Since then I’ve mentored several authors through various parts of the publishing process, including pitching their book idea to publishers. Many publishers have proposal guidelines listed on their websites, so I suggest you start there first to make sure you’re presenting the information in the correct format and sending on the right day.
If there are no set guidelines, I’ve included my outline for writing a killer proposal that will make publishers sit up and take notice.
Start with the book title or working title and the words “Book Proposal”, followed by your name and any relevant credentials (such as your degree). On this page also include the date, your postal address, your employer or business name, contact phone number, email and website and/or blog.
Key selling features
Use this section to explain the key points on why the publisher must take on your title, such as what makes your book different to others, how it fills a niche or how you’ve already built an audience through blogging, writing or speaking about the topic.
Title and subtitles
Restate your chosen title and list three catchy one-line sentences that sum up your book.
Use this section to write 250-300 words describing your book’s premise and what makes the concept unique.
Explain your primary and secondary audiences, giving as much detail as possible to show you know who your market is.
Outline a paragraph explaining what each chapter will cover.
Go to town here talking about you. List your work experience, academic achievements, awards, association membership and leadership positions, any projects you’re currently working on and your current activity. By activity I mean how well known you are so include details of your social media profiles and followers, speaking gigs, media coverage etc.
Authors are expected to do most of the promotion for their book themselves so it helps to show the publisher you have a good handle on how you’re going to drive sales. Outline existing marketing opportunities where you see a good fit, plus any initiatives you think should be added to the mix. Include the media your audience consumes, social media, book launches (physical and online) and speaking to any industry or community groups or conferences where your readers will be. It also helps if you can give an estimate of how many people are likely to hear, see or speak with you as the publisher can anticipate potential sales.
Think about where your book would sit on the shelf in a book store and outline the title that will be your book’s key competitors.
Once you’ve put all this information together, put it into a neat format with bold headlines and send off to proposed publisher/s.