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Book Proposals

A book proposal is a blueprint of your Work that shows the publisher what your idea entails. Imagine going for an interview with requisite skills but poor communication skills and a weaker CV. Will you get hired?

A book proposal will not only make you look professional but also increase your chances of getting accepted. This is important because a majority of unsolicited manuscripts get rejected by publishers.

Who sends a book proposal?
A book proposal can be sent by the agent to a publisher or even by an author to a publisher/agent. A book proposal is relevant for both fiction and non-fiction.

What does it look like?
It can be anywhere from a dozen pages to 50 but it depends upon the nature of the manuscript. A book proposal includes these elements: title, synopsis, table of contents, chapter summary, author bio, competing titles, target audience and marketing plan.

Why is a book proposal important?
A good book proposal shows a publisher the value a book brings to their list of titles. A book proposal should show the publisher how the reader will gain value from your book. If you are ready to prepare one, be sure to answer the most commonly asked question: what’s in it for the reader?

Although this question seems harder if you are writing literary fiction or creative non-fiction, it is even more important for you as an author to know the value your work brings amidst the existing literature or content on the same subject.

Should a book proposal have a marketing plan?
Many authors worry about a marketing plan in a book proposal. They are either still finishing or revising the work or are not ready with a plan yet. But the good news is you don’t need a full-fledged marketing plan at this stage. What is crucial, however, is that the publisher gets an idea of what the author can and will do at his/her end to market the book. If the publisher sees that the author has a platform as well as resources, then the publisher becomes confident in selling the book.

Can you prepare a book proposal if the book is still in progress?
A book proposal is ideal for books under progress. For fiction as well as non-fiction, you should have at least three chapters (not necessarily the first three), but these should be your best. Anything less, the publisher is unlikely to invest their time in your work. If you are sending it to an agent, please check with them as some may have individual standards.

Are there any must-haves for a book proposal?
Before you start working on a book proposal, you should ensure the two aspects mentioned below. Not only will this help you express with ease and confidence the need for your book but also gain the attention of others, be it a publisher or an agent.

1. You have a few chapters that are your best
You could even have finished writing the book but it is crucial to ensure that the chapters you submit are your best. Anything less, it will end up at the publisher’s slush pile.

2. You have done basic market research
The fact is that thousands of books are published each month. Hence, you must know what makes your book different. Try telling a friend why your book is needed and see if they want to know more or shrug their shoulders. What does basic market research mean? Fortunately, you don’t have to start marketing the book at this stage. Basic market research entails knowing what books on the same subject/genre have been published in the last four to six months, especially if you are writing something that is topical or commercial. If you are writing in a niche genre, then you can look at titles that are at least three to four years old. When looking at competing titles, look at these aspects: author profile, endorsements, length of the book, table of content and reviews.

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