The Book Proposal: How Graphic Facilitation Can Help

The Book Proposal: How Graphic Facilitation Can Help

I used to work for a scholarly publisher, and the sad fact of the matter was that most unsolicited manuscripts were dispatched to the "Dec" (decline) pile with just a cursory glance. Some weren't even remotely suitable for publication by an academic house, others were far too narrow in scope. But some of these projects might have had a chance of moving up out of the Dec pile if they had followed the basic rules of the game: send in a) a one-or-two page book proposal with b) a table of contents and c) a sample chapter.

A book proposal is the author's chance to show the editor these four things:

  1. What your book is about
  2. Whether you are the best person to write this particular book
  3. What your writing style is like
  4. Whether your book has a chance of selling well: who is your audience? Are there enough of them? Do they tend to buy books? Do they tend to buy books in hardcover?

Books are a huge risk for a publisher. It's very expensive to take on a project that has a small chance of success. Sometimes they make big mistakes -- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was turned down twelve times before the editor at Bloomsbury picked it up -- but mostly they want to avoid costly failures. Times are tough in publishing land.

The book proposal should sell your book to an editor or agent. Do your homework -- is there anything out there in the market already like this? If yes, why and how is your idea different (and better)? Will your book appeal to more than 500 people (be honest, here)? If the answer is no, you might want to consider self-publishing, which is fine -- but you should still go through the process in order to clarify your ideas and build the strongest book possible.

A graphic facilitator can help you hone your ideas into a scheme that makes sense. Answering the four questions, above, and have them outlined live, on paper will help you craft the best possible book proposal, saving it from the dreaded Dec pile.