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How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal

Before I get into how to write a book proposal, first a little story. When I started writing a very small book back in 2005, I had zero idea of how to mould a book, let alone how to get a publisher to take it on. I got a rejection letter, tout suite.

This ignorance led me to self-publishing on Lulu, mainly in eBook form, which proved too easy.  Enjoying research, I soon wrote another how-to book, Sack Your Financial Planner.  Self-funding, I sold these through a sales page online plus a few sales to interested people.

My longwinded point is, there’s a possibility your first nonfiction book proposal will get a book deal. That chance is about 1 in 1,000… and sliding. That young man got a deal for Eragon first go, but that was fiction and what a talent!

Self-help is such a hunting ground, with fewer sales made traditionally, so most likely as a novice author you have a choice of independent (indie) publishing or hybrid publishing (paying some money towards production and marketing). Read more on the path of hybrid publishing here.

There is another path to publishers and crowdfunding as well, which is based in the US, called Publishizer. Check it out! Get some ideas from this.

The Brass Tacks: Writing a Book Proposal Properly

Even twenty years ago, after doing a writer’s centre workshop on Getting a Book Published, it opened my eyes to what work (and flow) is needed for the research and letter to publishers.

Novice authors believe that manuscript submissions are just about the content of their book, but promoters of your book want to know: how does it help solve a problem in the world? Does its sheer essence gather excitement?

Even if it is not used in traditional publishing applications, a Book Proposal has many benefits. It can help organise your activities. It can highlight a market gap, making it clear what small slot your book will fit into.

This work is also crucial to writing the book cover blurb and extended sales page.

A Non-fiction Book Proposal Template

Keeping you on your toes, a nonfiction book proposal template will help guide much-needed research and book sections. When filled, this document will lay out:

  • competing titles
  • complementary titles (not in category but has similar elements, such as a unique model)
  • relevance of author’s background and writing experience
  • past articles or papers, or mass media you write for
  • number of social media followers
  • speaking and email marketing to your tribe

In addition, Hybrid Publishers, funders and book distributors may want to know:

  • how you will promote this book, both physically and online
  • how many books you will order (get pre-sales)
  • your level of grammatical skill and any outside editing of the book, and
  • if you have constant marketing and activity (or will it be a 2-month push only?)

Do you want a book proposal template?

Since it takes a lot of time to compile book proposal and write all the pieces, it might help if you had a book proposal template all ready to go in Microsoft Word, right? I am putting one into our Book Writing membership.

Every month, we’ll add more ideas–and handy guides–for book writing, self-publishing, and marketing for authors.