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Three Things to Include in a Book Proposal

Three Things to Include in a Book Proposal

Fab Giovanetti

One of the hardest things about signing a book deal is having to wait to share the good news about your book proposal deal with the world. Obviously, aside from getting a book deal in the first place.

What you may see here is an incredibly excited human who signed a book deal with her dream publisher – and you may have mixed feelings about this. You may believe in self-publishing (which I have done for my first book, seeking the support from a small company that would support me with the “logistics” of publishing, whilst I kept all of my royalties and had no advance).

You may be very sceptical about publishers these days.

I find this is a very individual topic that requires you to ask yourself what you think can help you the most: would you be looking for the support of someone that can take some of the logistics, distribution, maybe even press off your shoulders? Or are you happy to do it all yourself?

I work as a consultant, a guest teacher for an online learning platform, I write part-time AND run a company with 5 different income streams on top of that. A great publisher that can give me what I need is the answer to all of my prayers.

And the answer came this time. However, this is not just an exercise in humbleness from my part. As the businesswoman I am (spending over 8 years negotiating my worth as a personal brand), I learned how to sell my ideas. If you are looking to be published by someone else that is key.

You may have the best book idea in the world – but if the time is not right, you cannot offer your own marketing and promotion, you still may not get that deal you want. Here’s why I wanted to share three things to bear in mind when you present your book to a publisher through a proposal.

Why you, why now?

This is the million-dollar question. I still cannot disclose too much of my second book, so I may use the first one as an example.

Make an Impact was born to support creatives turn their passion into a business. If I have to be honest, this may be a great example of why it was not as much of an appealing title when I pitched it.

First, the audience was too niche – it may work well on paper for you, but publishers are looking for a wider appeal, especially for publication. Something I learned with pitching book number two: creating a book that can be relevant for many will make you more appealing to publishers.

Once again, this means you may not want to a big publisher and may look to go DIY or go for publishers who specialise in a specific niche. In that case, even before talking about yourself and accolades, ask yourself this question: why me, why now?

This is how you should start your book proposal. Start it strong and make an impactful impression on the publishers by showing them you know why people would want to buy your book.

About your achievements

This part of your proposal is not just humble brag for the sake of bragging, let me be crystal clear about that. This is about explaining potential publishers what sort of connections and experience you have as a writer, and how it can help taking work off their shoulders.

Maybe you have an engaged audience, or you work with a publicist already. Not to sound too cut-and-dry, but the more you can do yourself to support your book, the more it will help the publishers understand how can you use your existing connections and achievements to support the book publication. This is also a great section to talk about any marketing you currently do around your writing, may that be through a Medium account, weekly newsletter or columns.

Anything you can tap into to rise book awareness.

About your audience

Who are the people you are trying to reach, and what do you know about them?

Let’s dispel a myth as well, whilst I am at it. You do not need 1 million followers to get published. Albeit having quite a big following through my company, Creative Impact, my personal audience is barely hitting 10,000 people (okay, it’s not peanuts, but I have had publishers shutting the door in my face before because of my allegedly low following).

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Your audience may be small, but how engaged is it?

As a marketer, my job for over 10 years has been to teach clients and students that engagement is much better than big numbers, especially if big numbers do not convert.

This is the time to outline your existing database (also a good reason to get started on that newsletter of yours) as well as share more about your relationship with them.

What do you know about your audience? What can you outline in your proposal?

Obviously, a proposal has got much more than these three elements, but when someone asks me to look at their PDFs, I find that most authors spend hours crafting the table of content (which is obviously something you need to present), but they tell nothing about how they are going to show up as a personal brand to promote their books.

Top tip: even if you are self-publishing your book, I challenge you to write your very own book proposal. Why?

This can be a great exercise for you to learn how to market your book, and what you can do to make the messaging even more appealing.

As I approach this weekend with the idea of having a full day dancing in my PJs to celebrate the big news, I re-assure you that with hard work and the right assets (and mindset), anything is possible. It took me 29 years to get there, but I eventually got my dream book deal. Nothing should stop you to go for it yourself.