The Irresistable Book Proposal

The main thing to keep in mind is to make publishers an offer that they can’t refuse.  The book proposal is a selling tool.   It should use as few words as possible to generate as much enthusiasm as possible.  Think of it as a map.  A solid outline will enable you to see where you are going.


Books are sold in one of two ways. A complete manuscript is usually required for novels, especially first ones.  But if you prove that you can research, organise and write non-fiction , you can sell a book with a proposal consisting of an introduction, chapter-by-chapter outline and two sample chapters.


For non-fiction or how-to books, the introduction has 3 parts … Overview, Resources needed to Complete the book, and About the Author.  The first page should have only 2 paragraphs. Start half-way down the page and HOOK the editor with the single, most exciting, compelling thing you can say about the subject.  The 2nd paragraph includes the title – which must sell – and sub-title if you need one. Also your contact details.   If it is non-fiction,your first sentence should be:  The “title of book”  will be the very first book to ….


I have sold my 13 books to date  (novels, poetry, memoir) by sending  an irresistable first sentence, an exciting “About the Author” page – and remember, this is no place to be modest about your achievements – and at least 2 sample chapters.  Don’t overwhelm the Acquiring Editor with too much. If they like what you have sent them, they will ask for more.  Tell them if you have a complete manuscript or, if not, how long it will take you to complete it.  Don’t start by asking for an advance to do the work – that will be discussed much, much later into the process.


Revise your proposal until you are convinced that it is as well- conceived  and crafted as you can make it. Do your market research to ensure that it fits into the category that interests that particular publisher.  An agent is of course helpful , although in my own case – except for one book –  I have approached the publisher direct and built up a relationship in that way.  Simultaneus submissions are permitted as long as you are honest and admit that your proosal has gone out to other sources as well.


Good luck and good writing!


3 thoughts on “The Irresistable Book Proposal

  1. Carrie Burns says:

    Hi Dvora,

    Nice blog—what a help you are to others. I hope you are well in spite of the challenges lately. I am staying in Jerusalem now with my friend Lesley and somehow we managed to hear the sirens and the boom! last night. Such a shame, but we are strong, the bad guys in the world are getting worse, and many whose eyes were not open to this are now seeing. But look what it takes.

    You are such an encourager. Thank you for your good words.

    Love, Carrie

  2. Dorothy OBrien says:

    Dearest Dvora

    I think of you everyday hoping that all is well for you, all your family and friends amidst all the rocket fire.

    Dvora, unfortunately, computer ‘troubles’ have meant that I have lost your email contact for now, but I did want to send to you a beautiful photo of Bobbie out to lunch with Wendy and friends and if you could please respond from your email address and I will send it to you.

    Also, you probably know that Kylie is having an afternoon tea on Sunday, 14 September (3.00 pm – 5.00 pm) and I would love to be able to stream you on Skype so you are there too.

    Always with love from your adoring niece…Dorothy xx

    Sent from my iPad


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