Book Proposals

It was never easy for new authors to sell their manuscripts to a publisher — Chicken Soup for the Soul was reportedly rejected by 140 publishers (although they can’t feel any worse than the nine publishers who rejected the first Harry Potter book). Publishers can hardly be blamed for reticence — it was never easy to make money on a new author, and in today’s information age, it is almost impossible. As Steve Piersanti of Berrett Koehler Publishers explains: “The total book publishing pie is not growing, yet it is being divided among even more digital and print products.”

For a new author, the only route to a successful publishing contract is through an effective book proposal — one that convinces the immediately skeptical publisher that this author, and this book, addresses a need unfulfilled in the book market. Specifically, publishers are looking for manuscripts that feature innovative insight or methodologies from authors with extensive experience and, especially for the larger publishers, an impressive platform. A platform is the promotional base for the author, and is built on social media (including a blog), speeches, workshops, magazine and journal articles, podcasts and any other outreach to audiences who will eventually be interested in buying the book.

Book proposals are prepared before the book is finished. Unlike novels, publishers do not expect nor want to receive entire nonfiction manuscripts unsolicited. Instead, they want to receive well-crafted and convincing proposal that include:

In addition, most publishers will expect to see the following elements in each proposal, presented in the order in which they should appear:

Preparing a Book Proposal

Unless a manuscript is already completed, the most challenging portion of the book proposal will be the table of contents and chapter summaries. These two sections require that the entire book be structured, from the order of the chapters to the specific information that each chapter will include. Some authors will have a step-by-step that they can expand into chapters. Most authors, however, will find that converting the wide-ranging knowledge and ideas accumulated over years of professional experience into the rigorous linear structure of a book can be daunting. Chris uses his Build the Book™ methodology to create a complete outline of your book in just three consecutive days of brainstorming.

For more information on availability, time frame, and opportunities for publication, contact Chris today.