So you've written a book or are in the process of writing a book. And you are reading this article because you are likely on the hunt for a book proposal template.
You've realized that you need to learn how to go about writing a book proposal to showcase your amazing body of work. Especially to get it in front of the right publishers. (Be sure to check out our tips for publishers to avoid!)
Well, the good news is that you are in the right place. This article covers the key components every book proposal should have.
You'll also be able to leverage our book proposal template to guide you as you get started on successfully writing your own.
But first up let's go over exactly what writing a book proposal involves.
What writing a book proposal involves
A book proposal is essentially an overview of what your book has to offer. It showcases why anyone would want to read your book and how it can be marketable to your target audience to generate sales. It's much more detailed than a cover letter.
Think of it like a sale pitch, where the product is your book and the client is the publisher that you'd like to take on the publishing and marketing of your work.
In addition to showcasing your work, it's not uncommon for book proposals to also include sample chapters.
Ultimately, when writing a book proposal, you want to share every reason why your book will do well in the market.
Keep in mind that your book proposal (outside of your sample chapters) should be clear and straight to the point. Between one and three pages is a good baseline.
Even if you are self-publishing, writing a book proposal for yourself can help you create a plan and structure for your book.
A book proposal template: 20 Things to include
Now let's go over a book proposal template in detail. Whether you want to publish an ebook or a print book, your book proposal should highlight your body of work.
The opening page of your proposal might be the only page the publishing team you pitch reads. And so you want to make sure you are putting your best foot forward to really pull them in!
Your book proposal should highlight the below items. Be sure to lay it out with headers and paragraphs so it's easy to read.
You can use the exact headers below or modify or consolidate them accordingly to make this book proposal template your own.
1. Author bio
If someone were to pick up a copy of your book and turn it over to read about you, what would it say? Your author bio is essentially an overview of who you are.
It should also include your name (or pen name), what you'd like your readers to know about you, and your background or experience.
2. Book title and subtitle
This section of your book proposal template is self-explanatory. It's a good idea to consider titles and subtitles that not only reflect the content of your book but that are SEO-friendly as well.
3. Book topic summary
A smart question to ask yourself is, "why does your book topic matter?" Your book topic summary should explain why this topic is needed or would be interesting to your reader.
You also want to highlight how this is a fresh take compared to whatever else might exist in the market.
4. Book details (The star of any book proposal template)
Next up is your book details section. In this section of the book proposal template, you'll want to explain the key points, angles, and takeaways from your book. What's going to make this a "must-read" for your audience?
Use the tone, voice, and style you would use to draw readers in. Imagine this is the description of your book on retail websites.
This section is essentially a showcase of how amazing your book will be. Don't forget to keep it SEO friendly!
5. Market need
Is your book relevant to a specific demographic or country? Or is it relevant globally?
This helps give the publisher an idea of the potential sales scale for your book.
6. Target readers/audience
Who is your target reader? How old are they? Where do they live? What do they do for work?
Publishers love when you are specific about who will be buying your book. Even if your book is for a "general" audience, you still want to give them a persona.
This level of detail not only helps with sales planning but also with pricing.
7. Why anyone should buy this book
What's the hook for your book? In your book proposal template, write out a powerful sentence that will "wow" your publisher (in terms of potential sales) and your reader (in terms of how this book is so amazing!).
8. Book vision
In this part of writing a book proposal, you want to share the vision you have for your book.
- How many words do you imagine it will be?
- Is your preference a paperback or hardcover?
- Will it have diagrams, illustrations, tables, etc?
- Is having it printed in color an important factor?
- Do you want to have an audiobook? (Recorded by you or an audiobook narrator)
- What do you believe is a good price point for it?
This section should clearly articulate what you envision the end product will look like.
Ah yes, in the publishing world, book competition is also considered. So do some research and list out 3 books most similar to yours in topic and price.
Next, share why your book is different or even better. Share how your book addresses the gaps or weaknesses in the competitor books you've named. A great starting point for your research is Amazon.
10. Related titles
Does your publisher already have books in their portfolio that are similar to yours? You can look at their website to see which similar books they have published.
Once you've done this, clearly list out the differences between those books and yours.
11. Sales pitch (Another key element in any book proposal template)
This section is all about highlighting how your book will sell. Share bullet points or key areas that you think will be the strongest selling platforms and angles for your book.
