In response to last week’s article by Angela Hoy, 10 Things You Should NOT Say in Your Book Proposal, famous author and book marketing expert MJ Rose shares advice on what you SHOULD include.
1. The target market for your book.
If your book is about breast feeding truckdrivers, use google, lexus/nexus and any other sources you need to find real numbers of the size of that audience. If your proposal says that there are 10,000 women of childbearing years who drive trucks, the book will be perceived differently than if you say there are 150,000.
2. Why you are the one and only most qualified person to write this book.
Make sure you list every article you’ve written on the subject and professional affiliations you’ve had that fit into your reasoning. Even if the qualifications seem silly to you, if they are real and matter list them. This is no time to be modest or shy.
3. What makes this book different from all other books?
Do your research here, again. Take the top five books that are similar – use the bestselling ones and read them. Then, write cogent but short explanations of how your book compares and why the world needs another book on breast feeding truckdrivers.
4. How you will market this book yourself.
While the large publishers have publicity departments, the author who is a self starter will win in the end. I know of three authors who recently got contracts and were told it was the marketing proposal that helped sell the books. One of them had taken my class, Buzz Your Book, and used the plan we came up with in the proposal. Reputable publishers won’t expect you to do all the marketing, but they want to know what you’re willing to do and how you will be a marketing partner with your publisher.
5. How you will use your expertise to get attention and readers.
Come up with three articles that pertain to the book and list the newspapers/magazines/websites you think might be willing to run the article.
Get them now and put them in the proposal. It makes a difference to a publisher that you already have pull quotes and that they will have something to use to get attention for your title. Don’t just say, “I’ll get blurbs.” Get them now.
7. Explain why you will be a great spokesperson for your book.
Again, do your homework. Tell the publisher that there are over 100 trucking conventions in the US and you have already made contact with 20 of them who have agreed to have you come and speak when the book is published.
8. List your affiliations.
I know several authors who got sales based on things such as — “The Minister of my church has a newsletter that goes to 100,000 people and he’s agreed to mention the book because I’m a member of the congregation.”
9. Write a killer first chapter, table of contents and at least one paragraph on each chapter.
Have someone edit it so it’s letter perfect.
10. Write a well-written and concise description of the book that sells the concept.
Don’t just rely on the long, one- or two-page description. Start off with a one- or two-sentence, pithy, memorable line that the publisher will remember even after they have put the proposal down and gone out for lunch.
M.J. Rose is the author of five novels, including her most recent – The Halo Effect – and two non fiction books. She also has a blog on book marketing, Buzz, Balls & Hype and teaches an online marketing class called Take the Guesswork out of Creating a Buzz Plan for Your Book. The next class starts Sept 6th (Monday!). Sign up at