Book Proposals (Part 2)

This week we're discussing book proposals. In my last post I shared the first half of what went into the recent proposal I wrote. Today let's move on the second half.

Sales: This section is for those who've published a previous book. Since I'm unpublished, I left this out altogether.

Author Marketing: This is different than The Market from last post (which tells who our readers are). Instead this section tells how we'll market our books (via websites, blogs, newsletter). The proposal will look much more professional if we already have them in place. I wished I'd been able to list a website in my proposal, but unfortunately, I could only talk about my future plans to implement one.

Sequels or Future Books: My agent asked me to list between 3 to 5 ideas for future books. Since I write historical fiction, I had to research several more book ideas. The ideas were already floating around in my mind, but I had to flesh each one out in a short paragraph.

Comparable Books: In this section we want to help the editor have a big-picture understanding of our books. In order to do that, I had to find 4 to 5 novels that were similar to mine in some way, whether in setting, plot elements, or theme. For example, one of the books I picked centered around a true historic event. I explained how mine did too, but then went on to tell how mine was unique.

Characters: The challenge of this section was figuring out how to condense a description of my major characters into one sentence. My sentences were very long and run-on!

Synopsis: WordServe recommends a one or two page, single spaced summary of our books. In fact, they say: Shorter is better! I already had a synopsis on file, so fortunately I didn't have to take the time to create this too.

Sample Chapters: I included the first four chapters of each of my books. Similar to the agent process, THIS is what will determine whether or not we get a request for more. It must be polished and perfect to catch their attention.

There you have it! Those are all of the aspects that went into my book proposal. Interestingly, I'm learning not all proposals are the same nor does everyone have to write their own. Tess Hilmo commented that her agent wrote one for her. I'm not sure how common that is, but I'd say better be prepared to write your own and count yourself lucky if you don't have to!

I'm happy to report, Rachelle called to let me know the editor wanted to see the full of one of my books. So now, apparently several people will read the book, they'll have a meeting to discuss it, then make a decision if they think they can sell it.

Since this is the first publishing house, I have to remind my trembling nerves, if they don't want it, we have plenty of other publishers to try. Lots of waiting, plus many rejections, plus enormous amounts of determination equal my writing process. Hopefully some day they will all add up to publication!

What are you adding together in your writing process right now?

Have a great weekend!


  1. LOVED IT! I love that you are sharing your process right now. It's so exciting and informative to read!

    Okay...the thing that scares me most is comparables. Was that a challenge for you? Did you just pick books you'd already read, or did you go out and search for books that might be like yours?

    I'm excited to write my own proposal. I have another question for you... do book proposals usually include more than one book, like yours? For some reason, I always thought I had to create separate books proposals for each book.

    Thanks Jody!

  2. Like Katie, I love that you are sharing your journey. You are paving the way, my friend!

    For me, I am putting together words day by day. I am sooo proud to say that I have written 4000 words this week so far. A huge...HUGE...victory for me. I'm in no hurry to put together proposals, synopsis, or query letters. But I am definitely bookmarking your posts for future reference! ;)

  3. Thank you for sharing. I have just discovered your blog, and I am very glad I did. I look forward to reading your books in the future.

  4. Hi Jody,
    This has been so informative. With the comparables I heard it is good to add ways your book is different from the ones you select too.

    I didn't write up a book sequel/future books part, but love that idea!!! I have two sitting on the edge of my brain waiting to jump onto the page but I want to be a finisher and am going write about 30,000 more words of this one.

    So insightful and I saw you over at the blog party. You looked just like your picture. Beautiful! :D
    Sorry, I can be a goof!
    Have a great weekend, Jody!
    ~ Wendy

  5. Katie: I picked mostly books I've read, but one that I didn't that I'd read reviews for. I guess that's one more reason we need to read a lot in our genre. And yes, I basically had to write two proposals (but excluded the duplicate things, like author bio). Then Rachelle blended everything together really nicely. I'm so glad that you could pull a few things out of these posts for your own use!

    Sherrinda: I've been keeping up with your progress on Twitter! You are doing awesome, girl! Keep it up!!

    Heather: Thanks for stopping by. I just love to get to meet new writers!

    Wendy: You are a loveable goof! :) Glad the posts have helped. I definitely stated how my book was unique to each of the comparables; we definitely want to highlight the specialness of our stories!

  6. I'm with the girls. I think that your blog is a blessing to all those starting out in this journey. I know I've learned an enormous amount of information from you and sometimes with you.

    I hope that editor snatches your book up so they can get the publishing process started. I'm ready to read your books now!

