Authors who are planning a nonfiction book can submit a proposal to publishers (or agents) once the book concept is crystal clear in the author’s mind. The manuscript doesn’t have to be ready. The potential of the book is evaluated from the information delivered in the proposal. This applies to nonfiction books only, and here are ten items that publishers and agents typically expect to find in a proposal.
These ten items for a nonfiction book proposal were originally outlined by Marisa Corvisiero
1. Title and Word Count
The title doesn’t have to be the final one, since it is often changed by the author or the publisher during the publishing process. Nonfiction books can have a title – subtitle structure which allows explaining quite a lot about the book.
In the era of ebooks, the traditional wisdom for the length of a nonfiction book (85,000 words, or about 300 printed pages) doesn’t apply anymore. For instance, we have published nonfiction ebooks that are about 50 pages, and also books that are about 500 pages.
Assuming that the author is still planning the book, the tentative word count indicates the scope of the manuscript and the amount of work required.
Many publishers also want to get a tentative idea for how many pictures, photos, schemas, tables and other elements besides text the author is planning to include in the book.
A short, one or two line description about the concept of the book. The purpose is to make the product interesting and attractive.
A short summary of what the book is about. What the reader will learn and the key points that will be made in the pages.
4. Structure of the Book
How the book will be organized and why. Often, however, it is better to include a comprehensive Table of Contents that shows the structure.
5. Target Market
A description of who should buy the book, who it is written for, and why they need it.
A list of competitive products belongs in this section, with analysis how this book will be different and/or better than books already in the market.
6. Author Bio
Readers will want to know if they can trust the author’s expertise. This is all about credentials.
7. Marketing Plan
Publishers want to know how large audience the author can reach. They will then add their activities to the mix. Any ideas for delivering the message to the world are welcomed by publishers. Authors must be ready to do book marketing as well.
8. Endorsements or Media Coverage
If an author can get endorsements from renowned people for the book, here is the section to mention it. Also possible media contacts, or earlier appearances in media should be listed here.
9. Table of Contents
The more detailed the Table of Contents is, the better picture the publisher gets from the book concept. This is the key element for many publishers when they consider what the book really is about and ponder its positioning in the market. For more information on the details publishers may expect to find in the TOC, read this article.
10. Sample Chapters
A chapter or two of the book should be included in the proposal. Many agents want three to five chapters, but it varies, as well as publishers’ requirements. Submission guidelines should be followed. A sample is important for publishers and agents in order to evaluate the author’s style, voice, and way of presenting the information.