Note to reader:
Your book proposal deserves your focused time and attention. It should be comprehensive, yet concise. The promotion plan is most important, followed by the overview and about the author sections. Take your time creating your promotion and when possible, ask others for feedback—especially fellow authors who have been through this process before you.
Also note that agents and publishers each have their own submission criteria so the format of your proposal may need to change slightly depending on requirements. It’s essential to do your homework and look for submission guidelines before you send a proposal out. Some may want a digital copy while others will want a physical copy sent via postal mail.
To locate reputable literary agents, visit the Association of Author Representatives: http://aar-online.org. We also recommend the book: How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen.
Book Title & Subtitle Here
Describe your book in the most compelling way possible. Keep in mind that you want to hook the reader right away. You can also view this as an expanded description of the copy you would use on the back of your book to entice readers. Comparisons can also help connect the reader with your story. For example, “this book is Eat, Pray, Love meets the Stephanie Plumb series.” This is typically two to five paragraphs.
Who should read your book and why? How big is the audience? (Insert statistics if available.) Be specific. Generalizations like “all men” won’t work.
Show the publisher that there is a market for your book by listing any current competing titles (published in the last five years or anything still in print for a longer duration). Include book title, author, publisher, publish date and a brief description about how your book is different or better.
About the Author
Who are you and why are you the best person to write this book? Include any qualifications related to the publication and promotion of the book, such as relevant industry experience, certifications, media appearances, etc. The goal here is to convince the reader that you are the best person to author this book.
Some agents and publishers go straight to this section so it is CRITICAL! This is not about what you plan to do, it’s ideally about the audience you already have. List relevant stats like website traffic numbers, number of social media followers, how many people you reach through speaking engagements each year, the size of your mailing list, number of podcast listeners, etc. Also note if you write a national column and how much media coverage you’ve had in the past and will get for the book.
If you have any big-name contacts who can endorse your book or who will promote to their mailing lists/social media audiences, list them here and include the number of people you will be able to reach as a result.
If you don’t yet have a platform, then list all the ways you will reach people. This can include print and online publications where you will post excerpts, tours, sponsorships, and any financial investment you plan to make toward marketing.
Indicate your target word count for the final manuscript (60,000 words is about average) and how many months you need to complete the manuscript. For example: The completed manuscript will be 65,000 words and will be delivered in full within 90 days of receiving a publishing agreement. (Nonfiction manuscripts do not need to be complete before pitching!)
Table of Contents
Include a comprehensive TOC that describes the complete book and the benefits of each section/chapter.
You should typically include at least two polished and proofread chapters from the book.
If you like this blog post, you’ll love our Author Toolkit for traditional publishing. It includes checklists, templates, worksheets and more. Check it out!
Dear Ms. Stephanie Chandler,
Thank you for the information on writing the “Book Proposal”. I have written a manuscript on the participation of the Mexican American participation in the political and economic changes of Southern California and its effect on the State of California and the US Political climate. Its original intention was motivational for the Mexican American population of the US Southwest, but the result has been nationwide since the 2020 election when they voted and affected the swing states. I am having to do some rewrites and your template with descriptions is most helpful.