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Book Blog: What's involved in writing a Book Proposal for a Publisher

I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring and enter a Hay House publishing competition. When I attended the Hay House Writer’s Workshop last year, I became eligible to enter a competition in which the first prize is a publishing deal with Hay House, and the second prize is a self-publishing deal with Balboa Press

I know that in my last blog I said that self-publishing my new book was the way forward. I’d forgotten about that until I read it just now!  

At first, I was a bit shy about mentioning the competition to people, because what if I put it out there that I’m entering and then I don’t win. I might end up with egg on my face. As if not winning would be some kind of massive failure. Isn’t it funny the things we tell ourselves? 

So since December I have been putting together a proposal for the competition. Most weeks, I’ve been either researching or adding to the proposal. Last week I started pulling all the information I’ve gathered together into one place. 

What’s included in a book proposal for a publisher 

All publishers have a proposal template that they require prospective authors to complete.  This one is slightly different to the one I had to complete for Kogan Page in 2012, but key elements seem to be the same, regardless of publishing house.  

If you haven’t written a proposal, here’s some of the things that need to be included. 

  • An overview of the book, including the purpose, the key messages, why I wrote the book, what I’m hoping to achieve, and any evidence that I have that there is a demand for it. 
  • About me – including my work, my previous book, magazine publications, speaking engagements, war and peace about my digital platform and network and something about my personal background.  
  • An assessment of the marketplace and a clearly defined target audience. (You’re not allowed to say ‘Everyone’ even if that’s true!)  
  • An outline of my promotion and publicity plan, my online statistics including engagement statistics, follows, shares, website visitors and the size of my email list. *
  • An analysis of other books that are likely competitors for my book, together with the reasons why people would choose to read my book instead.  
  • A Table of Contents. A summary of all the chapters and a few sample Chapters. 

 Oh yes, and I have to submit a short video to introduce myself and the book.  

*Under normal circumstances the size of the social media network and the level of engagement is a significant factor in a publisher’s decision-making criteria. Lucky for me in this competition, it is not a factor, but they still require the information. I guess they need to know my starting point at least. 

Not for the faint-hearted 

It’s not for the faint-hearted I can tell you. You’ve got to be serious about wanting a book deal to put yourself through this. And it’s not a time for being coy or bullish. I’ve gone into this with a clear mind, and without self-doubt or self-judgement, undertaken an objective assessment of all of the different elements required. Every now and again, those worms have got into my head, but overall the exercise has been extremely beneficial.   

Even if I don’t win the competition, (I mean, fingers crossed!) writing the proposal has served a purpose in its own right. If I decide to go down the route of self-publishing, all the time and effort I have put into thinking about my target audience, my marketing plan and the competitive analysis will stand me in good stead for marketing and promoting the book when it is ready.  

Anyway. The competition deadline for the proposal is 29th March 2020, so I still have a little time to polish and fine tune it. And the winner’s will be announced on 29th May 2020.  

Wish me luck. And please share this blog – it will help with my statistics!  

If you liked this blog you may be interested in some of the other blogs about my book writing journey. 


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