The 6 reasons why you *must* write a non fiction book proposal

pages-freestockphotosYour platform might be obvious to you, but it needs to be obvious to others.

You’ve built your career to be an expert in your field. You know all the gains you’ve made and what you’ve accomplished, but you need to lay it all out in your proposal. The more about your platform you can include in your proposal the more marketable you’ll seem to agents and publishers. Agents and publishers see proposals every day, so how is your expertise something that’s a bonus to you and the project?

It will show the gap in the market.

How are you going to be unique and say something different? By showing us that no one else has done this before and if they have why you are going to do it better, more comprehensively, or with a different angle. If you aren’t saying something unique, why would a publisher want to publish you? Publishers have experts in many field writing books for various non fiction imprints, how are you going to crack that list? By doing something that no one else has, or if they have doing it more uniquely with a fresh angle.

Unlike fiction authors, you haven’t finished your book yet.

Fiction writers can show their voice and style through the manuscript they submit, but non fiction authors sell books on proposal so you need to use your voice in your proposal writing and sample chapters. The more comprehensive your proposal, the more your voice shines through.

This is your promise to publishers about what you can and will accomplish in your book.

A publisher is investing in a non fiction author, giving them an advance not knowing if they can execute the entire book. The proposal shows that you are serious, you are committed, and you have a strong vision for your book that is palpable and clear to yourself–and clear from a sales and marketing perspective.

Writing your proposal actually helps you organize your own thoughts.

Through the proposal writing process things illuminate that weren’t clear before. Not sure how your platform was going to complement in your marketing plan? Not sure what the tone of your Introduction was going to be? In putting together the proposal all the dots begin to connect and the closer they connect the more clearly you can pitch your book. Not only will you have a clear plan on how you’re going to execute, you’ll have a more convincing pitch.

Your proposal is your opportunity to take control of your message and pitch it the way you want.

Proposal writing is a mix of portraying a clear message and vision for your book, and giving a multi-page sales pitch. You are in control of your message based on the way you craft your proposal. Use your skills to write a savvy proposal and hook your reader from the start.

Further Reading:

How to Write a Non Fiction Book Proposal

Published by Carly Watters

Carly Watters is a SVP, senior literary agent and director of literary branding with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial and upmarket fiction, select literary fiction, platform-driven non fiction and select memoir. She occasionally represents children's book projects. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

6 thoughts on “The 6 reasons why you *must* write a non fiction book proposal

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