Write a Savvy Book Proposal, Part 2

Last week, we looked at elements to include in every book proposal: cover letter, overview, marketing information, and a competitive analysis. Here are four more.

Author info
Include a short bio highlighting your writing experience, skills related to your book’s topic, and your platform for promoting the book. If you’re writing about pastoral care and you’ve professionally counseled pastors, share that. But beware—an editor will see through padding.

Chapter synopses
Avoid overwriting. Editors need only four to five sentences about each chapter to see how your book flows.

  • Nonfiction: For each chapter, create a captivating title and list intended results.
  • Fiction: Create a chapter-by-chapter synopsis that builds your story arc to a persuasive climax and resolution.

Sample chapters
Include the first 50 pages of your book (2-3 chapters). This will show an editor whether you can deliver—be sure this is your best work.

Check it—and check it again
Proofread your proposal several times. Allow a trusted friend to review it. Agents and editors are expert analysts. If your title is weak, your proposal full of errors, your synopses thin, or you include too much, your proposal will land in the wastebasket. Be succinct, yet savvy.

Consult The Christian Writer’s Market Guide for publishers that accept unsolicited manuscripts, agents looking for new clients, and conferences where you can meet with editors. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t cultivate interest in your book right away—many best-selling authors spend years submitting proposals before getting published. Hone your talent and prepare a solid proposal, then submit it with confidence.

Christy Scannell is a freelance editor, writer, college journalism teacher, and Christian Writers Guild mentor. For 10 years she was editorial director at Rainbow Publishers/Legacy Press.

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