The successful book proposal | what to include

Do you need to write a book proposal? This article will briefly list the components that your book proposal needs to be successful. Then I’ll include an example of a successful book proposal: the proposal that my brother and I wrote that persuaded an editor at McGraw-Hill to publish our book, The Homeowner’s Guide to Property Tax Relief.

Book proposal components

A book proposal requires these components:

  • Concept and approach – Here you describe your approach to the book’s subject matter. You provide an overall view of your subject and what you intend to say about it.
  • Target audience – In this section you describe who will be interested in reading your book and why. This is a critical component. You must know your audience.
  • Competition – It’s difficult to write a book on a subject that no other author has written about. In this section you list other books written on your subject, how they approach your subject, and the issues you see with their approaches.
  • How your book is different – If your book isn’t very different, what’s the point of writing it? You must explain how what you have to say is different and why that matters to your target audience.
  • Project status – In this section, explain your vision for the completed work. For example, you would provide information about the number of words, the types of illustrations, the format of the completed book, and the estimated time to completion.
  • About the author – Why are you a good choice to write this book? You must provide sufficient reasons for an editor to believe that you are. It may be that your have solid credentials in the subject area. If your credentials are lacking, you must come up with the best reasons you can and show your strengths by writing a compelling proposal and a solid sample chapter (our next component).
  • Sample chapter – A completed chapter or section is necessary. Your editor must be certain that you can write and that you know your subject. (The sample chapter is not included in this article.)
  • Outline – Your outline should include a solid description of each chapter. Provide as much detail as you can.

Sample book proposal

Here is the successful book proposal that convinced an editor at McGraw-Hill to publish our book.

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