Writing the Nonfiction Book Proposal…

20 May

(Ooops! I meant to post this a few months ago, but didn’t. Being pinched for time this week, I decided to do it now, and continue the self-pub story next week. Hope that’s okay with all of you!)

Rather than a synopsis, as for fiction books, one writes an outline for a non-fiction book. These are the most common items in such an outline.

  • Overview of book
  • Marketing Plan
  • Promotion of the Book
  • Competing Books
  • About the Author
  • Table of Contents
  • Book Synopsis or Detailed Outline
  • Estimated Word Count (generally not more than 50,000 words, plus photos, etc.)
  • Chapter-by-Chapter Synopses (Chapters Four – Eleven)
  • Sample: Thirty Pages (Chapters One – Three)

Overview: A general description of the book. The book should be in the words of the author (or first-person, if it’s told to a writer.)  If photos and/or charts of any kind would add to the book, will they be available? Are they of good quality?

Marketing Plan: Who or what is the anticipated market for this book? Where will it be sold, other than bookstores. This is an important question; you shouldn’t just fluff it off.

Promotion: This section would include any seminars the author might do, speaking to special interest groups, appearances at schools or studios. Would you be willing and ready to do interviews – print or other media? Would you start a blog, do FaceBook, Twitter, and LinkedIn? These are just some of the sources for doing promo.  Press/news releases should  be sent to all local area papers, TV and radio stations, plus any specialized media, regardless of where they might be located.  Finding review sources: print and on-line.

Competing Books: Generally, publishers want to know that you’ve at least investigated this possibility.

About the Author: Your biography, credentials, etc. Why are you the right  (best) person to write this book? Have you written any articles, taught classes or given seminars on the topic?

Table of Contents: Here’s a usual list of items for a non-fiction book. These items are NOT required, but can vary according to the author’s wishes.

  • Acknowledgements
  • Dedication
  • Foreword  (could double as ‘the purpose of the book’.)
  • Chapter One  (list titles only if you have them–they’re not required.)
  • Chapter Two
  • Chapter Three
  • Chapter Four
  • Chapter Five
  • Chapter Six
  • Chapter Seven
  • Chapter Eight
  • Chapter Nine
  • Chapter Ten
  • Chapter Eleven  (and/or however many chapters you anticipate)

Outline/Synopsis: A detailed description of the book.

Chapter-by-Chapter Outline/Synopses for Chapters Four – Eleven: A one-page synopsis for chapters four through eleven. These provide a quick overview of what will be covered in-depth in the chapters.

Sample: Thirty Pages – (Chapters One – Three): First thirty pages – short chapters.

Okay. Got all that? Good. Now it’s time to put your rump in the chair and get busy — writing!

Are you a writer nearing the end of the writing portion of a book, and wondering how to find an editor/proof-reader? If so, please send me an e-mail, and I’ll be happy to tell you about my editing services.  Also, I need to remind you that the SPAM filter for WordPress is VERY aggressive, and deletes almost every comment without even giving me a chance to see it first. It’s not adjustable, in any way. If you’ve written a comment that doesn’t appear anywhere, please write directly to my e-mail:  bookmechanic@gmail.com which is also the place for other questions. Thanks!


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