11 Key Tips For Writing A Successful Book Proposal

 from Author & Editor Christine Miller MA FRSA

Christine-Miller-1-2012As a published author, an editor and publisher with over 8 years experience, and more than 25 years in business as a consultant and business owner, I am often asked about the best way to approach getting published.

Of course, the┬ápublishing┬áworld is changing rapidly, and many┬áwriters┬áare choosing to self-publish. However, whether your book is launched into the world via a publisher, or you decide to publish independently, it is still a very valuable exercise to set out your aims and intentions and do the research on the marketplace┬áfor your book. ThatÔÇÖs where my expertise will help you.

Whatever method you choose, thereÔÇÖs going to be marketing and┬ápublicity┬áinvolved in reaching your readers, and in order to┬ácreate┬áand present your book in the most effective way possible, you will need to be clear about its content, niche in the market, and what makes it special and┬áworth┬áthe attention of your readers. A little time spent┬áupfront┬ácan ease the path, and gives you a vision and┬ástructure┬áto keep you on track through the┬áwriting┬áprocess.

Following this simple guide will help you┬áidentify where your┬áwork┬áfits in,┬áthen whatever you decide about your method of publishing, youÔÇÖve got a┬áframework┬áto┬áwork┬áto get your words out into the┬áworld┬áin┬áfront┬áof your audience.

Cover Page

A nice optional extra. It can look like a book cover, or just contain the bookÔÇÖs title, your name and contact information, and the bookstore category under which the book will be shelved (e.g. Health/Self-Help)


Write this last. ItÔÇÖs the executive overview. Short, no more than two pages double spaced.
Purpose: if the editor reads nothing else, sheÔÇÖll at least know what you have in mind. Ideally, it will be sufficiently compelling to make the editor read the rest.

The Market

This section shows that you have thought through the question of who will buy the book and why.


How many people would be interested in this book? Give demographics if possible, citing your sources. Show that youÔÇÖve done your homework.

Other Books

The competition: how many books are out there on the same subject and how your book will be different.

 The Book

Take as much space as you need to give the editor a clear picture of what you have in mind. You might write this with an eye to using some or all as the bookÔÇÖs introduction. Set the stage for what youÔÇÖre going to tell the reader, provide a bit of factual material (with references if appropriate.) Describe any features that will make the book unique.

Content Overview

Chapter by chapter, describe the contents of the book, one or two paragraphs per chapter. Give samples: e.g. if youÔÇÖre going to use personal case histories, make up a couple and put them with the┬áappropriate chapters. If youÔÇÖre going to use quizzes, make up a few sample questions. Indicate whether there will be appendices and what they will contain. Mention that the book will be indexed (if itÔÇÖs a non-fiction book, an index is a must.)

Book Length, Illustrations, and Delivery

For example: ÔÇ£A manuscript of about 95,000 words will be delivered within one year after the signing of a contract. Illustrations will consist of line art. Colour will not be required.ÔÇØ

Marketing and Promotion

The publisher wants to know that you will be vigorous in promoting your own book. Here you tell what activities you intend to undertake. Spend time researching and writing this section. It, and the one on the market, are the most important parts of the proposal, from the publisherÔÇÖs point of view. Show that you have the savvy, energy, and enthusiasm to make your book a success (even if you donÔÇÖt always feel that way.)

AuthorÔÇÖs Qualifications

Who are you, what have you written, and what motivates you to write this book? This is not the time to be self-effacing. Exaggeration is not useful, but an honest statement of your qualifications is essential.

Appendices and Supporting Material

May not be necessary. Depends on the nature of the book.

Provided courtesy of Christine Miller, Porto Publishing & Your Ultimate ReSource┬á┬® Feb 2011

To find out more about Christine Miller go to christinemiller.co