The 8 Essential Elements Of Writing A Winning Book Proposal: How To Get A Book Publish

Once you have invested time (and maybe resources) in writing the nonfiction book you’ve always wanted to write, it’s time to take steps toward publishing your book. First step in catching the interest of a book agent and the book publishing company is to make them want to publish your book.

You can accomplish this with your book proposal. You want to make it easy for your book editor to identify, in a glance, what your book is about, how long it is, its target audience, who you are (credibility), etc. Your successful book proposal should contain the following elements:

Title Page

This is your cover sheet. The book’s title and the name of the author are centered in the middle of the page. In the upper left corner, type Book Proposal. In the bottom right, type your name, address and phone number (or, if you have one, your book agent’s).


Summarize what your nonfiction book is about: the topic, who will read it, why it’s important or interesting to your intended audience, and what makes your book different from others in the field.


Specify approximate word length, number of chapters, types of illustrations or graphics to be included and any unique organizational schemes or formats (for example, is your book divided into major sections or do you use sidebars?)


Tell the editor who will buy your book, how many of these people exist, and why they need it or will want to read it. Use statistics to dramatize the size of the market. For example, if your book is about infertility, mention that one in six couples in the US is infertile.

Book Promotion

Is your nonfiction book a natural for talk radio or Oprah (be realistic)? Can it be promoted through seminars or speeches to associations and clubs? Give the publishing agent some of your ideas on how the book can be marketed. (Note: Phrase these as suggestions, not demands. The publisher will be interested in your ideas but probably won’t use most of them.)


Here you list books that compare with yours. Include the title, author, publishing agent, year of publication, number of pages, price, and format (hardcover, trade paperback edition or mass market paperback). Describe each book briefly, pointing out weaknesses and areas in which your book is different and superior.

Author’s Bio

A brief biography listing your writing credentials (books and articles published), qualifications to write about the book’s topic (for instance, for a book on popular psychology, it helps if you’re a therapist), and your media experience (previous appearances on TV and radio).

Table of Contents/Outlines

A chapter-by-chapter outlines showing the contents of your proposed nonfiction book. Many editors tell me that a detailed, well thought-out table of contents in a proposal helps sway them in favor of a book.

Although a solid idea and an excellent book proposal which include all 8 essential element do not assure the success of the book or even that the book publishing company will accept it, they no doubt increases the probability of getting a book published. If either the idea or the book proposal is weak, the chances of the book sale are slim to none.