How to Write a Fiction Book Proposal

Fairy tales from magic book.Now that you’ve completed your novel – or at least the first few chapters – you’ll need to know how to write a proposal specific to your chosen art form. A fiction proposal differs slightly from the kind you’d write for a work of non-fiction, and it’s especially important that the sample chapters you send along are worthy of a close read.

The proposal synopsis should use an excellent hook to grab the reader’s attention and create a desire to read the finished work. In the modern book market, and author’s ability to market his own work is another important element. There are no strict rules on formatting a proposal, but there are a few things that must be included in every proposal package.

Title Page:

This cover page features the title of the work, the name of the author or authors, and their phone numbers and email addresses.

The Infamous Hook:

This one sentence describes what happens in the book in such a way as to establish further interest. Think of it as a tagline, similar to one an advertising agency would create to sell a product.

Short Summary:

Next, write a brief overview of the book, similar to one you’d see on the back of a paperback novel. Like the hook, the summary should make inspire publishers to want to pick up your book. It should also neatly describe, in two to four paragraphs, exactly what this work is about.

Describe Your Readership:

Tell potential publishers who will want to buy your book. A great work of fiction is also a product, and publishers want to know that your finished product will appeal to an audience. Describe how you plan to reach this audience, and if you have connections to the marketplace, mention them. Discuss the kinds of books, magazines, periodicals and television shows that your audience likes to read; show that you understand your readers.

Author Biography:

Take half a page to talk about yourself and why you are qualified to write a work of fiction. Discuss any other works you’ve published as well as sales or readership figures. Think of this as the resume portion of your proposal; you’ll want to make yourself look good in the publisher’s eyes. List any accolades you’ve received to better underscore your qualifications.

Your Marketing Connections:

Discuss the marketing ties you’ve already established – not the ones you plan to make. You may think your book would be a great addition to Oprah’s Book Club, but this is not the place to mention it. Keep your marketing ideas for the future to yourself and discuss the marketing platforms you’ve been a part of in the past. If you’ve already established a series of engagements to promote your book, are already scheduled to appear on a radio talk show, or send a weekly newsletter to hundreds of loyal readers every week, let your potential publishers know.

Discuss Similar Works:

By describing four or five novels that are similar to yours, a publisher can gain a better understanding of your work. It’s a good idea to discuss well-known books so that the publisher can better identify with your work, but avoid comparing your book to overwhelmingly popular bestsellers like The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo or the Twilight series. Relate titles, authors, publication dates and a few summary sentences concerning each work.

Cold Hard Facts:

Now is the time to get back to basics. Tell your publisher how many words and chapters are in your book, or about how many you plan to have in your finished work. Explain whether or not your manuscript is complete. Note that unless you have published a novel in the past, it’s best to submit a proposal only after you have completed your book.

Long Summary:

Take about two to six pages to get into details about your storyline. Don’t worry about spoiler alerts – your publisher will want to know what happens in the end.

Sample Chapters:

It’s important to include the first 40 or 50 pages of your completed manuscript in your proposal. This sampling should include only the first few chapters, and come to a stop at the end of a chapter. Don’t send final chapters or chapters that read out of order. This is very definitely the most important part of your proposal, so make sure your work is polished and perfect.

Filed in: Getting Published

One Response to “How to Write a Fiction Book Proposal”

  1. sofia
    November 20, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    thank you for the information. Your blog is cool.

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