David and Charles is a publisher of high-quality illustrated instructional books. Do you have an idea for a book that fits this brief that you’d like to pitch to us? We’d love to hear it! To help you create a book proposal that stands the best chance of success, we’ve created the following eight-point guide to preparing your pitch.
The best place to start is by looking at the landscape into which your book will fit. What other books are published on this subject or in a similar vein? Which are the highest-ranking titles? Can you speculate as to why you think they have been successful? What can you learn from that for your book proposal?
2. Unique Selling Point(s)
This is perhaps the most important consideration when working on a book proposal. What will make your book different and better than everything else out there (see point 1)? Think in terms of superlatives (… the biggest, the only, the most comprehensive, the most concise…). If the sentence(s) you come up with could apply to another book that’s already been published, then the USP is probably not strong enough.
3. Target Audience
The next key factor is identifying your target customer(s). You must understand who the book is aimed at so you can tailor it to them. What age/gender/demographic are they? What are their priorities and interests? How will you make sure your book appeals to them? Which category shelf in the bookstore will it go? Note: if it’s more than one, it’s probably neither.
4. Evidence of Need
Why does the world need your book? What need is it fulfilling that no other book has already met? What data or other evidence is there to support the need for this book? Can you show clear trends, media interest, hashtags or other metrics that prove your point?
5. Synopsis and Content Outline
The synopsis is the elevator pitch for your book. Having identified the target customer (see point 3), imagine they are browsing an online bookstore and comes across your book. Write copy that will grab their attention and compel them to hit the Buy button. 300–400 words is ideal – tell them why they need this book and how it will benefit them, making sure you get the USP across (see point 2). Follow this with a brief outline of the contents of the book, such as project list etc.
6. Title and Subtitle
It’s good to have a book title in mind, as this can help cement the idea into something more tangible. It should be crystal clear what the book is about from the title and sub title. What are the main keywords associated with your book idea and how can you weave them into the title and subtitle? How many projects or ideas are there? If it’s a big number, try to use that as it instantly adds value. Keep it punchy. And finally, even if you think you’ve nailed the title, don’t get too attached – titles can often change during the development of a concept.
7. Why You?
What qualifies you as the author of this book? What is the size of your existing audience (on social media, online or in real life)? How engaged are they? Does this audience tally with your target customer (see point 3)? How will you be working to grow your audience? How will you work to promote the book to your audience and beyond?
8. And last but by no means least… Images
It may be a cliché but it’s true, especially in illustrated publishing: a picture really is worth a thousand words. Ensure you provide plenty of visual information in your book proposal. You don’t need professional photos – but we do need to see, in some detail, examples of the kind of artwork/projects that you are proposing would appear in the book. If you haven’t written it yet you may not have the actual final pieces, but if you are well qualified as the author (see point 7) you will have work in a similar style or nature to what you are proposing. Mood boards are also a great tool to help show us the visual style you have in mind. Use images to sell the concept to us as much as, if not more than, you do with the words.
We receive a large number of proposals, and regrettably it is not always possible to respond to every one, but we will review your pitch and try to offer some feedback if the book proposal has been well-executed following the above guidelines. Please send book proposals directly to firstname.lastname@example.org and feel free to drop Ame a line if you have any questions on the points above.