Thursday, 9 August 2012

Writing a Book Proposal

So far, the articles on this blog have all been about eBooks. But, if your eBook is selling, or, on the back of your eBook's success you want to try publishing your next book as a physical volume.

Now, I write non-fiction in the main (though I'm currently working on editing my first novel). So, this article comes from the viewpoint of a writer of non-fiction books. In non-fiction it is commonplace to send a publisher a book proposal even before the book is written.

Also non-fiction publishers are a little more likely to go for a book coming direct from an author. In any other sphere of publishing you need an agent to get to a publisher. But an agent will not pick you up unless your are already a published author. So there is a merrygoround of ring-a-roses going on where the author ends up nowhere (which is why eBooks and self-publishing are so popular for new authors).

Back to the book proposal. This is a very stylized document that gives the publisher an idea of the book you are planning to write, why you are the correct person to write that book and shows examples of your writing style.

A good book proposal is typically broken into the following sections:

1. Overview
2. Marketing
3. Promotion
4. Competing Books
5. About the Author
[5a. Describing your Research]
6. List of Chapters
7. Chapter-by-chapter Summaries
8. Sample Text

and you would actually start the book proposal with this list as the book proposal's table of contents.

Think of the book proposal as a mini-book and it shows that you can structure your work. It is also familiar to commissioning editors so they know where they are in the style.

For a good book proposal you need to keep to the strictures, whilst also allowing your personality and above all your passion for the topic your are planning to write about to shine through.

This is but an introduction and a taster. The next six articles on this blog will cover each section of the proposal in detail, so that following the advice given here you will be able to write your own book proposal that will sell.

The other thing to note is that writing a book proposal should not be onerous. After all you are writing to promote a book that you care about and for a good proposal this should come through.

I have added a new section to the 'how to write a book proposal' section. This is section 5a, about your research. This only applies to technical writers. If you are writing a technical book of any kind (historical, scientific... anything that requires specific research then you need to write about your research in your book proposal).

Of course, for most authors, to get a book promoted and published you will need a literary agent. I have also written a guide for how to approach a literary agent: Querying a Literary Agent.

On to the next part, Writing the Book Proposal Overview...

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