3 Keys to Successful Nonfiction Book Proposals

While a novel or collection of poems can rest on the quality of the manuscript, nonfiction submissions–with the exception of memoir–usually live or die based upon the strength of the book proposal. There are many great books on how to write a book proposal, but I want to share my three keys to nonfiction book proposal success.blogging_tips_robert_lee_brewer

  • Focus on benefits. Avoid pitching the features of your book. Features might be case studies, interviews, lists, and exclusive information. All this is great stuff to have in a nonfiction book, but it’s expected. What you need to pitch are the benefits of your book. In other words, “My book will help you (blank).” For instance, Writer’s Market is filled with features, but it’s benefit is that it helps writers get published and paid for their writing. Think about what your book will help readers do.
  • Show there’s a need for your book. There are two steps to showing need. First, find a quantifiable audience that’s interested in buying your book. You can do this by finding other books that sell well, magazines, associations, television shows, etc. Once you have quantified an audience, show that your proposed book fills a hole in the market that is currently empty or that it does something better than what’s currently on the market. Basically, what makes your book unique?


Get your nonfiction book published!

Join the upcoming How to Get Your Nonfiction Book Published boot camp and learn how to get your nonfiction book published by creating a supercharged nonfiction book proposal. This program, which begins on Friday (2/22/13), offers writers access to book acquisition editors to ask specific questions about projects, a personalized critique of the key elements of their specific nonfiction book, and more. Click to continue.


  • Develop a platform. It’s increasingly impossible to find success in traditional or indie publishing without an author platform. Platform is a quantified measure of your connection to a target audience. For instance, my free WritersMarket.com newsletter goes out to more than 100,000 subscribers every week. I can quantify my reach to writers interested in getting published. However, I can’t quantify my reach to single parents, because I don’t publish a single parents newsletter. Click here for advice on improving your author platform.


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Craft a successful book proposal!

There are actually six main components of a book proposal. In How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal, WD Publisher Phil Sexton will explain what they are and how to assemble them successfully. In addition, writers will learn the definition of prescriptive nonfiction (and why it matters), how to demonstrate need for a book, how to position as an expert for the book, and more.

Click to continue.