I’ve been blogging tips for writing a nonfiction book proposal, and here we are at the last step. As we’ve been discussing, the purpose of a nonfiction proposal is to sell an agent or editor on the concept of your book. Writing a nonfiction book proposal is all about marketing yourself, your writing, and your idea. Each section of your proposal answers the questions, “Why will this book stand out in a sea of other books about this subject?” and “Why are you are the perfect author to write this book?”
Over the previous few weeks I’ve covered each part of a proposal and offered specific ideas for what should be included and why. Today I’ll focus on tying up some loose ends by giving you tips about details that can be the difference between a proposal that’s ignored and one that agents and editors can’t wait to read.
And if you’ve missed any earlier posts, here’s a linked list to make it easy to find what you need:
- Author Bio
- Target Audience
- Marketing and Publicity Plan
- Competitive Titles
- Chapter Summaries
- Sample Chapters
- Table of Contents
I’ve covered all the basics in the previous nine posts, so I’d like now to give you a list of extras to consider. So without further ado,
Those Extra Little Details That Will Make Your Proposal Shine
- First and foremost: there is no right or wrong method for writing a proposal. Just as every writer has a unique voice, every proposal should reflect the author who writes it. The suggestions I’ve presented in this series are just that—suggestions—and as the author, YOU need to put your own personal flare on the final proposal you submit.
- Spellcheck, proofread, and double-check everything from your name on the cover sheet to the links you include. Nothing screams amateur like a document full of errors. If you aren’t absolutely certain your proposal is error free, hire a professional proofreader. It’s the best money you can spend at this point.
- Include a title page that lists the title and subtitle of your book, your name, your physical street address (not a P.O. box), your phone number, fax number, email address, website, url for your blog or YouTube channel if appropriate, and if you have an agent, make sure you add his or her contact information.
- Use an easy-to-read serif font (Times New Roman or Cambria are good choices) and 12 point font. Don’t use a variety of fonts or point sizes.
- Margins should be one inch all around.
- Double space all text.
- Start each new section on a new page.
- Break up text with headers; if you have a page without at least one header, the text on that page is too dense and will be difficult for an editor to digest.
- Number every page sequentially; don’t renumber at the beginning of each new section.
- Include your best author photo in the About the Author section. You can imbed it into the text document.
- If you’re including photos, diagrams, or other illustrations in your book, be sure you include examples of these.
- Provide working links in electronic submissions—check every one before you submit.
I hope this series, “How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book Proposal in 10 Easy Steps,” has helped you feel more confident about your ability to create and market a proposal for your book. If I may stress just one point, it’s this:
You never get a second chance to make a first impression
So be sure your proposal and sample chapters are the best they can be. And feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like help constructing a proposal or just need a professional opinion about the strength of your proposal and sample chapters. I’m here to help!
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Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here.
- Start Here: How to Write a Book Proposal by Jane Friedman
- A Definition of Author Platform by Jane Friedman
- The Dirty Secret of Author Platform by Dan Blank
- The Difference Between Your “Current Platform” and “Future Platform” by Chuck Sambuchino
- The 8 Essential Elements of a Nonfiction Book Proposal by Brian A. Klems