Almost every successful author has a horror story concerning rejections by major publishers. However, you must put yourself in the publisher's shoes. The publisher's business is selling books. The company acquires manuscripts which it hopes will sell…well. A publisher finances the publishing of your book. In the case of self-publishing, you are financing its publication, therefore your book proposal needs to emphasize the ways in which you, as the writer and publisher, will take responsibility for the book's success.
All things being equal, the only way to ensure the success of your book is by measuring the marketplace–working out who the likely buyers of your book might be, and the reasons they will have for paying their hard-earned money for it. You'll assess the competition for your book. You'll develop ways in which you can promote your book, so that people hear about it. You're in partnership with yourself (your publisher). As a publisher, you must objectively ask and answer the question, “Would I invest in this manuscript?”
But let's suppose your manuscript is already written or your book is already published. You'll still need to create a proposal. The purpose of the proposal is to ensure that your book has a waiting niche– a marketplace that is ready and willing to buy it. As you research various components for your proposal, you'll be able to determine whether or not your book is likely to sell or develop ways to make it sell. This is easier to do when the book is at the proposal stage but it is not impossible to do after it is written or even published.
Michael Hyatt, former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, is the author of two books, How to Write a Winning Non-Fiction Book Proposal and How to Write a Winning Fiction Book Proposal.
He askes, "How can you secure a book contract from a publisher?" According to Hyatt:
- It’s not about having a great book idea.
- It’s not about writing a literary masterpiece.
- It’s not even about knowing the right people.
The real secret to securing a book contract is knowing how to write a powerful, compelling book proposal that leaves agents begging to represent you—and publishers eager to sign you.