How To Write A Book Proposal

Part One – Title Page 

The title page is a very important element to your book proposal, think of it as your advert or billboard for the book. Spend time on your title, make it stand out.  Don’t forget to add your name and personal details at the end of the title page. The title of course should go right in the middle of the title page.

The publisher will quickly see whether your book is something they might want to read, and whether or not it is in alignment with their publishing goals.

Part Two – Table of Contents

Table of Contents.  Very simply, this is a list of the chapters in your book.  This should contain the essence of the book within one to two pages depending on the amount of chapters in your book.  By looking at the TOC the reader will be able to see very quickly the logical flow of your book, and of course, catchy titles are a great help too.  The publisher can see how well you’ve organised your thoughts, and that you have some good content in each chapter and it piques their interest in the rest of your proposal.

Part Three – Chapter Synopsis – Overview 

This a quick overview of what the book is about. One page should suffice. Imagine you are sitting down with a friend or acquaintance in the local pub, and you have one minute to tell them what your book is about.  There is your synopsis, a condensed, high impact account of your book’s content.

Part Four – Chapter by Chapter Synopsis

This is a four or five sentence paragraph – or if you like – mini-synopsis – for each chapter of your book, outlining what that chapter is about.  Chapter synopses are vital, they can quickly give the reader a sense of the essence of the book.  So for example you might start off a chapter summary or synopsis as follows;

In this chapter we are going to show you the four things you need to do to market you product effectively.

This breakdown shows the reader the content of the whole book in a nutshell, and gives them a feel for the book.

Part Five – Attach a few Chapters to Your Book

Take one or two chapters of your book.  For first time authors it’s best to attach two chapters rather than one.  The publisher needs to know you can write, that you have a way with words and that you can engage the reader in your subject. Ideally, the publisher will think, here is a great idea, and the person submitting it knows how to write it! Wow!

Part Six – Marketing Plan *

This is where many book proposals fall down.  A publisher needs to know where this book fits with their list. Who do you think the readers are for your book? Where do you see it getting out there and making a difference in the world?   Give your perspective on all the different ways in which you see this book making a difference, perhaps it is a self-help book, how does it help people?  The publisher needs to know he can at the very least cover the cost of the first printing. The second printing is where he begins to make a profit.

 Part Seven – Author Bio

Show why you are qualified to write this book, what makes you unique as a writer.  Attach your resume, writing background, prior publications and so on.  If you don’t have any prior publications, explain why.  Perhaps this is your first foray into writing, or perhaps you are picking up the pen again after several years. What matters is that the publisher gets a sense of who you are.  Most important, if you have an outlet for this book, an audience or platform, this gives you an amazing edge. The publisher will think, this author can sell this book on his or her platform. Naturally then, the publisher will be more inclined to want to work with you on the sale of this book.

 Part Eight – Cover Letter 

Make sure you send out a hard copy letter on good bond paper, emails can be deleted, but letters tend to stick around for longer.  The publisher can put it in his briefcase and look at it later.  If the cover letter is exciting, the publisher will open the rest.

How To Find The Publisher

Go to the bookshop and find all the books that are similar to yours. Write down the names of the publishers, which are usually found on the back page of the published book.


Enjoy yourself and have fun! Think how exciting it will be when you get your manuscript accepted!  Good luck!


About Alice F Wickham

Chief bottle washer of New London Writers; would be ruler of the entire planet. (There would be far more trees, I promise you that!) Modest megalomaniac; thinker, dreamer, and milk chocolate eater. Co-creator of a brave new universe where poetry comes before profit, and you ALWAYS get a seat on the train.

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