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Writing Book Proposals That Sell

Aug 17, 2007
The book publishing market sure has changed in last few years. Gone are the days when a writer came up with an idea, pitching it to a dozen or more publishing houses in the hopes of landing a contract, before moving on to the next project. Today's book writer has a multitude of publishing options in both the traditional as well as non-traditional book markets to sell his wares.

While traditional publishing remains a hard sell for newcomers, open primarily to experienced authors and celebrities, almost anyone with a good idea, and a fair writing ability can find their work in print nowadays.

Nontraditional publishing options such as e-books, are giving the newcomer a chance to show their stuff, and giving the reading public more and more variety. Electronic (more commonly known as e-books), can range from a full-length novel or reference book to a small pamphlet-style publication. They are available for download on your computer, and can be read at the screen, or printed for a more conventional read. Popular by today's younger, more techno-savvy crowd, many traditional book lovers still prefer the look and feel of holding a "real" book. Still, the advent of the e-book has made it possible for publishers to make thousands of titles available every month at very little cost.

This, of course, translates into much smaller payment for writers, who receive only a fraction of the fee to write a 50-page e-book than they would a traditional manuscript. More often than not, e-book publishers also purchase all rights to the material, denying the writer of any future royalty or subsidiary payments on their work. E-books, however, are often easier (and faster) to write, allowing the writer to do one or more a month, compared to the one or two a year for even the most prolific print author.

Regardless of which publishing venue you, as a writer, choose to market your writing services, a solid well-thought out proposal is still necessary in order to convince any publisher that you have what it takes to get the job done.

The standard book proposal is just that, a proposal made to a publisher for an idea you have for a book. It outlines the project in a clear and concise way that shows the publisher that you are the only writer for the job. When preparing your book proposal remember to include these keys elements:

The Introduction:
Introduce your project using vivid and compelling language. This is your sales pitch. Brief and to the point, it should include all the major selling points of the project: the need for a book on this particular subject; unusual or unique sources you may have that others don't; the slant or angle of the book; the target audience and/or marketability value; and a short bio that sells you to the publisher.

The Chapter-By-Chapter Outline:
Here, you have the opportunity to really show that you've thoroughly thought out the project and know how you'll handle completing it.

Sample Chapters:
If you've piqued the editor's attention enough to get this far in your proposal, then you need to show him or her what you're made of as a writer. Include 2-3 complete sample chapters from the book you are proposing. Always include the first chapter, or lead, to the project, since that's the first thing a potential reader will look at, but the other two are up to you. Include the first three chapters if you like, or one form the beginning, the middle and the end. It's up to you. Just make sure each chapter is the best you can do. After all, even a perfect proposal won't go any further is the actual chapter writing isn't up to par.

Author's Bio Box:
In this last section, you have the opportunity to sell yourself! Include an extensive resume and listing of previous work published. Explain what it is that you can give this project, which no other writer can. Seal the deal. Make the publisher think that you, and only you, can pull this book off.

In today's fast-paced publishing world, there are thousands of writers trying to sell thousands of projects every day. While the market is wide open to everyone right now, thanks to alternative publishing options, it's still necessary for the professional writer to submit quality work in order to succeed in the writing life. Learn how to write top-notch book proposals and watch the offers come rolling in.
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