Goldilocks Methodology/Process Nonfiction Book Proposal Overview Section

The following components are what Goldilocks uses to craft your Nonfiction Book Proposal Overview Section and it must do the heavy lifting for your entire proposal. You must convince your literary agents or publishers that they should take your book manuscript seriously and move it forward toward publishing it for the world to see and consume.

Simply click/tap on each component and be transported further down this page where you will see a full explanation of the elements that comprise each of these components.

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Introduction to Your Nonfiction Book Proposal Overview

Once literary agents or publishers flip past the Cover/Title Page, they want to know what your book is about. This Overview Section of your Nonfiction Book Proposal presents the reasons why your book is needed in the market place. It may state facts and figures regarding wholes in your particular niche that you believe your book will fill. This is the Section that will initially sell literary agents or publishers on the topic of your manuscript.

Goldilocks likes to write this Overview last and it needs to sing and present a water-tight business case. Think of it as the Executive Summary of any technical business paper.

The start of your proposal Overview is where you present your “hook.” And is followed by

a strong, short description of the premise of your book and what makes it stand out. With any luck, it’ll lure your agent into reading the rest of your book proposal, and then you continue on to explain the rest of your manuscript, but be sure you’re making it clear what you’re selling.

If the main point of your book is buried in a long paragraph instead of right up front, your literary agent is likely to pass on it.

Provide some amplifying paragraphs about what information or guidance you will give to your readers and how you plan to deliver it. Where appropriate, phrase these as selling points. Give a brief explanation of why you are especially qualified to write this book (detail will follow in your Author Biography Section).

Now you can see how much information should be in the Overview Section of your Nonfiction Book Proposal.  Let’s take a look at each of these components in greater detail and give examples of each…

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The Overview starts with a “hook”!

Your Hook is a one-sentence summary of your book. It must contain the title and it should summarize the manuscript concisely. Another thing it usually contains is the phrase…

“The first book to… [Fill in the blank]”

This is because books that are unique stand a much better chance of selling.

Make sure it is a strong hook!

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The Importance of a Premise

This is a two- or three-sentence statement of the book’s basic concept or thesis. Usually, it identifies the need and then proposes a solution.

What is the problem that you are trying to address in your work?

Developing a good premise is one of the most difficult challenges of good writing. It is, however, absolutely vital.

  • Without it, your writing will lack clarity and focus.
  • With it, your composition is more likely to be strong and forceful.

It is well worth investing the time necessary to compose a strong premise.

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Unique Selling Proposition

Now that you have a premise, you need to focus on how your readers will benefit from consuming your book. This is what publishers often refer to as the book’s

“Take away” value, what the readers can expect to “take away” after finishing your book. It is sometimes referred to as the book’s “unique selling proposition,” or USP.

This proposition clearly identifies what consumers will gain by reading your book (the benefits they will receive) and how it will deliver it (its features).

You need to establish quickly why your subject is of interest to a definable audience and what your book offers to this market. Remember a book sales representative has an average of 14 seconds to sell a title to a bookstore buyer, and the editor in a publishing board meeting has only a few minutes to convince colleagues of a topic’s potential.  Try to hone the rationale for your book into a statement that is less than 25 words.

The simplest way to arrive at a solid USP is to complete this sentence (fill in the information between the brackets)…

If consumers in the target market purchase and read [name of your book], then they will [list the book’s benefits], because the book will [list the book’s features].

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Sample Premise and Unique Selling Proposition for a Nonfiction Book

NOTE: examine the structure of this part of your Overview Section and the use of capitalization.




What Parents Should Know and How They Should Communicate this Concept to Their Children


By Linda Odubayo Thompson



  1. Premise:

Most children will leave their home upon graduation from high school with very little training in money management. As a result, they are likely to experience many years of struggle and frustration. The purpose of this book is to equip parents to teach their children the attitudes, principles, and skills they need in order to enjoy a life free of financial hassle and heartache.

  1. Unique Selling Proposition:

If consumers in the target market purchase and read Helping Your Children Become Financially Responsible, then they will:

  • Understand what’s at stake in the financial training of their children!
  • Be able to pass on the most important attitudes, principles, and skills children must acquire before they can gain mastery over money
  • Learn Effective ways of communicating to children about money with examples and metaphors children can understand.

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Your Book Sections Outline

Because the book will:

  • Provide specific examples of parents who have succeeded
  • Outline a simple but effective technique for money management
  • Build parents’ confidence in their ability to teach their own children


Now that you have a clear premise stated and a solid USP, you need to amplify them through the development of a general manuscript outline. At this point, you don’t need a detailed, Chapter-By-Chapter Summary, (this will come later). You just need to be able to communicate the book’s overall flow. Your goal is to give the agent or editor reviewing your proposal the “big picture.”

