Fiction book proposal – what is it and how do you write one? A fiction proposal is sometimes required by book agents and publishers, but not always. However, you’re much more likely to get a literary agency or publisher interested in you and your novel if you create one. Writing a fiction proposal will also help you get clearer about the uniqueness and value of your book.
This article is part of a 17-part series called Get a Literary Agent and Book Deal.
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Fiction Book Proposal – Four Sections
A fiction book proposal is really just a longer version of a query letter. You might find it helpful to think of your query letter as an “Executive Summary” of your fiction book proposal.
Writing a fiction book proposal can be tricky, because not all literary agencies and publishers have the same requirements. However, if you create a proposal that’s divided into the following four sections, in the following order, every agent or publisher that you submit fiction book proposal to will be happy.
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Recommended Structure for a Fiction Book Proposal
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Section 1 – Fiction Book Proposal
About the Book & Target Market
The first part of your fiction book proposal should have details about your book and your target market.
This is where you’ll answer questions like:
- What is your novel about?
- How many words is the manuscript or what is the expected word count?
- How much of your novel is completed?
- What is the title/subtitle?
- What genre or category do you believe your book best fits into?
- What is your book’s history (has it been self-published, previously represented by another book agent, or reviewed by any publishers, etc.)?
- What is the target market (who do you think is the ideal person to enjoy and/or benefit from your book)?
- What is the story or inspiration behind your book?
- Do you have other books available, or ideas for other books?
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Section 2 – Fiction Book Proposal
Competition or “Competitive Advantages”
Most publishing agents call this section of a fiction book proposal the “Competition” section, but I like to call it the “Competitive Advantages” section. That reinforces the idea (in your mind and in the mind of book agents and publishers) that your book is unique (and in some ways better) than “similar” titles in your genre.
This is where you’ll address questions like:
- Although your novel is different than anything else that’s been published, what competing or “similar” titles can you compare it to… so book agents and publishers will know what it’s like (or not like)? How is your book similar? How is your book different?
- Why do you believe that your book should be published? If you think your book has bestseller or high commercial potential, why?
- What unique content do you have in your book (e.g. special knowledge or research, life experience, etc.)?
- Do you believe that you have a unique writing style (e.g. structure, format, voice, etc.)?
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Section 3 – Fiction Book Proposal
This section of a fiction book proposal provides detailed information about you (relevant to your book), that communicates your credibility as an author.
Be confident, you can do this.
You have to do this!
- Have you published any of your writing?
- What other writing have you done in the past (e.g. journals, letters, stories, articles, blogs, column, speeches, workshops, seminars, training curriculums, books, etc.), and… how much?
- List any of the following that might be relevant: education; professional accomplishments; volunteer, community, and business affiliations; honors, awards, and prizes; associations, professional groups and/or other organizations that you’re part of; avocations, hobbies, and/or enthusiasms.
- Have you attended any writers’ groups, retreats, seminars, workshops, or conferences… or, have you ever worked with a professional book coach, consultant, or editor?
- Provide a 50-250 word bio.
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Section 4 – Fiction Book Proposal
Marketing & Publicity
This part of a fiction book proposal should outline your ability to promote your novel, and a plan to do so.
- What is the size of your current email list, phone/fax list, and physical mailing address list (if you have them)?
- Are you active on social media (if so, how many friends/followers do you have)?
- Do you have a website and/or blog?
- Do you have lecture, seminar, or workshop experience?
- Do you have publicity or public relations experience?
- Do you have a business that will help promote your book?
- Do you have any reviews, blurbs, or testimonials for your book?
- Do you have a list of people that you believe might give you testimonials, or otherwise help you promote your novel?
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Fiction Book Proposal – Conclusion
Sometimes literary agencies and publishers will require you to submit a fiction book proposal, even if your book is already written. Don’t forget that a fiction book proposal does more than just explain what your novel is about.
A well-written fiction book proposal helps agents and publishers understand why you’re qualified to write your book, through your Biography section. The Competitive Advantages section reveals the uniqueness and value of your book within a competitive marketplace. And the Marketing & Publicity section highlights what you’re willing and able to do, to help sell books.
Now, click here to read the next article in this 17-part series and
learn how to Submit Your Book to a Literary Agent.