Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tips for Writing a Solid Book Proposal

Writing a book proposal can be a difficult and time-consuming task, but if approached in a planned, systematic way the process should go smoothly. I offer here some basic tips for writing a good textbook proposal.

  • If you don't have a copy of the proposal guidelines from the publishers you're targeting, get one. Nearly all publishers post detailed guidelines on their websites. Here are major healthcare publishers and their proposal pages (accurate as of this posting):

  • When discussing the market, be sure to identify your primary market and why members of this market would choose your book over currently available texts. Cite examples and significant trends whenever possible.

  • Don't tell the editor how wonderful your book will be and how it will be perfect for everyone. No book is perfect for everyone, not even the most fantastic novel ever written, whatever that may be. Every book, including yours, must be aimed at one or more particular markets, and you need to be able to explain exactly why your book will meet the needs of those markets.

  • Describe each feature in clear detail. Basically a feature is something that we can readily promote in marketing materials, such as critical-thinking activities, testing exercises, recurring sidebars, and study outlines. Features don’t include being up-to-date; that’s something that every reader expects of a newly published book. Being accurate isn’t a feature either, for the same reason.

  • Although your book is designed to be unique, it’s important for the editor to hear how you see your book being positioned among the various competitors. You should always include a brief comparison of each competitor. Be sure to list the author, title, edition number, publisher, copyright date, number of pages, and list price for each competitor.

  • Don't forget to talk about the ancillaries that will complete the learning package. Ancillaries include instructor’s guides, accompanying software, PowerPoint presentations, and other supplemental materials that enhance the marketability of the text.

As difficult as it may be to write a winning proposal, keep in mind that it ain't nuttin' compared with writing the book itself!