Tell me what you want to know about book proposals

600px-Circle-question.svgI’ve been working on my presentation for Jot: The GR Writers Mini-Conference and it got me wondering:

If you were to listen to a short talk from a publisher about book proposals, what would you want to know?

My talk that night will be 15 to 20 minutes in length. I’m planning on having a handout with an example book proposal that’s prepared well and another example of one that is prepared poorly. I’m also tentatively planning on framing it this way: “5 Things Every Book Proposal Should Include.”

However, is that too predictable? Sometimes articles or talks that start with “X Things about Y” really start to bore me. Yet, it’s a formula for communicating a message that makes sense to a lot of people, so I’m hesitant to do away with it.

And is this content even what people are interested in learning about? I can make my own guesses, but I thought I’d start by asking you.

So tell me, what do you want to know about book proposals?



10 thoughts on “Tell me what you want to know about book proposals

  1. Susie Finkbeiner

    Okay. I’ve written a fair share of book proposals. They TERRIFY me! I think this would be a very good topic for you to share. And 20 minutes is a good amount of time. Otherwise, it can become laborious, you know?

    Also, I like the “X ways to do Y”, just so long as “X” doesn’t equal more than 10 points. It’s easier to take notes and follow along that way. It’s all about how it’s presented. I think you’ll do a fantastic job!

    1. Andrew Rogers Post author

      Thanks for the feedback, Susie. If I don’t get a strong negative reaction to the “X ways to do Y” format then I will keep it. Thanks for the encouragement, too!

  2. Cross Focused Reviews


    I’d probably work in some things about what people need to do before they even begin writing their book proposal.

    -Begin building an online platform (blog, facebook, twitter) at least a year in advance of when they hope to see the book in print.
    -Put together a list of publishers/agents to whom you’ll submit your completed proposal, making sure the book you’re proposing fits with the markets they normally work in.

    Here are a few of the books I’ve found particularlly helpful:

    -Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael S. Hyatt
    -Get Known Before The Book Deal: Use Your Personal Strengths To Grow An Author Platform by Christina Katz
    -Sell Your Book Like Wildfire: The Writer’s Guide to Marketing and Publicity by Rob Eagar
    -APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch

  3. Jessie Clemence

    I think it’s a good way to approach a very helpful topic. I can’t speak for other writers, but I had NO idea of how to connect with any publishers when I got started. If you want to be a nurse, you have to go to nursing school and they tell you everything you need to know, right down to making you pass certification exams. But writing is all guesswork for most of us, so hearing from the publishing side is often a wake up call to writers. And the format you’re thinking of using is simple and recognizable. Everyone will be able to clip right along with you. I especially like your ideas of good and poor proposals. Bad examples speak volumes!

    1. Andrew Rogers Post author

      Jessie – Thanks a bunch for posting your thoughts. Sounds like I should stick with the format.

      I’m also coming to the realization that “book proposals” is a huge topic for 15-20 minutes. I might zero in on just one or two facets of the proposal process and talk on that. Thanks again for your input.

      FYI – I graduated from Cornerstone with M.G. from your publisher. I saw her recently and she speaks highly of you. :-)

  4. sarah

    I’d use an attention-getting word, like “Non negotiables for a Book Proposal,” or “Essential Ingredients for a Book Proposal”, (then use a cooking recipe idea for building the proposal) “The Hardware of a Book Proposal” (using computer metaphors) If you need any more ideas, just call! :)


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