A Book Proposal is generally required when pitching your nonfiction manuscript to your literary agents/publishers in pursuit of landing a traditional book deal. Similar to a Business Plan for an entrepreneur, composing a full length Proposal forces you to dig in and do some important research while planning the details of your book.
Though you can certainly self-publish a book without a proposal, this is where many new authors make some big mistakes when releasing their first books. Writing this Proposal helps you differentiate your work from the competition, identify a need in the market for your materials, develop a Marketing Plan, and create a concise and compelling manuscript.
Compiling this Nonfiction Book Proposal is the second step of three that you will take toward your final goal of seeing your book published by a traditional house, hurrah!
Previously, you should have sent a Query Letter to your prospective literary agents introducing yourself and your nonfiction book manuscript. You will then be very happy to hear from one or more of them wanting to see a full book proposal which will include a few chapters as one of its components.
If you haven’t sent out Query Letters up until now, Goldilocks has a Methodology/Process which can assist you in preparing this critical document.
Take a look…
If your goal is to interest one of the top New York publishing houses, then be advised that you will definitely need a literary agent and you will be asked to provide a Nonfiction Book Query Letter in order to be considered.
Before you continue to examine the major components of this Nonfiction Book Proposal, Goldilocks suggests that you take the time to thoroughly research your topic/concept before beginning to compose your Proposal.
Goldilocks knows that you are groaning because you don’t like to research anything, you just want to get your book written!
Here is the thing though, all the research you will do will be needed to compose your Nonfiction Book Proposal!
Goldilocks comes to the rescue and has provided a plan for getting this nasty stuff done and it is the process that she uses to help her authors get it all done.
Components of a Nonfiction Book Proposal
Every submission to a literary agent or publisher should have a Cover/Title Page. Remember that you are sending documents that are of professional quality. Think of your Nonfiction Proposal as an extension of your resume.
A Cover Page for your proposal should contain the “working title,” that is one that clearly depicts what your manuscript offers. Often, this title might be edited or changed by the publisher you are contracted with, that is why it is referred to as the “working title.”
Following this title will be listed your name and contact information (Mailing/E-Mail Addresses, Telephone Numbers etc.)
Goldilocks shows you how to format this Cover Page and gives an example as well…
Book Proposal Table of Contents
This should not be confused with the Table of Contents related to sections and Chapters of your manuscript. It is a listing of all of the components of your Nonfiction Book Proposal submission. It helps your literary agents/publishers to quickly scan your transmittal to see if it has been compiled correctly and worth moving to the next step in the review process.
Take a look at how Goldilocks compiles this document…
(Not to be confused with your Query Letter previously submitted)
This Letter is an extension of your Query Letter and provides a more detailed look at your manuscript and why you are the perfect person to write about your topic.
At the start of the body copy you might say…
“Dear X: thank you for the opportunity to submit a Nonfiction Book Proposal…”
The next sentences refer to what is called the “elevator pitch” which consists of a couple of lines that capture the essence of your proposed book. This is a concise and targeted summary of its contents in just a couple of sentences.
You will then move on to include a brief summary about the audience for your material, highlight your expected promotional effort, give some quick insight to your Author Bio and offer manuscript details (word count, estimation of completion…)
Goldilocks helps you understand the verbiage used on this document and shows you an example…
Here is where you will summarize the components of your Nonfiction Book Proposal so that your literary agent sees what to expect from the rest of your submission and it needs to do the heavy lifting for the whole Proposal.
It begins with a “hook”!
Your Hook is a one-sentence summary of your book. It must include the title and it should summarize your manuscript concisely. Another thing it could contain is the phrase…
“The first book to… [fill in the blank]”
Goldilocks likes to compose this Section of the Proposal last because it sums up all of the other components of the submission.
Here is what information she includes in this very important Proposal Overview…
Moving on to the next component…
Market Demand: Target Audiences
Here is the place to identify your specific major and minor target audiences. Better yet, quantify that market. Look for statistics on how many potential readers are out there.
This component should answer the following questions…
- Why would readers want to buy your book?
- What are their frustrations?
- What motivates them?
- What do they expect to get out of the book?
