Each publisher seems to have a slightly different take on what’s required for a good book proposal. Most of the key elements are the same, but some are emphasized more than others. I think the best way to learn how to write a great proposal is to study ones written by others. If you’re already in discussions with a publisher/editor, ask them for a sample of one they really like. More importantly, ask them why they really like the sample.
If you’re just starting out though, take a look at what Jeremy Wright has posted. He was kind enough to make his entire proposal document available for review. Here are the three things I like most about what he’s done:
- First, it’s crystal clear that he took the time to do the job right. He says he spent 20 hours on it and I don’t doubt it. If there’s one immutable law I’ve learned in this business, it’s this: “Authors who cut corners on the proposal are highly likely to cut the same corners on the manuscript.”
- Four pages of competitive analysis! Again, another sign that he’s done his homework. Note that he’s not just spewing facts (e.g., title, author, ISBN, etc.) He’s going to the trouble of formulating opinions of the all the existing titles. The rightmost column of his competitive analysis table is the most important. It explains why his book is different. Remember your audience when you to this though… Jeremy cites an upcoming Wiley book from Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. I don’t buy into Jeremy’s claim that the Wiley book “will be strongly focused on form over function”, but I respect him making the observation.
- Marketing and promotional plans. Excellent. An author who really understands that this isn’t exclusively the job of the publisher. As I’ve noted in an earlier post, author platform has never been more important than it is today. If you’ve got a platform to work from, be sure to spell it out in the proposal.
Are there any other authors out there who are willing to post their proposal documents so that others can learn from them?