Nonfiction Book Proposal Guidelines

We prefer to receive book proposals through email as file attachments in PDF format. We also accept Word documents and OpenOffice documents.

Here is what your book proposal should include. If you’ve already written a book proposal with these elements, but they’re in a different sequence or the section headings have different names, that’s fine. You don’t have to customize it for us.

1. Overview

Summarize your book project, approximate word count, why you wrote it (or are writing it), the readers you expect to reach, the status (complete manuscript or work in process) and how this book distinguishes itself from other similar books. You can include the pitch here or in a separate query letter, whichever you prefer.

2. Target market

What category of book is this—health, academic, educational, self-help, hobby, etc.? Is your book aimed at a particular demographic or age group? Does this group of people like to buy books?

3. Competitive analysis

Tell us about competing titles, and how your book is different than free information about the same topic available at blogs and websites. Describe similar books and sites popular with your target audience. Explain why potential readers would want to buy your book in addition to or instead of these competing works.

4. Author bio and platform

Include your author bio, other books or articles you’ve published, any relevant credentials or degrees you have, your author website (if you have one) and social media platforms. If you have an opt-in email list, let us know about how many contacts are on the list.

5. Marketing and promotion plan

Tell us about any courses, meetups, and workshops you attend or lead that are related to this book. Do you go to events, conferences, or conventions where you can promote your book? Is your book suited for school or university markets? Have you arranged for anyone to provide book endorsements, book blurbs, or book reviews? Are you in contact with any media outlets?

6. Table of contents

Include two or three heading levels, depending on your project. (i. e., chapter and heading 1, or chapter, heading 1, and heading 2). This shows us the structure of your book. You can leave the page numbers off the table of contents or include them, whichever is easier for you. (Yes, it’s okay to generate a TOC in Word and use it for the book proposal, even for an incomplete manuscript. We will ignore page numbers, if present.)

7. Sample chapters

Provide two sample chapters of the book so that we can get a sense of your writing style and its suitability for the target audience.

Book Proposal Resources

For more information about writing nonfiction book proposals, see the following articles:

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