Goldilocks goes into much more detail about which elements to include and those to ignore when writing this Section of your Nonfiction Book Proposal…
Next Component looks at your book’s competition…
Identify five or more books that are potential competitors of your book and explain in detail how your book is different or better than each title. There are many benefits to this exercise. First, competing titles demonstrate that there is a need in the market for your subject matter. Second, this is where you can focus on differentiation for your book. You will want to understand the competition so that you can ensure that your book stands out. If you do nothing else, make sure you spend time analyzing the competition so that you can answer the questions…
- How is your book different from the rest?
- Does your book meet a specific need not addressed by the other ones you are mentioning?
- What unique prospective do you bring to your chosen concept/topic?
Goldilocks will show you what information you should include for each of the competing books…
The next component talks about you the author and what you bring to the table that positions you to be the one to write about your topic.
Here is where you should convince your readers that you are the right person to write this book. This should not be an extended biography about where you grew up and what schools you attended unless the details are relevant to the book. Instead, it should focus on your experience as it relates to your book. Mention any previous media coverage you have received or involvement in any groups or associations that reach your target audience.
Goldilocks goes into further detail about which elements of your history/credentials to include and offers suggestions about stuff that won’t matter to your literary agent/publisher…
Moving right along, this next component is crucial to the success of your nonfiction book in the marketplace.
Nonfiction Book Marketing Plan
Now, here is where the rubber meets the road. You will have to convince your agent/publisher that you will be proactive about promoting your book once it hits the marketplace.
Every author needs a Marketing Plan, which should be in motion long before the book is in print. Agents and editors look for authors with a “platform,” which means that the author should come to the party with a built-in audience of people who are ready to buy your book. A platform can include speaking to thousands of people each year, running a high-traffic blog or Website, maintaining a large mailing list (thousands of people) or having other networks that can generate impressive book sales.
Another important consideration is that agents don’t want to see what you will do, they want to see what you are doing, the marketing efforts you’re making long before your book becomes reality. And remember, even if you’re self-publishing, there is an important lesson here. If you want your books to sell, you should begin building your audience early. Book marketing requires ongoing effort.
As a reminder your Marketing Plan will answer these three crucial questions…
- What positive results does your book create for your readers?
- Who needs those results the most?
- Where do people who need those results the most congregate in large numbers?
Goldilocks offers a bucket of information to help you build this crucial author “platform” and you can find it in her…
Goldilocks provides an outline for constructing this very important Marketing Plan and includes instructions for each entry…
Next you will consider how your manuscript is structured…
Book Table of Contents
Explain to your agent/publisher how your proposed book will be compiled/structured. It starts with a Book Table of Contents, not to be confused with your Nonfiction Book Proposal listing which was a compilation of the components that makes up your Proposal itself.
Your Nonfiction Book Table of Contents should include both Section and Chapter titles in the order in which they appear in your book manuscript.
Goldilocks helps you to understand how the title of a section or chapter can engage or be boring to your literary agent/publisher…
Next, you will explain/annotate what content to expect in each Section/chapter…
Even if the writing of your manuscript is still in progress, a solid Chapter outline demonstrates the flow of your book and the materials covered. Below each Chapter heading, include a brief summary of the content within the Chapter. A Chapter outline should have a logical flow of information with compelling titles.
Goldilocks guides you through the process of writing these important Section/Chapter notes…
Now you show your literary agent/publisher the “meat” of your manuscript…
Can this author really write a lengthy manuscript?
The only way to demonstrate this is to submit a few completely finished and edited chapters of your manuscript
When reviewing non-fiction books, most agents and editors want to see two or three sample chapters. These don’t need to be in order, but they should represent your best work. It’s not a good idea to include either your first Chapter or the last one as well because they tend to be conclusory in nature
Goldilocks helps you decide which chapters you should submit to really show your agents/publishers that you can really write a great nonfiction book…
As you can see writing and compiling a Nonfiction Book Proposal is a difficult chore and one that usually is very scary to say the least especially to new authors who are just embarking on this publishing process for the first time.
Goldilocks has shown you component by component what is expected of you to create this Proposal submission. If you feel that you need a helping hand or just want to pass along the composition of this necessary Proposal, Goldilocks is only a click away and will help you with any or all of these Nonfiction Book Proposal components.
Reach out to Goldilocks NOW and take the worry out of getting past this step in the publishing process.
E-Mail her: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pick up the phone: 914-944-1474
Goldilocks Wishes You Good Luck with Your Nonfiction Book Proposal Submission!