Class Introduction: What a Book Proposal Is and ISN'T


How to Write a Killer Book Proposal


Lesson Info

Class Introduction: What a Book Proposal Is and ISN'T

(audience applauding) Thank you, I am Sally McGraw and today we are gonna talk about how to write a killer book proposal. As you can tell, this is what you will look like as you're writing your killer book proposal with your coffee. Before we dig into the elements of a book proposal, let's talk about what a book proposal is and what it isn't. When you think about a book proposal in the abstract you may think, "Well, what I wanna do is tell people "what my book is about, I'm gonna summarize." That is a small aspect of what you're gonna wanna do, but really a book proposal is a marketing tool. This is something that you are going to create to convince agents and editors that they want to partner with you to get this book out into the world. It's not so much, you know, this is the story that I can tell, this is what I'm going to say. It's this is what this book could be if we work together and make it into something phenomenal and make sure that it reaches the readers that it needs to r...

each. You need to, in addition to convincing them that they are the perfect person to work with you on getting this book out into the world, you need to convince them that you're gonna work hard to make the book a success. We'll talk more about that later. There's an aspect of the book proposal that focuses specifically on marketing and the marketing that you as an author are gonna need to do, but part of the purpose of a book proposal is to say not only is this a phenomenal book, but I'm gonna work my heinie off to make sure that it does really, really, really, really well. Finally, your proposal must be customized for each person. You really need to concentrate on making sure that whenever you send it out it's just like a resume. It's gonna do so much better if the person on the receiving end knows that you've done your homework, you're addressing them personally, and you know they're actually genuinely interested in reading what you're sending them. Just a quick note on design. I'm not gonna dig too deep into that, because that could be a whole other course, but if you Google book proposal examples you will see a bunch of very boring looking Word documents. That is fine. I feel like a lot of authors think that they need to hire a graphic designer and sink a couple thousand dollars into getting a beautifully designed book proposal. Unless your book involves illustrations, lots of photography, if there is a visual component to the book itself, that obviously needs to be reflected in the proposal. But if you are writing a self help book, or a business book, or something that is very text heavy it is perfectly fine to stick to clean fonts. Times New Roman, can't go wrong with it. Don't worry about doing lots of subheads. Just keep it clean and readable and let your writing shine through. That's what you're really trying to show people, not so much your design skills. There are six basic components of a book proposal. We are gonna talk about all of them today and then dig into a couple of other sub-topics as well. The basic components of a book proposal are the overview, the target audience section, your market analysis, your biography as an author, the author platform, which is also the marketing section, and a chapter by chapter outline.

Class Description

You might have an amazing book or idea to sell, but the only way you’ll be able to seal the deal is with a strong, persuasive book proposal. Much more than just an introduction to your book, a proposal gives literary agents and acquiring editors the information they need to make the tough decision to take on your work.

Writer, editor and consultant Sally McGraw will teach you the six essential elements of a solid book proposal and how you can make your case in the most creative and convincing way possible.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Persuade rather than summarize.
  • Figure out your target audience.
  • Create a market analysis and choose comparison titles strategically.
  • Write a bio or have someone else write it for you.
  • Define your author platform and explain what you’ll do to make your book a success.
  • Create a chapter-by-chapter outline.
  • Write a short, sweet and attention-grabbing query letter.


Beth Howard

Sally's presentation was excellent. She is articulate, professional and informative. I learned some great tips about adding statistics (and how/where to find them.) I especially appreciated her guest speakers, two seasoned literary agents who added helpful perspective. More classes from her, please!

Lee-Sean Huang

I am currently in the process of preparing my own book proposal. Sally's class is concise and super helpful in breaking down the elements and considerations needed to be awesome. I feel like I will be coming back to re-watch this while I prepare my proposal.