Book Proposals Made Easy

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This is part 3 in a 6-part series, "Your Best Book Now." Or "Everything You Need to Know to Create a Bestseller." Or "Breaking
Into the Publishing Sweatshop, er, Industry". This week's episode: "How to Write a
Top-Notch Proposal."

 

So, dear authors, you’ve got your 3 wheels, or 3 legs well
on their way and you’re becoming a
Perfect-3 Author. Next stop, the
proposal:

The creativity, craftsmanship, and care reflected in your
proposal reflects on your book, and ultimately on you.

Go ahead and write that down, but keep reading—there are 10
essentials to cover here as well….

There are a variety of proposal approaches that can work,
but job #1, your proposal should convey the uniqueness of the author and your
message. Show them both your understanding of that message and your heart
commitment to it, and like Psalm 15:2 says, they’ll know you are a writer “who
speaks the truth from his heart.”

So with that, here are your 10 steps to a winning book
proposal:

  1.  Summarize in 30 words or less, the
unique, compelling appeal of your message.

(Why would anyone care to read it?)

  2. Describe
the
realistic and specific audience for your book.

(What is the profile of the reader
who will likely buy it?)

When you’ve written your manuscript—and if you’re a
first-time author, you need to finish it before proposal stage—describe the
profile of the reader you wrote the book to (a writer without a royalty book
contract is a first-time writer).

  3.  Describe felt need—what’s the reader’s
problem?

(Why does the reader need this
book, and not to simply explore the topic?)

  4.  Describe how your message will meet
that need.

(What’s your solution to the
reader’s problem? Be specific.)

Ask, Where is this reader mentally, emotionally, spiritually
when he or she picks up my book? Where will she be after she’s read it? What
exactly will my book do for her? Why should she bother to read your book rather than someone
else’s?

  5.  Provide much support as possible to
prove your market exists.

(What stats, research, trend
reports, etc. can you point out?)

  6.  Survey the competition.

(What other books are like this
currently in print from competing publishers? How are they different? How does
yours differ or improve on theirs?)

  7.  Outline your writing experience.
Embellish as needed.

  8.  Outline your educational and career
background.

  9.  Explain your qualifications to write on
this topic and your natural platform.

    (speaking ministry, affiliations
with ministries, churches, other groups, endorsers, influencers     you have
access to, etc. And how will you promote the book?)

Bonus:

    * Find an influencer to write an
endo or foreword to vouch for the importance of your ms, and     put it with your
proposal. This can really help sway the room when your proposal reaches the
    publishing board.

   10.
Include a short writing sample of the work. (30 pages max)

Put all ingredients in a blender and whip until frothy.
Submit your shiny new proposal to your favorite editor at the next writers
conference.

You can do this. Yes, you can. And now you have no excuses.

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5 thoughts on “Book Proposals Made Easy”

  1. Excellent. I’m saving this as a word.doc to share with new writers in the future. Currently I’m directing them to your blog. Thanks for the instruction…

  2. Excellent. I’m saving this as a word.doc to share with new writers in the future. Currently I’m directing them to your blog. Thanks for the instruction…
    excellent tips! agree with that!

  3. Whatever it is, I’ll probably show up there, and so will you. In the meantime, I have writing projects lined up for, like, actual books, and they need attending to.

  4. Dear Mick,
    We spoke May 1, 2010 at the Orange County Christian Writer’s Conference. I attended your workshop. My manuscript is done and edited. You accepted my query letter because my proposal was still in construction. This project is now completed, but I find I have no way of reaching you.
    I heard you will be speaking at the Christian Writer’s Conference in Santa Barbara at Westmont next weekend. I am unable to attend this year, but would be most appreciative if we could meet for coffee while you were in town to hand deliver my proposal. If not, please advise where I can sent it via email (not as an attachment) or via mail as a CD.
    God gave me a gift I never knew I had and I feel led as He persists you are the one to give wings to my ministry.
    Trusting God in all things,
    Nancy MacMillan
    818-701-8888

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