The missing ingredient in your book proposal

I often see a main element missing from book proposals.

A book proposal is a business plan for your book. It helps you convince the publisher to take a chance on you. In a traditional publishing arrangement, the publisher is essentially offering you a loan (called an advance) so you can finish your book, and they take on the risk of producing and distributing it.

For those reasons, it’s important to spell out the key selling points of your book, and complete a market analysis for the publisher. This market analysis includes a sense of comparable/competing titles, as well as your connections, such as organizations that might be willing to do a bulk buy, or influential writers/celebs you know who might blurb (endorse) the book.

All of that is table stakes in a proposal. What really grabs an editor’s attention is the soul of your book. Your proposal needs to impart a feeling, or tone. Identifying and showing the soul of the book will distinguish you far more than a curated list of comp titles.

A friend recently reviewed the proposal I used to sell my book, Tracking Giants (coming in May 2023). What grabbed her attention was not the sales analysis, or the book description. It was the feeling of me, the writer, embarking on this project.

Here’s the part she pulled out…

“I jumped into this project without doing much research or learning Appropriate Adventuring™ techniques, so my book will coated in a sweaty layer of fear, self-doubt, and silly mistakes.”

And here’s what she wrote: SOLD! ❤️💛💜❤️💛💜❤️

The tone—the sweaty layer—demonstrated that only I could write this book. I wasn’t another “typical adventurer.” I leaned into that funny, self-effacing tone when writing and revising.

If you’re curious about book proposals and wondering if you need one, here’s a complete guide. And if you need a book proposal, I can help with that too.

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