- "How to Write a Book Proposal – And Why You Should Even if You Plan to Self-Publish" by Stephanie Chandler
- "Why the New Year is a Great Time to Launch Your Book Publicity Campaign" by Corinne Liccketto
How to Write a Book Proposal – And Why You Should Even if You Plan to Self-Publish
by Stephanie Chandler
A book proposal is required when pitching a manuscript to literary agents or editors in pursuit of landing a traditional book deal. Similar to a business plan for an entrepreneur, writing a book proposal forces the author to dig in and do some important research while also planning the details of the book.
Though you can certainly self-publish a book without a proposal, this is where many new authors make some big mistakes when releasing their first books. Writing a proposal helps you differentiate your work from the competition, identify a need in the market for your materials, develop marketing plans, and create a concise and compelling manuscript.
Elements of a Book Proposal
An overview is typically two pages, summarizing the book, the market demand, and why you’re the best person to write the book. Even though it’s the first section in a book proposal, I usually write the overview last because it is a summary of the rest of the elements of the proposal.
This is a compelling summary of your book, typically two or three pages long. It should hook the reader and compel him to want to read more. You can also view this as an extended version of the sales copy used on the book jacket. If you’re pursuing an agent or editor, this is where you can really get their attention. The exercise of writing the synopsis helps you position your book as a must-read, while developing key talking points about why your book is great. (And it is great, right? If not, then use this opportunity to go back to work and make it great!)
3) Market Demand
Here is the place to identify your specific target audience. Better yet, quantify that market. Look for statistics on how many potential readers are out there. For example, if you have written a business book for women, find stats on how many women business owners are in the U.S.
4) Competitive Analysis
Identify five or more books that are potential competitors of your book and explain in detail how your book is different or better than each title. There are many benefits to this exercise. First, competing titles demonstrate that there is a need in the market for your subject matter. Second, this is where you can focus on differentiation for your book. You will want to understand the competition so that you can ensure that your book stands out. If you do nothing else, make sure you spend time analyzing the competition so that you can answer the question, “How is your book different from the rest?”
5) Marketing Plan
Every author needs a marketing plan, which should be in motion long before the book is in print. Agents and editors look for authors with a “platform,” which means that the author should come to the party with a built-in audience of people who are ready to buy the book. A platform can include speaking to thousands of people each year, running a high-traffic blog or website, maintaining a large mailing list (thousands of people) or having other networks that can generate impressive book sales.
Another important consideration is that agents don’t want to see what you will do, they want to see what are doing–the marketing efforts you’re making long before the book becomes reality. And remember, even if you’re self-publishing, there is an important lesson here. If you want your books to sell, you should begin building your audience early. Book marketing requires ongoing effort. Some tactics to consider for your marketing plan include blogging, social media engagement, professional speaking, writing articles, working with joint venture partners, building a mailing list, conducting media interviews, and spending time in communities where your target audience can be found.
6) Chapter Outline
Even if your manuscript is still in progress, a solid chapter outline demonstrates the flow of the book and the materials covered. Below each chapter heading, include a brief synopsis of the content within the chapter. A chapter outline should have a logical flow of information with compelling chapter titles.
7) About the Author
Here is where you should convince the reader that you are the right person to write this book. This should not be an extended biography about where you grew up and what schools you attended–unless these details are relevant to the book. Instead, it should focus on your experience as it relates to your book. Mention any previous media coverage you have received or involvement in any groups or associations that reach your target audience.
8 ) Sample Chapters
When reviewing non-fiction books, most agents and editors want to see two or three sample chapters. These don’t need to be in order, but they should represent your best work.
The truth is that writing a book proposal is hard work, but the exercise of doing so will inevitably help prepare you for success–whether you plan to pursue a traditional book contract of self-publish your work.
Stephanie Chandler is the author of several books including Booked Up! How to Write, Publish, and Promote a Book to Grow Your Business, From Entrepreneur to Infopreneur: Make Money with Books, eBooks and Information Products, and The Author’s Guide to Building an Online Platform: Leveraging the Internet to Sell More Books. Stephanie is also founder and CEO of http://AuthorityPublishing.com, which specializes in custom publishing for non-fiction books, and http://BusinessInfoGuide.com, a directory of resources for entrepreneurs. A frequent speaker at business events and on the radio, she has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, BusinessWeek, Inc.com, Wired magazine, and many other media outlets.
Why the New Year is a Great Time to Launch Your Book Publicity Campaign
by Corinne Liccketto
The holiday buzz has just about dissipated…finally! Now it’s time to take the planning for your book publicity campaign seriously. You’ve put in all the work and research into writing, editing, publishing, and distributing your book; however, if you do not work to bring awareness to your title, people will not know that it even exists. So why is the New Year a great time to launch your publicity campaign?
Media are people too! Just like many of us take off from work around the holidays, producers, editors, freelancers, reviewers, and other media personnel are no different. Now that the holidays are over, media are back at their desk and looking for fresh news stories to incorporate into their broadcast programs and print publications. By introducing your book to the media early in 2012, you'll increase your chances of being noticed and setting yourself apart from your competition.
Summer reading. Do you envision your book being the perfect 2012 summer beach read? If you do, the time to start pitching your book for summer review inclusion is no later than March. By researching the best promotional plan for your book now, you’ll be set to start soliciting reviews when the time is right.
Awareness months, weeks and days. January, February, March, and April are chock full of calendar events that may provide a news tie-in for you and your book. It’s not too soon to start thinking about graduation season, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day angles for your work. By starting a campaign in January, you’ll have the opportunity to pitch your book for some of the short and long-lead news tie-ins, which will increase your chance for placement.
- January: Women’s Self-Empowerment Week (1st week in January); Thyroid Awareness Month; National Mentoring Month; Financial Wellness Month; Cervical Cancer Awareness Month; Family Fit Lifestyle Month; and more!
- February: American Heart Month; Women’s Heart Health Week (1st week in February); Black History Month; Valentine’s Day (February 14); National Time Management Month; National Parent Leadership Month; Youth Leadership Month; and more!
- March: National Optimism Month;National Nutrition Month;National Women’s History Month; National Sleep Awareness Week (March 7-13); International Women’s Day (March 8); American Red Cross Month; Youth Violence Prevention Week (last week in March); Irish-American Heritage Month; National Ethics Awareness Month; and more!
- April: National Stress Awareness Month; National Public Health Week (1st week of April); National Autism Awareness Month; Earth Day (April 22); Sexual Assault Awareness Month; National Child Abuse Prevention Month; Alcohol Awareness Month; and more!
If you're interested in more information about our book publicity services, please let us know!
About Smith Publicity
Beginning in 1997, Smith Publicity has evolved from a one-person operation run from a bedroom office to one of the leading promotional firms in the industry. Fueled by a passion for making good things happen for clients, we’ve worked with over 1,000 individuals and companies—from authors and entrepreneurs to publicly-held companies and business— representing a wide range of industries. The Smith Publicity reach is international; we’ve effectively worked with clients throughout the United States, Canada, the U.K., and from Australia to Israel and Malta. We have offices in New Jersey, New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto and London.
While our expansion from boutique publicity agency to a multi-faceted public relations firm has greatly expanded the breadth of our services, the fundamental driving force behind everything we do is superior presentation, promotion, and positioning of our clients. Our refrain, “make good things happen for clients,” has propelled Smith Publicity from just another agency to a premier promotional firm offering outstanding, cost-effective service with unparalleled customer attention.
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