Approaching Publishers to Publish Your Nonfiction Work

Have an idea for a great nonfiction book? Before you even think of approaching a publisher or other collaborating authors, you’ll need a well-organized book proposal. Don’t stress out about the exact formatting, as long as you hit all the points below and if your idea is good you will be successful!

Begin with the title of your book. This doesn’t have to be set in stone, but you should think of something catchy that captures the main topic of your book. For example: How to Write a Book Proposal, by ACMAC

In one or two paragraphs, summarize the book. What topics will it cover, what resources will it utilize, what sources will it draw upon? Who is your intended audience? This is the most important part of your proposal!

Make it interesting, but as brief as possible since you want to leave your publisher wanting more.

In the next section you should review competing books on the same topic. How widely available are these books? Who publishes them? How is your book unique, different, and better than all the other books out there on this topic?

Optional: Table of Contents. If you’ve spent some time thinking about your book, you should be able to come up with a preliminary table of contents. This will not be set in stone, but it will give the publisher an idea of how you plan to organize the book.

Your bio: End the proposal with a one to two paragraph biography, and a list of your previous publications (if any). Why are you the best person to write this book? Focus your bio on things that are relevant to the topic of your book. Having a few topic specific publications under your belt will prove that you can finish a project and will provide a sample of your writing.

Optional: Sample Chapter. You don’t have to have the entire book written before submitting a proposal. It is nevertheless helpful if you can write the introduction or one of the body chapters to include with the proposal. This proves to the publisher that you can write and that you know your topic.

It also gives them a better idea of what the final product will look like.

Optional: Writing Sample. If you don’t have a sample chapter ready to go, you should submit a writing sample. This can be a prior publication, an essay, or anything else that shows off your writing ability.

Optional: Letters of recommendation/support. If any well-known authors have promised to support your work or contribute to the final product, a letter of support from them will give your proposal added legitimacy.

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