Thursday, January 31, 2013

How to Publish a Book: Write a Book Proposal

This will not really be much of a lesson but more of a tutorial of how to write a book proposal. A book proposal is integral to getting the attention of a major publishing house and is what every editor or publishing rep will see before anything official happens. Think of it as a resume mixed with a sample of your work. The idea here is selling your book. You only have one shot, so make it count.

Here is an outline of a book proposal:

Cover letter: author name and title, and the agent who represents you at the bottom. Author name should be at the center of the page.

Pg 2 -

  • Sum up your entire book in 5 words: this will be how the book is marketed. If the editor is bored here, he throws out your proposal.
  • What's the hook? State the plot of your book in one sentence.
  • Brief Overview: Sum up the story's plot in three paragraphs. 
Pg 3 - 
  • Manuscript Details: Here you will describe to the publisher what kind of price point your book will be marketed at. If it's already been published elsewhere on a minor printing label, then it is here where you fill out the details. Here's a sample:
Manuscript Details:
  • Bookstore Section:
  • Book format:
  • Price point:
  • Book pages:
  • Word Count: 
  • Current Status: Completed
  • Special features: book club and/or chapter questions
  • Potential Enhanced E-book features:
    • Photos
    • Short video clips
      • Personal/Proprietary
      • You Tube clips
    • Website listings
    • Audio clips

Notice how there is and Enhanced E-book section. This is very important. With kindle this is where you would put the "special features" of the book that would make it special to buy online. 

  • The Market: Describe in 130 words what the market of your book is. I talked about this in the previous blog entry. I told you it was important!
  • Characteristics: The last section of page three is devoted to describing the kinds of people who would enjoy the book. It would include things like, "People who like The Matrix, Warm Bodies, and Sci-fi Horror." This section should also include a breakdown of the specific age demographic you are targeting. 

Pg 4 -

  • Author Bio: The big idea here is, "This is why I am important!" List notable contributions and  publications, along with affiliations to websites or columns that would strengthen your notoriety. Also, here you should list your education and your other books that you have published. This section should be at least 3 paragraphs.
Pg 5 -

  • Sales: What are the titles of your previously published works. 
  • Author Marketing: This is what you would find on the cover jacket of your book. Any book you read you can turn the flap over and find a picture of the author with a short blurb about who they are. Again, this is a marketing point so you need to make yourself sound interesting or like a big deal.
  • The Author's Tribes: This is where you list all the meta info for your internet presence. For example:  
    • Facebook Friends: 4,474
    • Twitter Followers: 2,791
    • Website: (# of page views/month) 1,700
    • Blog: (# of followers) 1,225
    • On-line columns or blogs you participate in:
  • Sequels or Future Novels: How will your legacy continue? Publishers really like to catch a good wind and serialize publications. The more you can create a universe the more you can attract interest in a publisher.
Pg 6 - 

  • Character Profiles: describe your main characters here in short, one sentence descriptions. Again this is your chance to show your possible publisher why your characters are interesting.   You should have no more than 10 characters described. 8 is an ideal number though. 
Pg 6 - (and beyond)

After this point, you should write a chapter outline for each chapter. Make it a small paragraph, and only describe the key plot movements. Don't bother with adding details that a character had a conversation with another character that was not plot related. The editor here simply wants an idea of where your book is going to go. 

Afterwards, you should then include the first 7 or so sample chapters of your book. If your book isn't completed yet, this is where you'll want just enough done to give the editor the gist of what your book will be about. If the book is finished then, obviously, you won't have to worry about that.  Make sure to format this section and have the beginning of each chapter at the top of the page.


And that's pretty much a standard book proposal sample. Generally you can find these proposals online. But I would say the number one concern here is making it look nice, clean, and not extravagant. No colored text. Be professional. Be a businessman! If you have any other questions about the publishing industry you can ask below as well. I'd be more than happy to give you a gritty run-down of the whole thing. 

Anyways, until next time class.


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