12. Opportunities for bulk sales
Do you have a business or platform outside of being an author where you can pursue bulk sales? Bulk sales can provide an opportunity for large quantities of your book to be sold at once.
For example, a college might decide to buy bulk copies of an academic book you have written, or a library might purchase bulk copies of your book, etc.
This also gives the publisher an idea of how you can personally contribute to the sales of your book.
13. Public speaking experience
By sharing your public speaking experience, you are showcasing an aspect of your reach to your publisher. Public speaking events are favorable when it comes to selling your book.
If the audience loves you, they'll be inclined to buy your book. And in many instances, bookers will buy your books for their audience in advance of your speaking event.
So highlight your speaking experience over the last 12 to 24 months. Share what organizations you spoke to and what the audience size was and how many speaking opportunities you had.
14. Upcoming public speaking engagements
If you have upcoming public speaking engagements be sure to list them in your book proposal template. Include details of where, who you will speak to, and how large the audience is estimated to be.
By making your publisher aware of upcoming engagements, you might be able to come up with a sales strategy together.
15. Higher education opportunities
If you are writing an academic title, be sure to list out opportunities to promote your book in the academic circuit.
16. Author platform metrics
It is also really important to highlight any other metrics around your personal or business brand that can support the promotion of your book.
What to include in this example of a book proposal would be things like:
- Social media metrics including platforms, followers, their location, and engagement
- Your website metrics e.g. monthly traffic, time on site, top pages, etc
- Your personal or business email list reach
- Any paid products or services your offer and the associated sales metrics
- Mainstream media appearances
17. Book add-on ideas
Book add-on ideas are essentially any additional component you think can be added to your book to help with its reach.
For example, downloadable worksheets, spreadsheets, a supporting online course, a dedicated book website, supporting videos, etc.
Keep in mind that add-ons cost money and time so you have to prove why they are worth adding.
18. Key endorsements
Now it's time to dig into your network to determine what influential/impactful people you have access to that could endorse your book.
It could be mentors, influencers, or other authors - the whole idea is to leverage their name and reach to provide backing for your book.
19. Book subject codes
Every published book has assigned book subject codes. Publishers can usually get this set up for you but ideally, you want to ensure your book is categorized the right way. So it's worth doing your own research.
The globally accepted book subject code standards are the Book Industry Standards And Communications (BISAC) codes.
These codes basically help describe the subject of your book so they can be categorized properly within the book industry and by booksellers.
For example, if your book is a general self-help book, it would be categorized as, SEL000000 SELF-HELP / General.
You can review the comprehensive list of BISAC codes to determine the best subject codes to suit your book.
20. Sample table of contents and sample chapters (Strongly recommended to include in your book proposal template)
Finally, to solidify your pitch, it's a good idea to include a sample table of contents and sample chapters. This will really give the publishing team reading your book proposal a taste of how amazing your writing is.
It also helps them fully understand your book's potential and gives them perspective as to how successful it could be.
A book proposal sample template
Below is an example of a book proposal template based on the details above. You can simply copy and paste it into a word document to get started on yours or use the PDF checklist version above.
Use this book proposal sample as a reference as you lay out the key points to include while writing a book proposal of your own.
- Author bio
- Book title and subtitle
- Book topic summary
- Book details
- Market need
- Target readers/audience
- Why anyone should buy this book
- Book vision
- Related titles
- Sales pitch
- Opportunities for bulk sales
- Public speaking experience
- Upcoming public speaking engagements
- Higher education opportunities
- Author platform metrics e.g. social media, website, email list, media appearances, etc.
- Book add-on ideas
- Key endorsements
- Book subject codes
- Sample table of contents/sample chapters
As a reminder, you can adjust this example of a book proposal to suit your needs. The whole idea is to write a detailed but straight-to-the-point book proposal that potential publishers can't resist!
Leverage this book proposal template to craft your own amazing proposal!
Writing a book proposal is an important aspect of getting your book published if you choose to go the traditional publishing route.
If you choose to pitch your work to publishers you want to make sure you do it the right way so you can get your hard work noticed!
The book proposal sample shared in this article is a great starting point. Be sure to get a second pair of eyes on it to proofread it and help you think through your angles. e.g. another writer or even a writing coach!
As you focus on your path to becoming an incredible author, check out our other articles on the best books for new authors and how authors get paid!