WRITING A NONFICTION BOOK PROPOSAL – By Carol Silvis

If you are thinking about writing a nonfiction book, you need to consider more than the manuscript. Unlike fiction works, which should be complete before submission, nonfiction books are generally sold through proposals. The proposal presents a strong case for your book idea and will have a publisher take you seriously. In addition, developing a proposal will help you stay focused on the book’s topic and the market for which it is intended. How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen is one of the best books I have read on this subject.
Book proposals contain specific information arranged in an easy-to-read format. Some publishers have their own standard company proposal templates, which they send to the author. A typical nonfiction book proposal consists of four main parts: Overview of the Book, Sales and Marketing Strategies, About the Author, and an Outline and Overview of the chapters. These main sections contain subsections, resulting in a proposal that is several pages in length. My typical proposal runs between 18-22 pages.
The main sections of a proposal include the following:

Title Page
• Introduction/Overview
• Outstanding Features
• Market
• Competitive Books
• Complementary Books
• Author Promotion
• About the Author
Table of Contents
• Overview of Chapters

Title Page. Center the title and the author’s name. Type the author’s contact information in the lower left corner.

Introduction/overview. Describe the book’s (1) main subject area, (2) contents, and (3) page count. State whether the book will be part of a series. Answer the following questions in the introduction/overview:
• What is the book about? (3-4 sentences)
• Why is the topic important?
• What will the book’s angle be?
• What makes you the best person to write the book?
• What outstanding features make this book different from others on the market?

Market. Describe the market and audience for this book.

Competing and Complementary Books. Make a list of books that compete with yours and those that complement it. Give a sentence or two about your reasoning.

Author Promotion. Describe what you will do to personally promote the book.

About the Author. Detail your background, including your academic and professional background as it relates to the book, your publications, and your writing-related activities (e.g., member or officer in a writing group)

Table of Contents. Type a table of contents.

Overview of Chapters. Give a page or so overview per chapter.

Writing a proposal is a lengthy but necessary procedure if you want to increase your chances for success.

Carol Silvis is the President of Pennwriters and the author of Job Hunting After 50,  available on Amazon.com

http://www.carolsilvis.com
http://www.carolsilvis.blogspot.com

One Response

  1. Great article, Carol. Right on. Another great resource is Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write by Elizabeth Lyon.

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