Article: Why I Am Fussy with Book Proposals

After spending valuable time telling a potential client what she still needed to add to her proposal, I sent her a note pointing out the following:

The proposal is your marketing tool when I, as agent, present your book project to editors. You have to think of three levels of scrutiny at a publisher:

  1. The acquisitions editor. The proposal has to convince the editor that you have a book worthy of being published, that you are a fresh voice aware of what is already on the market—and what you are providing in addition to what is on the market.
  2. The marketing director: The editor needs to convince the marketing director that you have a platform, that your book will sell because you are a savvy marketer in a social media controlled world.
  3. The Publication Board: The editor has to sell your book project to the president (in some houses called the publisher), treasurer, and marketing director meeting as the Publications Board, using the info in No. 1 and No. 2.

I’ll admit that is a daunting task – and my job is to make sure your proposal has the elements needed to make that sale at the three levels before I give you an agent agreement. If you need help in preparing a book proposal there are workshops at writers conferences and always several books on doing it on the book table at conferences. I just pulled two books off my shelf that would also be helpful: Book Proposals that Sell, by W. Terry Whalin, and How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal, by Stephen Blake Mettee. Finally, turn to Submissions Guidelines on this website for details on what I am looking for in a book proposal.

2 thoughts on “Article: Why I Am Fussy with Book Proposals

  1. Thank you, Les, for this posting. When I sat with you last year at the Christian Writers’ Conference in Anderson, IN, in that brief 15 minute session you gave me the advice that was needed in order to make changes necessary and get my book published. “Between a Hard Place and a Rock” is in print and doing well. God Bless the work you do.
    Sandy Shatley

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