  7. Whoa, so much work, you go girl! Much to admire.

    I, on the other hand, love my 4,000 to 5,000 word count max. Although, I will confess, a collection of all my stuff in one book, like all those writers I admire . . . hmmmm . . . right . . . ROTFL!

  8. Congrats on the Editor requesting the full! You must be so excited! Great info here on the proposal; I think that as authors, we have to readily and succinctly talk about our work, and preparing a proposal makes us even more familiar with different aspects of our story, helping to clearly discuss it.

  9. Ohhh, so excited Jody! THanks for the recap of your proposal. I hadn't thought to add a section about future book ideas. A note to myself when sprucing up my proposal!

    What am I adding up?


    Cracking the whip and just writing=
    My writing process:-)

  10. YAY that someone already wants to read your book!!!!
    I think the comarable part will be the hardest for me. I hate to research anything out.
    I just did my website so I'm glad part is done too.
    Thank you again for sharing all of this process with us!!

  11. Marybeth: Thank you so much for your sweet words of confidence! I've learned so much from everyone too!

    Rebecca: I guess I'm really in Olympic training these days! But thankfully it's written now and out of my hands!

    Joanne: I totally agree--the more parts of a proposal we can write, the more we're able to focus our stories.

    Krista: You definitely cracked the whip (WIP?) this week! Time and prayer definitely!

    Terri: Oh, you'll be so glad you got your website done! Jill gave me a ton of great info. for mine and now I'm working on it! It's a LOT of work if you design it yourself! But I'm saving the money for now!

  12. Hi Jody -

    I'm cranking up the writing machine these days. Chapter 24 is now in the editing process.

    Thanks for a clear, concise explanation on how to do a book proposal. I might even take a shot at doing one myself. :)


  13. Hey -- Happy to find your blog through Rachelle's comment party! Good stuff here -- I'll be back.

  14. Great list of things to get ready for our book proposals. I had not thought about checking other books for comparisons. Blessings on the book you are sending. I'm sure there is just the right market out there.

  15. Jody:
    Congratulations that one editor is interested in a full ms.!!! Was that fast or what? God is favoring you, dear girl, and I'm so happy for you!

    I am perfecting my proposal for my WIP "The Secret Life of a Preacher's Wife" and getting it ready to send out to an editor who wants it. His list of requirements is long, but the discipline is good for me. It should be ready to go tomorrow- yippee!

    When I'm finished with that, I will tweak it and another proposal for my finished book, "Custom Made Grace for Hope Starved Hearts" and send both to an agent who wants those, by the end of next month. So, my summer is busy.

    The comparitive market analysis is the hardest part, but you can hire people to do this for you. Camy Tang is one who does fiction. I did mine myself by going on Amazon and putting in a key word in the search, then reading the synopses of the books that were most like mine. You can also read some of the pages if they allow it. Then you just write comparisons such as, "Although both novels are set in pre-Civil war America, Ms. Hedlund's story focuses to a deeper level on two opposing families and their struggle to survive, whereas (the other title) takes a shallower look at many families." That's not very well written, but you get the idea.

    Happy Weekend,

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this! And congratulations on the full request from a publisher - how exciting! Good luck, I will be keeping my fingers crossed for you:)

  17. Susan: Great job getting through chapter 24! Sounds like your creeping closer to needing that proposal!

    Alexis: Thanks for stopping by! I'm looking forward to getting to "know" you!

    Nancy: Thanks! Glad you could find something to glean from the posts!

    Jeanette: As I was reading your comment, I just wanted to cut and paste it into today's post! You did an excellent job of explaining the comparative market analysis! What a great idea to browse through Amazon and do a key word search. EXCELLENT IDEA! I hope everyone reading the post will see your comment! And BTW, great job on making such quick progress on your editing. How exciting to actually be almost ready to send them out! Many blessings!

    Kate: I'm super nervous about the request for the full! But keep trying to remind myself, if it doesn't work out, there are always others!

  18. I love the detail you give on this. I realize that I should be thinking about all of this before I intend to query.

    And I love your new author picture - you look amazing!

  19. Hi Jody! Thanks for all of this great information. You must be on pins and needles waiting to hear from the editor!! How exciting!

    Again--love the picture!

  20. Loved your post. Thanks so much.

    Lynnette Labelle

  21. I found your blog via Rachelle's blog party (wasn't it fun?) and will definitely be back to read more. I'm "on the journey", too.

    Carol Garvin

  22. Thank you Jody for sharing the process with us. The next two weeks I am going to walk through the whole writing process with the goal to finish well.


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