Working Title

Indicate the tentative title of the book, with subtitle, if desired, and give possible alternative titles. Try to get a title that will position the book against the competition. Promise a lot, but never more than you can deliver on. Don’t say anything in your title that’s legally binding.

Description of the Book

In about 250 words, describe the book that you are proposing. What is the nature, focus, purpose, or argument of the book? What is its thesis? Where would it be shelved on the bookstore shelves? Imagine that you are writing the description for the publisher’s catalog. Include a “hook,” something intriguing, or that solves a need.

Table of Contents/Outline

Give the table of contents of the book by chapters. Beneath each chapter title, give a brief outline of the chapter and/or a brief summary of its contents. This summary should explain the focus and development of the chapter and indicate how the chapter advances the argument of the whole book. Sell each chapter– think features/benefits.

Author’s credentials

Give your name, mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number(s). State in what ways you are qualified to write the book that you are proposing. Amass the specifics that will assure the publisher that you know what you’re talking about AND that you have credentials that will help them hype the book (think talk show/public appearance). Mention relevant public appearance experience.

For an academic book, enclose a current vita which indicates your present position, educational background, and previous publications.

If you have outstanding sources, mention them here. If you have impressive clips, enclose a couple of short ones.

Market Rationale

Readership. For what audience, specifically, is the book written? What would attract a potential reader to read this particular book? Does it have a “built in” market? Does the book have potential for textbook adoption? If so, in what courses? Is there anyone who can offer a testimonial about your method/book/ideas?

Alternatives currently available. List competing or similar books in this same genre and subject, including publisher, length, retail price, and how well they are selling. What does your book offer that these books do not? How will your book be superior or different from them? Do you have a gimmick? A different approach? Pictures? Charts? Worksheets? Set yourself out as distinct from the pack. Prove that your book fits into the genre. Prove that books of this kind have sold well in the past. Then show that your book is unique, better than the books currently available.

Promotion. Could the promotion of your book be tied to anything else that’s getting a lot of publicity?

Manuscript length

What is the estimated length of the proposed manuscript? Use number of pages, typed or printed double-spaced on 8 ½ x 11 inch paper, 26 lines per page, 65 characters per line. Or use number of words.

Does the book have pictures, charts, color, line drawings, or anything else that will affect publication costs. How many? What is their availability? Will they have to be purchased? Can you provide them camera-ready? Note: for adult fiction and children’s illustrated book, publishers will typically want to engage the artist themselves. It is not typical for an author to engage their own children’s book illustrator.

Electronic Manuscript Submission

In addition to a printout, could you submit the manuscript on a computer diskette? By e-mail (if the manuscript is short)? If so, what word processing program would you use?

Date of Completion

How far along are you in writing? Indicate the date by which you would expect to submit a completed manuscript. Pad it by two months to allow space for emergencies.

Sample Pages

Enclose a sample of 15 to 25 pages, perhaps of the introduction or first chapter, which illustrates your writing style. These should be pages that are typical of the book as a whole, especially critical to your argument, potentially controversial, or that give a good overview of the book. Largest sample: three chapters including the first and whatever other two represent the book best.

Closing Statement

A book proposal needs a wrap up, a closing statement. Go back to your most persuasive selling point.