NOTE: As a general rule, a nonfiction book should include at least three sections which will cover the following…

  • Description of the problem or need
  • Presentation of the solution
  • Amplification of the solution through concrete applications

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Sample Book Sections Outline for a Nonfiction Book

The manuscript will be divided into seven distinct parts:


Section 1: The Road to Frustration and Misery

Section 2: Five Attitudes your Children Must Acquire

Section 3: Five Principles Your Children Must Learn

Section 4: Three Skills Your Children Must Master

Section 5: The Envelope System of Cash Management



NOTE: Notice that the three basic parts are clearly identified as follows…

-Section 1 will describe the problem or need

-Sections 2-4 will show the solution to the stated problem or need

-Section 5 will amplify the solution through a concrete application


Next, you need to give a brief annotation for each of these Sections…

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Brief Annotation for Each Section in Your Book

Now that you have presented the major Sections of your book, you need to add a brief annotation to each, explaining in  general terms what you intend to cover.

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Sample Brief Annotation for Each Section of a Nonfiction Book


Section 1: The Road to Frustration and Misery

Many adults suffer significant financial problems and heartache. Much of the pain is the direct result of never having been taught the simple principles of money management. Parents have within their power the ability to alleviate this pain. To do so, they must teach their children the right attitudes, principals, and skills.

Section 2: Five Attitudes Your Children Must Acquire.

If children are to experience success in money management later in life, they must first acquire the proper attitudes. Five of these provide a solid foundation for lasting financial peace: diligence, thrift, faithful-less, patience, and generosity. A chapter will be devoted to each attitude.

Section 3: Five Principles Your Children Must Learn.

The principles of money management are quite simple. There are five.

-God owns it all

-You are His steward, responsible to Him

-Spend less than you make

-Pay God first, yourself second, and everyone else last

-Debt is dumb

A chapter will be devoted to each principle.

Section 4: Three Skills Your Children Must Master.

In addition to nurturing the proper attitudes and teaching the correct principles, a parent must also train children in three essential skills:

-Developing a budget

-Managing a checkbook

-Making wise financial decisions

A chapter will be devoted to each skill.

Section 5: The Envelope System of Cash Management.

One of the most simple, easy-to-administer financial tools is the envelope system of cash management. Parents will be encouraged to adopt this system in managing their own finances and they will then be given a scaled-down version of it for their own children.


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Manuscript Status

In this Section of your Nonfiction Book Proposal Overview, you need to cover some other details relating to your manuscript/work. These would include the following…

-Where does the manuscript stand, level of completion?

-Have you begun writing?

-How many chapters are finished?

-How many words have you written?

  • Special features…

-Are there charts, graphs, tables, illustrations, photographs, etc.?

  • Anticipated number of words in your manuscript

Generally speaking, each chapter should run between 4,000 and 7,500 words. In order to arrive at the approximate length of the manuscript, simply multiply

the number of chapters by the average number of words per chapter. (Most all word processing programs have a word count feature that will automatically give you

a total.)

  • Anticipated manuscript completion date

When do you anticipate completing the manuscript? In other words, when will it be ready to submit to the publisher?

You might want to set a goal of writing so many words per day, week, or month. Make sure that your chosen date is realistic.

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Sample Manuscript Status for a Nonfiction Book

The Manuscript:

Manuscript status: Two chapters are completed (both are attached to this proposal as sample chapters).

Special Features: The manuscript will include various tables and charts, designed to graphically communicate important information in an easy-

to-understand format. It will also include questions for discussion at the end of each

chapter so the book can be used in small group study.

Anticipated length: 75,000 words.

Anticipated manuscript completion date: Approximately three months after receiving a commitment from a publisher.

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Goldilocks has created her Methodology/Process for the next component in the Nonfiction Book Proposal process and you can go there now…

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Nonfiction Book Proposal Marketing/Audiences/Target Markets

Previously Goldilocks presented her Methodology/Process for composing the Nonfiction Proposal Book Components that should have been compiled up until this point. You can revisit them now…

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Nonfiction Book Proposal Cover/Title Page

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Nonfiction Book Proposal Table of Contents

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Nonfiction Book Proposal Cover Letter

Goldilocks welcomes any questions you may have compiling your Nonfiction Book Proposal and if you feel that you need help writing this most important document, just reach out to her…

Contact Goldilocks
E-Mail her:
Pick up the phone: 914-944-1474

Goldilocks Wishes You Good Luck with Your Nonfiction Book Proposal Submission!