This post comes from Editorial Director Janna Maron, who has helped guide several Winning Edits clients through writing book proposals.
How do I write a book proposal?
So you want to try to get a traditional book publishing deal. When you’re writing a nonfiction book, the standard operating procedure for most publishers is to consider book proposals rather than complete manuscripts. This could potentially be both good and bad news, depending on where you are in your writing process.
If you have an idea for a book but have not yet started writing, the good news is that you don’t need to write the entire manuscript before trying to get a publisher to pick it up. This route may end up saving you a lot of time and heartache if it turns out that selling your idea is harder than you thought. Conversely, if you already have a complete draft, the potential bad news is that there is more work ahead of you with compiling your proposal before you have something publishers are willing to consider.
Why is a book proposal necessary?
You may be wondering why publishers don’t just want to see the entire book right up front before deciding whether they will publish it or not. What many writers don’t realize is that publishers are in the business of selling books. So that means they are much more interested in the target market, the author’s platform, other books that have done well in your niche, how you plan to promote and contribute to the marketing of your book once it’s published—those are all the factors that will give publishers an idea of how many books they will sell if they do end up picking up your manuscript.