Book Proposals

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Selecting a Publisher

It is important to select as many as twelve publishers that might be the right type to publish your book. There is no point in submitting a mystery novel to a cookbook publisher and it just annoys the editor at the publishing company who already has hundreds of book proposals to review. Click on “preferred publishers” above for how to construct the right list for you.

Submitting the Book Proposal

Submission Format

• Full proposal should be in one file and the book manuscript should be in another separate single file
• Proposal and manuscript pages should be separately numbered
• If a full manuscript is submitted, it must have a table of contents. The heading in the chapters should be set up to allow for an automatic table of contents.
• Make sure the author’s contact information is on the title page (all phone numbers, email, physical address)
• The book proposal and sample manuscript can be sent in either as a PDF or in Word.

Manuscript Submission Log

The author should list the preferred publishers into groups of three – the top three, second three, and so on. The author will want to submit the proposal to only three publishers at a time. You can keep a manuscript tracking log to keep track of submissions and follow ups.

Follow Up Schedule

It is hard for many authors to understand but the publishing industry is on a very slow schedule. Where it might be typical in the business world today to expect a response from a proposal in a few days or a week, for the publishing world, at least 2 months is the norm. It is recommended that the author wait for six weeks after the initial submission for any follow up correspondence, and then follow up every three weeks after that.

The way the follow up is done is also very important. Never telephone for a follow up, always use email. Never make any follow up sound the slightest bit angry or impatient – that will only signal a prima dona or needy author and make it less likely the author will get an offer.

The first follow up email should be sent six weeks after the initial proposal is sent in. It should be short and informative, letting the publisher know about any good news you’ve had since the proposal was sent, such as if you booked a significant keynote or if you got an article published or appeared in the media.

For instance, a great follow up would be (from the author): “I just wanted to let you know since the time I sent the proposal, I’ve been booked to speak at a keynote address for the ABC organization next March. This will be to an audience of 2,000 and I’ve been asked to speak on the exact topic of my book.

If none of those things happened, then you will want to send them a link to an article that shows how the topic of your book is in the news media.

The second and any subsequent follow ups should be sent three weeks later. If you send four follow ups with no response, you should stop at that point. But that is rare. Often the first follow up will get you a response – either positive or negative and you will know at that point.

Follow up emails should also never ask, “Have you read my book proposal?” or “When will you read my book proposal?” The email should only remind the editor of the book proposal that was sent in to him or her a few weeks prior by title and then be for the sole purpose of updating some exciting good news that might be helpful to have when they look at the proposal.

Sample Book Proposals

Business Book Proposal
Self Help Book Proposal
Teen Book Proposal