Take your book proposal above and beyond

In the past few weeks, we’ve talked about putting your proposal together:

What to include in a book proposal
How to write your author bio
How to write a synopsis of your novel
How to write a synopsis of your nonfiction book

That covers the minimum you can include in your proposal. But here are some extras that can take your proposal the extra mile.

Character sketches

I don’t mean drawings. Illustrations are a whole other issue. No, what I mean here is a one-paragraph outline of who your character is. Not their appearance, but their goals and motivations. Their fears, strengths, and weaknesses. Descriptions like this of the hero, heroine, and antagonist is a bonus many editors appreciate.

Sequel synopses

If your book is planned as part of a series, and you have a pretty good idea of what the stories for the other books will be, give a very brief outline of the major plot line for each sequel. Each of these mini-synopses should be 100-200 words. Put them all one page under the heading “Further stories in the (name of your series) series.” Just to brag on myself for a moment, the way I got a four-book contract for my series The Prophet’s Chronicle was by providing three synopses for the sequels, each one-third of a page long. The manuscript for Alara’s Call, book one, convinced the editor I could write a book. The sequel synopses showed that I know where the rest of the stories are going.

Ancillary Products

Include any ideas you may have for items that could be bundled with or sold alongside your book, especially for nonfiction. For example, a financial planning book might be accompanied by a package of spreadsheets that could be sold on disc or by digital download. Consider what readers of your book will need to take action on what you’re teaching them, and then describe to the editor how you’ll provide it.

Including this kind of information in the proposal demonstrates your long-term thinking—that you’re willing to go beyond the manuscript and do all that’s necessary to serve your readers.

About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

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