What is a book proposal and do you need one?
A book proposal is only necessary if you plan to pitch your book to a traditional publisher. However, the exercise of creating a book proposal is valuable, even for authors who self-publish. Creating a book proposal will help you:
👉 Refine the structure of your book and build a better outline.
👉 Identify your ideal audience and communicate with them.
👉 Plan out your marketing and promotion.
👉 Create content that will be useful for your book cover, introduction, Amazon listing, and marketing.
👉 Write a better book.
And if you change your mind and want to pursue traditional publishing, you’ll be ready.
WHY DO PUBLISHERS WANT PROPOSALS?
A book proposal is a business plan for your book. The publisher is an investor and wants to maximize profit and minimize risk. Your job is to show them the return on investment is virtually guaranteed.
The publishers may spend tens of thousands of dollars to produce your book. Costs include editing, typesetting, and cover design, and that’s before an advance to the author. Additionally, publishers have thousands of books to choose from, but limited bandwidth. If they choose your book, they have to say “No” to another. It’s not enough for your book to seem like it will do well, your book proposal needs to make it look like your book will do better than any other alternative and the publisher would be an idiot to pass up the opportunity.
Thankfully, you have someone on your side to help you with your pitch, and that’s your literary agent. In fact, publishers don’t even accept book proposals unless they come through an agent. This means your proposal is as much a tool to find the right agent as it is to find the right publisher. In exchange for a 15% commission on your book advance and royalties, an agent helps you get the best deal. They also manage problems that may arise during your relationship with the publisher.
In order to find an agent, you’ll need to write a query letter in addition to a book proposal. The purpose of the query letter is to get the agent to read your proposal. Although the query is what an agent or publisher will read first, it should be crafted after your book proposal. If you decide you want to pursue traditional publishing and need to write a query letter, read the 12th chapter of [the now infamous] Jane Friedman’s excellent book The Business of Being a Writer.
If you want to write your own book proposal, get the aptly-named How to Write a Book Proposal by Jody Rein and Michael Larsen.
You can also hire someone to write your proposal for you, but it can cost as much as $25K.
Or…you can self publish and not worry about any of this 😁
Questions? Comment below.
My name is Josh.
I help entrepreneurs write books to grow their businesses.
Liked this post? Want to see more? Subscribe to my email newsletter.Liked it? Share it!