How to Write a Killer Book Proposal

Lesson 8/11 - Your Chapter-By-Chapter Outline


How to Write a Killer Book Proposal


Lesson Info

Your Chapter-By-Chapter Outline

And now, final book proposal section, Chapter-by-Chapter Outline, as previewed for us by Christina. This section is pretty self explanatory. So basically, you want to show, as Christina said, that you've thought this book through. You know how it's going to begin, what's happening in the middle, and when it's at the end, and it has a logical flow. So this is not just, you are gonna do literally a summary of each and every chapter, but you also want to show that you've thought through the structure, and that it's solid, and that it flows well. So, you want about two to four sentences per chapter, in your Chapter-by-Chapter Outline, pull out the most interesting, outrageous, or unusual points and events, you do not have to necessarily talk about every single idea that is revealed in the chapter, stick to the highlights. Many literary agents are gonna want chapter samples from your manuscript anyway, so that's another reason why you can keep this pretty high level. You don't need to give ...

'em big chunky descriptions; keep it kind of short and sweet. There you go. You don't necessarily need to dig deep here; just keep it high level. And again, as much of the proposal will be, you want to write this like sell copy. These little blurbs, think about them as selling each individual chapter. Why is this chapter amazing? What does it contribute to the book overall? What about it is unique or compelling? Talk about the content of your book, as if you're trying to convince someone that they want to keep reading it, and just dig deeper. Let's look at a couple of examples here. So, this is a book on Ayurvedic Healing Techniques, which is sort of an offshoot of Yoga, and in this Chapter-by-Chapter Outline, we include the Introduction. If you have an Introduction section, include that in your outline, and talk about what happens in it. So, the book opens with a discussion of the global self-care crisis that has people everywhere falling out of touch with their bodies. A short discussion of how the book will help readers understand their needs and build new behaviors follows. Two sentences; short and sweet. Chapter 1: Ayurveda 101. The basic principles of Ayurveda are outlined, including the Maha Gunas and basics of tridoshic theory. Helpful charts and easy quizzes help the reader decipher where she/he fits into this overarching structure. Chapter 2: Let Food Be Thy Medicine. Next, we delve into how food works harmoniously with the energy of the body's systems. Which foods augment or balance each dosha, how to enhance immunity through dietetic choices, and the concept of agni are all explored. So, you can do a couple lists. You can say we're gonna touch on this, this, and this, and you can say, this is the idea that is tying this entire chapter together. I have seen, really long meaty Chapter-by-Chapter Outlines, and in some cases that works. If this were a fiction book, this would be completely different, but if you're doing a teaching, learning, self-help type book, or something that's strictly informational, you can definitely keep it very short and sweet here, so. So when you were talking about the author bio, at that level, would that bio that you do to pitch your book also be something that you would use as promotional copy on your author website as well, or would it be a different kind of author bio? No, well, I guess it sort of depends on how heavily you lean in to, I'm the perfect person to write this book. Like, with Christina's bio, that was a professional bio. She does use that on her website. It could be repurposed to pitch her as a capable author to a literary agent because she's got a really impressive resume. The bio for the memoir might not work quite as well. You might want to craft that a little bit differently, but there's nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with, if you craft a fantastic bio for your book proposal, you can repurpose that for other, for your website, for your social media. It can definitely be used in other places.

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.