Written by FriesenPress
Writing and publishing are like legs of a triathlon. If you don’t pace yourself, it’s easy to feel burnt out when it’s time to complete that final section of the race: actually promoting your book to readers.
Thankfully, there’s a helpful document you can create early on in the writing process to help renew your energy for the marketing push: a book proposal.
If you’ve ever wondered why so many authors seeking a publishing deal agonize over creating the perfect proposal, it’s because traditional publishers won’t give them the time of day without one. But every author, regardless of their publishing path of choice, should strongly consider writing a proposal of their own.
Here are 5 ways a well-considered book proposal can help you write your book and get you thinking about how to market it:
1. Finding the Right Title
Finding the right title is one of the most important marketing decisions for your book. Not only does it draw the reader in, but it sets the tone for your book and can even influence the reading experience.
And yet, authors often overlook the value of a well-crafted, strategically designed book title. Your first thought could be a really great idea, but the appearance of a good title and an effective title are not always the same. The book proposal is a great starting point to brainstorm possible titles and how they might capture your potential readers’ attention, build curiosity, and outshine the competition.
If you want to maximize the positive influence of your title, you should determine how easily marketable it might be with a thorough Google search. If there are books (or other works) with the same name, it can make it much harder to promote.
This thorough process of thoughtful exploration and vetting of your title can save you from hardship down the road with a book that’s more challenging to market than it had to be.
2. Distilling Your Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a concise and persuasive summary of an idea or concept — or, in this case, your book. It is usually delivered orally – for example, when pitching oneself to bookstores or when promoting your book during media appearances. But a strong elevator pitch can also translate to the crucial decision point in the bookstore if you hone that pitch into a great back cover synopsis.
If you treat it like a mission statement, it can act as a guide during the writing process. You can use it to reorient yourself when you inevitably meander down an interesting side road or reach a creative wall. One meditative moment with this mission statement can help bring you back to the main road and vault any barrier to reaching your goal.
3. Identifying Your Target Audience and Ideal Reader
Your target audience is the group of people who are most likely to be interested in your book, and from that you can establish an ideal individual reader who possesses a more detailed set of characteristics that more closely align with your book.
The book proposal is a chance to contemplate those target readers at an early stage. This is important to establish before you start writing your manuscript because its valuable insights will influence your book’s content and marketing strategy.
If you’re writing a nonfiction book about handling personal finances as a young adult, it might impact the complexity of the language you use and how you structure the book. Also, it might alter the type of book cover you create, as certain colors, styles, and fonts will appeal to different audiences.
4. Sizing Up the Competition
Much like finding the right title for your book, you need to research the competition to understand the current status of the market. In other words, what’s out there now and how your book will compare:
- Title — if you’re writing a fantasy epic and realize your story is quite similar to several titles on the bookshelf and it doesn’t really add to the genre, it will likely be a hard sell to readers.
- Cover — your book cover is the branding and packaging that represents the content within. If you have a sci-fi novel with an atypical cover style or that’s too subtle in the presentation of itself, it could make it more difficult to convince a sci-fi reader that your book is indeed what they’re looking for.
- Price — it’s important to understand the range of acceptable pricing for titles in the same category. If you find they’re typically priced between $13.95 and $17.95, you’ll want to work within that range for the best result. If you price too low you risk lower profits and the impression of lower quality work, but if you price too high potential readers may not be willing to take the chance.
Do your research and use that information to help your book stand out as a meaningful addition to the marketplace.
5. Determining Your Timeline
Establishing a comprehensive writing, publishing, and marketing timeline within your book proposal will keep you on track to make the vision of your book come true. Setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Based) can be a great motivator to maintain focus on your work, keep it moving forward, and make the necessary preparations in anticipation of the next step.
There’s nothing worse than being caught off guard and unprepared to handle a new chapter in the process when you’ve worked on everything preceding it so extensively. Imagine not having your marketing plan in place well before it’s time to launch your book — all that time spent refining the book’s content could have been a waste if readers don’t even know about your book.
Each of these aspects of a book proposal contributes to writing productivity and the refinement of your book’s promotional message. It’s both a guiding light in the darkest moments of the writing process and a motivational mission statement to help you fulfill the promise of your book.
A well-conceived book proposal doesn’t have to answer every question definitively, but the earlier you plan your literary journey, the easier your path will be to publishing a great book. To help you put together a great book proposal, we’ve created a free, easy-to-follow template for writers of any genre or at any point in the writing process. Download your free copy here!
FriesenPress has helped thousands of authors self-publish their books with professional support. From editing and book design to distribution and book promotion, we help writers self-publish and succeed. Contact us at 1-800-792-5092 or download our free Author’s Guide to learn more!