Home » How to Create a Book Proposal

How to Create a Book Proposal

Every book starts as a dream. But eventually it needs a vision.

This is the proposal outline I’ve used over the years with clients. Essentially, it’s a business document highlighting the reasons your book will have a competitive advantage. This is what acquisitions editors look for. And if you work with an agent to develop your book proposal, these 10 questions are the starting place for presenting it all accurately and in its best light.

I recommend finding a reputable freelance editor to help walk you through each question.

  1. What is the 30-word summary of the one thing your book is about—the unique, compelling appeal? (Why would anyone read it over other books?)
  2. What is the specific demographic and psychographic of the book’s audience? (“A 35-to-50-year-old mom with a degree who wants solutions for balancing discipline and love in parenting.”)
  3. What is your reader’s felt need, i.e. the big problem? How can you demonstrate and define the size of the need?
  4. How exactly will your book meet your readers’ felt need? What is your solution to their problem? Be specific. (Where will they be mentally, emotionally and spiritually after reading?)
  5. What can help prove your market exists? (stats, research, trends, reports, etc.)
  6. Compare and contrast the content of the significant competition in print. Find at least 3 similar titles and how yours is different and an improvement.
  7. Outline your writing experience and annual sales of your previously published works if you have any. If you don’t, include endorsements.
  8. Summarize your education, experience and career background.
  9. Explain your qualifications to write on this topic, i.e. what’s your platform (speaking, ministry affiliations, groups, outlets, friends/influencers, etc.), and share specifics on how you will promote.
  10. In 100 words, why did you have to write this book? What does it mean to you personally?

8 Responses to “How to Create a Book Proposal”

  1. Kurt Bubna says:

    This is great, Mick! Thanks for sharing and helping authors (like me).

    • Mick says:

      Kurt! It was awesome and an honor to meet you my friend! Thank you for all you did for us in hosting the Inland writers conference. Keep writing…

  2. How does writing a book proposal for memoir compare to writing one for non-fiction and fiction?

    • Mick says:

      Hi, Cathee! If it’s inspirational memoir, you’ll still want to answer all these questions just as you would for nonfiction or fiction. Reader benefits are essential, so be specific about how your story relates to, encourages and practically helps readers. You might also include info on how readers will be helped by the info, relational insights, scripture, study questions, etc. Thanks for asking!

  3. […] sell and publish books and I use a very simple form which is on the front page of my website (micksilva.com/define-the-vision). When people come to me for editing or coaching, at the beginning of the process I have them fill […]

  4. […] identify what you’re selling. My vision form can help a lot here (it’s free: micksilva.com/define-the-vision) by distilling your idea to the felt need it most directly answers. There’s always a “best […]

  5. Tammy Bhang says:

    Thank you for this very practical book proposal outline. I helped me to refine and narrow down why I’m writing, the question I hope to answer for the reader, and the psycho-demographic of my audience. Brilliant!

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