Sunday, January 22, 2006

Write a Book Proposal ...

... Even If You're Self-publishing: If you're looking for a traditional publisher, you don't want to send out your manuscript. With rare exceptions, publishers won't read it or even look at. Some publishers want to receive one to three chapters--so they can sample your writing. What virtually all of them want is a simple proposal that gives them a clear but brief summary of what your book is about and who will want to read it. The proposal is so useful that you should do one for yourself--even if you are planning to self-publish your book and before you get down to serious writing. The proposal will help you clarify your thoughts and help you avoid serious mistakes. Here are the elements of a good proposal:

  1. A Working Title: A good working title is "descriptive" rather than "clever" or "poetic." E.g., How to Make a Million Selling Widgets rather than Widget Goes to Home.
  2. A Working Subtitle: This should also be descriptive. If you've gone for a clever rather than descriptive title, your subtitle definitely needs to be descriptive.
  3. Summary: If your subtitle and subtitle are communicating what your book is about and implying who it is for, you'll only need a paragraph. If you need more than a paragraph to communicate the gist of your book, your idea may be too complicated to sell. Your book will be strongest if it can claim, with some justification, to change your reader's life in some way.
  4. Reader/Buyer: If your intended reader and intended buyer are different, you'll need to make separate paragraphs about them. In any case, these are the people whose lives will be changed in some way by your book. It will help your writing if you can visualize your reader (and buyer) as an individual, real person from a real place with real values, concerns, and needs.
  5. Table of Contents: Again, you need to be descriptive rather than clever. You want your editor or your reader to know exactly where they will be going in the course of this book.

That's really it, but, in a way, it's everything. The Publishing Pro, LLC

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