Careers in writing: Tips for creating a successful book proposal.

3 min read

Career Trends: April 7, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS


Along with an interesting concept, a good book proposal should also highlight your abilities as an author and salesperson. (Image Credit: Canva)

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A book proposal is a document that you submit to a publisher outlining your proposed project, who you are, and why you should be trusted with the opportunity to write a book (i.e. why you will generate book sales). As a professional writer, you can also write proposals for other people’s books, too.

Simply having an interesting concept for a book is not enough to guarantee success. You are not just selling your idea, but also your abilities as an author and salesperson.

Here are some tips to make your book proposal impactful and maximise your chance of success:

1. Have an elevator pitch ready.

  • Neatly describe your proposed book in an ultra-condensed form, conveying the subject matter and style in just one or two sentences.
  • This is extremely useful both for the book proposal and for subsequent advertising, something the publisher will be aware of.
  • It also provides you with a mission statement while writing the book that will keep you on target.

2. Be specific about your target audience.

  • Be extremely specific about which demographics – age, gender, interests, geographies – you are aiming to reach with the book, and what learning objectives you are attempting to accomplish.
  • What pressing questions does your book answer for your target audience?

3. Provide context within literature.

  • Give examples of books you envisage your completed masterpiece being similar to. This could be in terms of subject matter but also style.
  • This not only gives the publisher clear reference points, letting them know what they are buying into but is also extremely useful when writing the book.

4. Learn from different books, even those you don’t like.

  • Along with the subject matter of your book, also consider the format and style of your proposed project.
  • The difference between a mediocre idea and one that takes the world by a storm can be how it is delivered.
  • To this end, read as widely. You will learn a great deal from the books that you find engaging but a great deal more those that you don’t enjoy.

5. Have a social media presence.

  • Having a presence on social media is a large selling point to a potential publisher and should be highlighted in your book proposal.
  • Guaranteeing several sales – especially pre-orders – from your followers is a tempting prospect, as is the ease of advertising.

6. Showcase your existing body of popular writing.

  • The objective of the book proposal is to convince a publisher that you can be trusted to write something worth publishing and that, crucially, will generate sales.
  • As such, having examples of your writing for a general audience will immediately give the publisher an idea of what you would produce for them, removing any uncertainty from their decision.

These tips can make your project appear more appealing to a potential publisher.


Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?

Can emotional intelligence be learned? 4 techniques you should know.


(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above mentioned article are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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