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Your Nonfiction Book Proposal (part 1 of 3)

You labored for months, even years, on your great nonfiction book. Do not celebrate yet. An editor from a major publishing house is asking for your book proposal. Now here is where it is going to be a make or break. Your proposal plays a major factor in putting your nonfiction on the bookshelves along with the works of Malcolm Gladwell and Gretchen Rubin. Your proposal reflects how well you know your own work and your target audience. Consider your proposal as your ticket to the big league.

Most of the time, an editor that solicits a book proposal will send you the guideline. Read it carefully. Guidelines vary from one publisher to another. Therefore, you may want to tweak your proposal to adhere to a specific publisher. Consider your topic, especially. A memoir publisher has a different guideline to that of a self-help publisher. However, do not wait for an editor or publisher to ask your proposal. As soon as you finish your book, write the proposal to get you ready once an editor or publisher asks you for one. A common mistake among novice writers is the notion that a book proposal can be written in one sitting. Maybe, maybe not. It depends on how prolific you are. But the norm is that a carefully-crafted book proposal takes days to write, even weeks. Your book proposal must take precedence over the query letter and the manuscript when it comes to submissions. Considering that guidelines have specific requirements, your proposal must not lose its uniqueness. It must hook the publisher into believing that your book is worth the financial risk. Consider these elements when writing a book proposal for your nonfiction:

The Title Page: Here, the publisher is introduced to your book title and your contact information. It also includes the literary agency representing you if you have one. Formatting requires a centered text. Avoid using graphics or outrageous fonts. Remember that it is a book proposal, not an invitation card to a children’s party. Make it businesslike by making it look straight to the point. The second page should contain the table of contents. This is where you provide a brief listing or points such as the summary, your short bio, target audience, competition, promotional strategies, marketing phases, outline, and sample chapters. Traditionally, these are often the points that authors would include. For first-time authors, providing a sample of your work is the norm for the publisher to see how well you handle the subject. For established authors, writing samples are not necessary.

The Summary: This is the section where you provide a summary of your book. The summary is essential because this reflects how you approach your subject. It is in the summary where the publishing house would come up with an effective blurb for the back of your book. The first sentence must catch the editor’s attention. Most editors will stop reading after one or two paragraphs. Summarizing your work is a form of selling to busy people. Here you talk about your ability to win an audience and why this book deserves a space in bookstores.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Vincent Dublado