This is the third and final article in the "My Road to Publishing" series. The first two article are Why Aren't You Published Yet? and The Pre-publishing Checklist.
Each publishing house and literary agency has their own unique manuscript submission guidelines. A good book proposal incorporates the following elements:
Cover Letter: Write a cover letter that is informative, interesting, succinct, and has no grammatical errors or typos.
Title Page: Make it attractive, but keep it simple. Include the working title of your proposed book. Be sure to include your contact information—name, address, phone number, and email address.
Proposal TOC: Provide a short table of contents for the proposal itself.
Objective: Draft an objective statement that tells the publisher in a concise form about the premise of the book, who the targeted market is, and mentions a little about the author.
Overview of the Work: Weave together a one or two paragraph synopsis for your work that discusses in brief what the book entails.
Competitive Works: Emphasize what’s new and different about your work, your approach, or both. Compare and contrast perhaps a half dozen other titles, clearly describing the similarities and differences. Be sure to point out why your book is unlike anything else and perhaps better than what is presently available.
Audience: Research the demographics and statistics of potential readers. Describe the intended audience; discuss why the book will be interesting to them; and deliberate ways to reach them.
Publicity Plan: Discuss the kind of experience you have as an author and with the media, and how you might be able to assist a publisher in marketing your book. This could include: setting up and maintaining a website; making and uploading a video trailer for the book; writing and syndicating a blog; participating in online book clubs such as Goodreads and LibraryThing to enhance visibility; creating fan following through social networking programs such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter; and Pinterest; ideas for speaking engagements; writing and submitting print and online articles to target your readers; attending conventions, book fairs, and other events; giving presentations at local libraries, bookstores, and other venues that carry your book.
Author Profile: Write a narrative statement of your credentials, qualifications, and reasons for writing the book. Describe any prior experience you have in writing and publishing, as well as with the media.
Manuscript TOC: Settle on a chapter outline for your book and describe/include other material such as charts, illustrations, and photos that you might use.
Manuscript (Chapter by Chapter) Overview: Some publishers require a chapter-by-chapter overview. Be prepared to write a few lines about the contents of each chapter.
Sample Chapters: Carefully choose the chapters to submit as samples. They should, of course, be well-written, intriguing, highlight important components, and showcase your writing.
Proofread carefully. Avoid technical or scientific jargon. Avoid using fancy borders and cutesy graphics. Ensure that your proposal does not contain slang expressions. Use consistent font and spacing. Lastly, format your material so it looks professional.
Hope these tips were somewhat useful. I wish you the very best in publishing! See you in print.