Tips to Make Your Book Proposal Stand Out

By Erika Hodges on Aug 2, 2019
eContent Pro
Tips to Make Your Book Proposal Stand Out

Much like the submission guidelines for a journal article, many specific components should contribute to the submission of a book proposal. Often, publishers have a specific set of proposal guidelines that they want authors to follow in order to ensure that each proposal can be held to the same standards. These guidelines are set up intentionally to easily gauge whether a project will succeed or fail. So, it can be hard to prepare a proposal that will stand out from all the others. To help combat your proposal from getting lost in the masses, eContent Pro has compiled some tips to help make a dynamic proposal that will catch the eye of prospective publishers.

Demonstrating Desire:

The components of the proposal should have the clarity of mission and concise language of the abstract, but also convey a thorough understanding of the proposed subject matter and intent of the book. This needs to be clearly demonstrated in the overview, chapter outlines or table of contents, and sample chapters. It never hurts to also do some research about the prospective publisher being contacted and squeeze that somewhere into the cover letter. Try to avoid setting up any kind of stock submission that can be plugged in with different publishers’ names and information. Spending more time and effort shows any potential publisher that thought and attention to detail were put into the proposal with their particular company in mind.


Many authors have trouble coming to terms with this, but the artfulness of the writing doesn’t always matter quite as much as the marketability of the book or the author when it comes to the proposal. Publishers need to clearly see how the book is marketable; that is, how and why people will find this book and want to buy it. It’s imperative to also clearly show the need for this work to be present in the field. How is it different than any of the work already out there? Publishers are more interested in how they are going to see the return of the thousands of dollars that they will invest in the book, and that is through sales. This look into the inner workings of the book should have the publisher begging you to let them publish your work.

Sample Chapters:

At the end of the day, submitting a book proposal boils down to an elaborate sales pitch. The need to “sell” your idea to the publisher often takes precedence over the content of the proposal itself. It’s important though not to confuse this with the idea that the content doesn’t hold any weight. Remember, the topic of the book is the whole reason to write the proposal, which brings us to the inclusion of sample chapters.

If you happen to have the entire book completed prior to submitting the proposal, never send the whole manuscript as part of the proposal. Often, the reviewers are extremely busy reviewing hundreds of proposals, so they don’t want or have time to siphon through that much material. Even if a publisher doesn’t require that sample chapters be attached to the proposal, it’s still a good idea to include them. This serves as the best chance to show your skills and knowledge in action. It’s usually not wise to include the introduction as one of the sample chapters. The components already provided should give an adequate overview similar to what would be included in the introduction. Use this opportunity to share the most impressive and substantial parts of the work to give the publishers a taste of what the meat of the book would contain.

A publisher doesn’t necessarily need to have the entire book completed prior to publication. However, that doesn’t mean the pressure’s off. There needs to be a clear plan for the manuscript. This includes proposed titles, a fairly detailed table of contents for the manuscript, and estimates of how long each chapter will be, along with a projected timeline for completion of the book.

More Resources:

Still feeling stressed about the process? Have no fear; eContent Pro offers several services that will help prepare the components of the proposal so it is ready for submission. Our experienced English Language Copy Editors provide complete and comprehensive care for your document by resolving all issues with spelling, punctuation, grammar, terminology, jargon, semantics, syntax, consistency, flow, and more.

eContent Pro also offers Scientific & Scholarly editing. The Scientific & Scholarly editors all have doctorate degrees and are active in their respective fields both in research and/or teaching. They maintain a strong command of the English language, represent very diverse research backgrounds, and reside in different parts of the world. They can help identify specific strengths and weaknesses within the document, assess its contribution to the field, and more, prior to submission. Learn more about the Scientific & Scholarly Editing service here.

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