Creating a Proposal for your Non-Fiction book

Onwards from Television we’re going to make a brief stop in the world of writing books. We can touch on all aspects but let’s start with selling the non-fiction book. That’s anything from a biography, a book about all the museums in the United States or a cookbook. Anything that is not fiction. Duh.


It’s actually a long process to complete to get to editors at appropriate publishing houses. Remember, again, you’re not going to send your cookbook to someone who edits children’s books. You must do your homework. If you get the right piece to the right person it’s much better than their having to refer you all around and you getting lost in the publishing house shuffle.

What follows is a full treatment developed by the author to send to editor for publication. (FYI, these are not my politics). There are several aspects of information, both educational and regarding marketing and selling that will determine whether your concept is of interest.


Start with a page with the Title and Author of the proposed book –               The Obama Backlash by Deneen Borelli

Then move on to this:

1. Concept Proposal — What is the book about? Where is the idea coming from and where will the information to support the concept be gathered? In the case of this book, a conservative wants to write about why Obama is not a good President and why having elected him was wrong. She is going to have to give a few pages on why this is so and support her claims.

2. Marketing the Book – What’s special about the book? Where on television and other media outlets can it be marketed and with what angle? Here, Deneen Borelli is a conservative black female Tea Party supporter who has appeared on many conservative TV shows and speaks regularly on subjects for the right wing. Who are you and how do you help the marketing of your book? Listing all the clever ways to get your book known and bought will encourage an editor. If you have a marketing strategist involved already, that’s great. If you know you can platform it on websites that are of like mind, that’s great. If there is footage of Deneen on FOX News, let us know. Let us know what your game plan would be and let us know who you are and what you’ve done that’s going to make people want to buy the book. Now, with so many outlets for advertising, one has to get creative and thoughtful. Dig deep – this is a big element of your sales pitch.

3. About the Author – Pretty simple. A very complete biography of who you are, your education, your experience and how it brings you to be the right person to write this book. Include it all. There must be a reason you are drawn towards a subject to write a book on Obama so include all the knowledge and experience you have surrounding this topic and create a comprehensive biography that makes you indispensable.

4. Expected Completion Date – This is a vague notion for marketing purposes.

5. Chapter Outline – Obviously, this is an outline for the book. What it’s going to cover, how it will progress, the titles of each chapter and what it will include…all the way to the final chapter and the end of the book. In screenwriting terms – outlining the story; who, what, where, why, when and how. These should be a few paragraphs to a page long each depending on the seriousness of the book. If you’re writing a book on a movie star, it could be “Chapter 6 – Winning the first Oscar and how her career changed after that” Then from there – some details, who you’re going to be discussing, what was happening…a lure, bait for the reader….This obviously gives the editor an idea of what the book will consist of so it’s important that this be well thought out and create a good flow from beginning to end.

6. Sample Chapter – Just what it sounds like. Pick a juicy one, one that’s going to entice the editor. The cream of the crop. Write it and put your all into it. Make it so the editor needs to see more, wants to read this book based on this chapter and of course, it’s the sample of how you write. If your writing a book about Obama you write one way, if you’re writing a book about a movie star you write another and you have to able to write as the material dictates.

Here then is your non-fiction nook proposal. Yes, it can come from an agent but if you’ve done this professionally and you have your list of appropriate editors to send this to, it can, with permission from the editor, come from you. Some editors don’t like unsolicited material so you ask if you can send it and you let them know you have a completed proposal. Take yourself seriously and others will too. As always do your homework and keep trying. If you get rejections, try to listen carefully to the feedback and adjust things if you’re able. The world is telling you something with every noise you make, so listen and be a part of it. Good luck to all the writers out there – also, by the way, this is a good way to pitch an agent to have them get it to an editor as well. Either way, if there’s a middle man or not, it’s a necessity and it’s a great opportunity for you, the writer to outline what it is you want to say and how and why it should be bought and marketed. Here’s to more books on the shelves!




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