a sudden resignation opens the door for her to be a part of a mission to Mars, her life dream becomes a reality.
Since fiction can be entertaining and taps the emotional center of a reader here are some other helpful things to include in your proposal:
In a single sentence, state your purpose for writing this novel. Why did you write (are you writing) this story? What are you trying to prove about life with this story?
Describe your protagonist’s quest. What does he want or need? What is his goal? For what does he desire?
What is at stake in this story? If your protagonist doesn’t attain his goal, so what? Why does it matter and why should the reader care? What are the consequences?
What is the “take away value” of the story? How will the reader be changed for having read it?
***Please do not call to pitch your idea. We’d prefer to see the actual (PDF) writing first. But read the Guidelines page to see if it is something we are interested in pursuing.***