One of my big projects right now is putting together my next book proposal and I want to give a shout out to Michael Hyatt’s Writing a Book Proposal ebook for helping out with that process.
Hyatt in 30 electronic pages delivers very clear advice on what a book proposal should contain and how best to present it. For the complete novice, you are provided a outline of components you need to develop and the questions publishers are going to be asking when they look at your pitch.
Here were three things I was reminded of:
“Developing a good premise is one of the most difficult challenges of good writing. It is, however, absolutely vital.” – When Jack and I were starting The 100 Best Business Books of All Time, we knew the value was being able to find out about dozens of books in one place. What we struggled with an aspect of the premise: Who were we writing the reviews for?
Adrian Zackheim, our publisher at Portfolio, suggested we concentrate on the “third book buyer.” That was his description for the person familiar with the business book category, had read one or two of the classics, but got turned off by the run of the mill titles on the market.
That simple image solidified the premise for us and made the writing process much easier.
Who are the affinity groups for your book? – When I ask an author who their book is for and their answer is “Everyone,” I know there is going to be trouble. A book written for everyone is written for no one. The cliche is true.
My friend Ray Bard always asks, “Where is the felt need? Who is going to cross the street to buy your book?” Remember that books are intellectual choices people make. Authors need to make sure they are writing to a real felt need.
Ray then says “Who is going to tell their friends about the wonderful book they just found?” Natural groups already exist for the books you are going to write. They may read certain magazines (Real Simple or Popular Science). They may attend certain conventions (SXSW or ComicCon). Publishers want to see that those tribes exist and that you (yes, you) have the ability to connect with them.
What is your competition? – Ridley Scott reportedly pitched Alien with the line “Jaws in Space.” The studio knew exactly what he was talking about in three words.
Publishers want to know if there is a market for the book you are proposing . Like most media, everyone wants to release more of what already worked. But, as Hyatt points out, they also want to know how your book will differ from what is already on the market.
The ebook currently costs $19.97. The material is worth it whether you are writing a book proposal now or need some help in getting organized for the book you want to write.