My Twisted Writer Brain…

NonFiction Book Proposals Part 1

I can do almost anything when I put my mind to it but I’m struggling to complete a nonfiction book proposal. This has nothing to do with the work itself but instead with procrastination and to be honest–sheer laziness on my part.

It’s not rocket science but believe me, it’s a lot of work. You see to have a nonfiction book published traditionally you first need to sell the idea, research similar titles already on the market, convince publishers that the book is needed/marketable/sellable, and then demonstrate why you’re the best one to actually write the book.

Let’s break it down:

  1. The Idea. For me, and the way my brain works, this is the easy part. I look around and to me everything needs a book. Smiling Golden Retrievers (wouldn’t that be a cute coffee table book?) or how about Boys, Bullies, and Balls (Hmm…individuals stories all about being bullied when playing ball). Oh, my brain fires on anything and everything but for a book proposal, and actually getting a contract to write it, is a totally different story.

2. Now comes the research. In your proposal, you need to include what is called “comparable titles”. These are other already traditionally published books on the same or similar topic. It can be discouraging to google the topic you want to write about and find fifty kajillion book titles. Don’t despair though because that obviously shows that there’s a market for the topic. At this point, you need to weed through all the titles and examine the most current on the market (say the last five to seven years). Ask yourself how similar or different they are from yours. How will yours differ and standout? This is a time-consuming part of a book proposal and not one that should be skipped over lightly. Take your time and do your due diligence.

3. Why should this book be published? What is the need? Who are the buyers? Can you demonstrate an actual market for the subject matter? This is also a tough part of the proposal. Markets and public tastes are constantly shifting and you need to illustrate that your subject matter is valid and sellable. This is where it’s important to have an author platform before you begin. This could be a huge following on social media, a blog, or perhaps you have celebrity-status that will help market the book. Anything and everything helps.

4. Why you? Who says that you’re the best to write this book about that particular subject? How is your voice different? In your proposal, you need to list your professional writing credits and potential for reader-ship and perhaps more importantly–buyer-ship. The whole notion behind the proposal is to determine if the book will make money and not get lost amongst the millions of other titles. What do you bring to the table that is unique and perhaps even noteworthy that will garner attention and sales?

So that’s a nonfiction book proposal in a nutshell. Know too that a book proposal isn’t just a couple of pages. It needs to be succinct but is often anywhere from 25-75 pages.

I’m off to do mine now. I’ve done the research and have the rest in my head–I just need to DO it. Wish me luck.

6 thoughts on “NonFiction Book Proposals Part 1”

  1. When a writer says there are a zillion books on the topic, so why should she write one, all I have to do is point to my bookshelf. There are 30 – 50 books on each of my favorite topics – and most of them written by different authors. Gimme more, please – there’s never enough of what I like.

    1. Oh Aggie. I so agree with you. Books, books, and more books…Can there be too many in the world? lol. Thanks for commenting. It makes me picture your office with books of all kinds piled to the ceiling.

  2. Ooh can I relate to the creative part vs sitting my arse down at my desk to do the technical stuff. press releases about my novel or contacting bookstores. HUH? Those are 101 tasks but, NO, I get excited about the creative tasks… Excited to hear sometime what your nonfiction pitch is about! I know you’ll do an amazingly good job!

    1. Hi Mindy. Yes the creative writing is more fun I so agree. Proposals are hard because there’s such a ‘sales’ factor involved. All good tho and fun and perhaps good practice for writing those press releases!! xoxo Almost one year now since Hawaii

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