How to write a book proposal – It’s a lot easier once you realize there are different types of book proposals. This article explains important differences between writing a fiction proposal and a nonfiction proposal.
This article is part of a 17-part series called Get a Literary Agent – For Authors of All Genres.
Scroll below to learn how to write a book proposal for any genre or category. Discover insider secrets for authors of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books… so you’ll know how to write a book proposal that’s absolutely irresistible.
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How to Write a Book Proposal
The first step in learning how to write a book proposal (for any type of book), is realizing that a book proposal is basically an expanded (much longer version) of a literary agent query letter. Some of my 1-on-1 author coaching clients have found it helpful to think of their query letter as an “Executive Summary” of their book proposal.
I’ll show you how to write a book proposal in just a moment. But first I want to make sure you understand what a book proposal can do for you.
Writing a book proposal will help you:
1. Get a book agent
2. Get a book publisher
But that’s not all…
If you write a book proposal before your book is finished, it can also help you get clearer about the uniqueness and value of your book.
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How to Write a Book Proposal Starts Here
Think of it this way…
Your book is a product. Publishing houses are banks. Book acquisition editors are loan officers. You’re an entrepreneur trying to get a loan (or advance) for your writing business. And your literary agent book proposal is your business plan.
Don’t be offended.
If you think of yourself, first and foremost, as a creative artist… that’s okay. You can also be an entrepreneur. The two terms are not mutually exclusive. In fact, you might find it helpful to start thinking of yourself as a “creative entrepreneur.”
But (make no mistake), once you write a literary agent book proposal and submit it to literary agencies (with the goal of getting a publisher), you are an entrepreneur.
Because publishing houses are businesses.
Your book agent will use your literary agent book proposal (business plan) to pitch editors (loan officers) at various publishing houses (banks), to try and get you a loan (advance) for your book (writing business).
If your literary agent book proposal is well-written, publishers will believe that you and your book are a good financial investment… one that’s likely to generate a significant profit or return on their investment (ROI).
And they will invest in you.
By the way, being an author (owner of a writing business) is one of the best gigs in town. It’s one of the few businesses where you don’t have to pay back your loan (advance) if your product (book) doesn’t perform well.
I know, your book is going to be a NY Times bestseller.
Hey, if you use all the resources on my website you’ll actually have a fair shot at pulling it off. But isn’t it nice to know that you won’t be on the hook for that six-figure book advance you might get, if readers and/or the critics don’t recognize your genius?
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Before You Learn How to Write a Book Proposal – CAUTION
Not every author needs to learn how to write a book proposal
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Nonfiction Authors: If you’re a nonfiction book author and your expertise is important (e.g. self-help, medical, legal, political, etc.) it’s more important that you learn how to write a book proposal and be prepared to submit one. If you’re writing a nonfiction book like humor, gift/novelty, cookbook, illustrated picture book, etc. …publishing agents would still prefer to see a proposal (and might ask for one). But it’s less likely, and less important.
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Fiction Authors: If you’re a fiction author, you probably don’t need to learn how to write a book proposal. That said, some book agents do require a book proposal from all their fiction authors. When you’re researching literary agencies and looking at their individual submission guidelines, you’ll find out if you need to learn how to write a book proposal (and be prepared to submit one).
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Children’s Book Authors: If you’re a children’s book author writing nonfiction, there’s a good chance you’ll need to learn how to write a book proposal. However, children’s book authors writing nonfiction aren’t required to submit book proposals as often as adult book authors writing nonfiction. If you’re a children’s book author writing fiction, you probably don’t need to learn how to write a book proposal. But, some book agents do require book proposals from their children’s book authors writing fiction. Check individual literary agency requirements before submitting.
Okay, now I’m going to help you figure out
which type of book proposal you need…
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How to Write Book Proposals for Your Type of Book
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Nonfiction – How to Write a Book Proposal
If you want to learn how to write a book proposal for a nonfiction book, click here for detailed information on how to write a nonfiction book proposal.
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Fiction – How to Write a Book Proposal
If you want to learn how to write a book proposal for a fiction book, click here for detailed information on how to write a fiction book proposal.
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Children’s Books – How to Write a Book Proposal
If your children’s book is nonfiction, click on the nonfiction link above to learn how to write a book proposal for nonfiction. If your children’s book is fiction, click on the fiction link above to learn how to write a book proposal for fiction. There are no special guidelines about how to write a book proposal for childen’s books.
Now, scroll back up and click on the appropriate link to learn how to write a book proposal for nonfiction and/or how to write a book proposal for fiction.
Or, click here to read the next article in this 17-part series and
learn how to Submit Your Book to a Literary Agent.
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