Planning Your Book Proposal – Our Top Tips

By on November 7, 2017
Planning Your Book Proposal - Our Top Tips - Writer's

An excellent book proposal can make all the difference when you are trying to get the attention of agents and publishers. Without one it’s likely that your book might be moved onto the slush pile without even having been read - and then the time, effort and hard work you put into creating, crafting and editing it, will have all gone to waste.

Writing a book proposal is not something that comes naturally to most writers - no matter how skilled they are. However, understanding the elements you need to include, what will make your book proposal stand out and what editors and publishers need to see to give your book a chance is so important.

So, if your book is finally ready to send off, don’t let it, or yourself, down with a dud book proposal - follow these handy tips to ensure you write a great one!

Don’t include unnecessary detail.

Agents and publishers don’t need to hear your whole life story. Make sure the information you give them is what they want and need to hear. If you get too flowery with your language or make your book proposal ridiculously long, become too conversational or add lots of annoying detail they have to wade through, they might lose interest before they’ve even looked at your work.

Know your story.

No one knows your story better than you. Therefore no one can do a better job of explaining what it is about. It might take you a while to get it perfect, but if you keep trying you will get there. The ability to accurately summarise your plot while making it sound like a must-read novel is a definite skill, but you can do it, and spending time getting this just right is absolutely critical.

Be engaging, not boastful.

Many authors dread writing book proposals because they hate having to talk about their accomplishments or even dare to pretend that their book might be good. However, writing a book proposal is not the time to be modest or coy. You need to convince the publisher or agent that your book is worth reading. You don’t need to make lofty, un-evidenced claims about it being the greatest story ever written but you do need to be convincing - and that’s OK.

Consider the why.

Agents and publishers want to know why they should consider taking a chance on your book - and remember, every book is risky, especially from a new author. Tell them why your book is the right book for them, why it fits in with their catalogue, why and what kind of audiences will love it and, in particular, why it will make them money.

Be unique

Only you can judge whether adding a little pizzaz is the right call. At the end of the day we all know the statistics, we all know that agents and publishers receive thousands of manuscripts to look over and it’s all to easy for yours to get lost in the stack. Adding something special that makes yours stand out might just be the thing to get it noticed - it is a risk of course!

Follow the guidelines

Last but by no means least, make sure you follow whatever guidelines are set out on their website. Don’t try to be smart or think you can present your proposal in a way that breaks their rules because ‘you know better.’ They’ve asked for it to be delivered in a certain way because that’s the most convenient and practical way for them. Don’t mess with that.

Remember, you only have one chance to get your book proposal right. So make it count!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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