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Because itís more difficult to sell fiction than nonfiction, you significantly increase your chances of landing a publishing contract for a novel if you submit your manuscript with a book proposal. This is especially important if you seek a wide, national audience and are hoping for a slot on the bestseller list. An irresistible book proposal is the key to attracting the interest of the large publisher who can help you make it all happen.


A successful book proposal is essentially a superb business proposition. Your writing should be strong, confident, and hard-hitting. Since 90% of a bookís success is attributed to the authorís involvement in marketing and promotion, itís particularly vital that you show the publisher what you will do to market your book. (I will cover the authorís promotional contribution in depth in a future newsletter.)


Sections of a fiction proposal:


  1. COVER SHEET (title; authorís name, address, phone, fax, email)
  2. TABLE OF CONTENTS (include list of attachments)
  3. THE MARKET/AUDIENCE (who will buy your book? why do they want it? give statistics if possible!)
  4. MARKETING OF THE BOOK (bookstores, book clubs, Internet, clubs, associations)
  5. PROMOTION & PUBLICITY (list newspapers, magazines, TV & radio stations that the publisher should contact)
  6. AUTHORíS PROMOTIONAL CONTRIBUTION (list everything youíll do to make the book successful; be sure to include Internet sites youíll contact and all of your ideas for author appearances and events)
  7. ABOUT THE AUTHOR (your background and experience, focusing on areas that are relevant to the topic of the book)
  8. SYNOPSIS (a summary of your bookís storyóit usually includes an opening hook, quick sketches of the main character, high points of the plot, the core conflict, and the conclusion)
  9. CHAPTER OUTLINES (a running summary of your novel, chapter-by-chapter)
  10. ATTACHMENTS (exhibits that will enhance your credibility, such as literary awards and examples of your writing in well-respected publications)


In addition, the agent may request to see your first 100 pages or the first two or three chapters of your completed manuscript.


As with a nonfiction book, when youíre ready to prepare your book proposal, I suggest that you copy the proposal outline above to a Word document and leave space between each topic heading. Print this form and take it with you wherever you go. As ideas occur to you for the various sections, record them.


Two books are essential to consult in writing your fiction proposal:


Your Novel Proposal from Creation to Contract by Blythe Camenson

The Sell Your Novel Toolkit by Elizabeth Lyon


In addition to the above books, I recommend the following books for marketing ideas and a better understanding of the publishing industry:


The Shortest Distance Between You and a Published Book by Susan Page

The Portable Writersí Conference by Stephen Blake Mettee

1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer

Guerilla Marketing for Writers: 100 Weapons to Help You Sell Your Work by Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman & Michael Larsen


© 2010 June Cotner, publishing consultant and author of the bestselling Graces and Dog Blessings and 24 other books. PO Box 2765, Poulsbo, WA 98370


For more information on having your book concept analyzed or your nonfiction book proposal evaluated, please go to:


For more articles on how to get published, go to and click on "Articles on Publishing."