Planning Your Book

When planning your book, keep in mind:

Planning Your Book

  • Where does my proposed book fit in terms of category? If you say, “There’s nothing like my book, which doesn’t really fit in one primary category,” a publisher will have difficulty knowing how to sell. Whether fiction or nonfiction, books may span categories, but typically are listed under one primary category in either an actual or virtual bookstore. Tip: When planning your book, look at the categories in a bookstore or online.
  • Traditional publishing is a business. Although it’s not much fun to think about the business of your book, if you want readers (besides your mother or your cat), you might think about the business aspects. For example, you can have the best book idea in the world, or be the best writer in history, but if there is no market for your book, a traditional publisher will not be interested. Tip: Look for comparable books and who published them.
  • Do I have enough material for a book? In order to be viable for sales, most books need to be a minimum length or number of pages. Besides poetry, most people are not going to pay for a 20 page book, and may consider that to be a pamphlet. Tip: When planning your book, imagine your finished book and what might be in it. If it’s nonfiction, consider the chapters. If it’s fiction, consider the length of the story and, for example, how many plot twists, character developments, and “reveals” that might be needed to effectively tell your story.
  • Do I need to start with a book proposal? If you are planning to submit your manuscript to a traditional publisher, most nonfiction books are sold with a book proposal which can include an overview, outline, sample chapters, as well as other information. Tip: General information about book proposals:

Noniction Proposal Outline

  1. Cover Sheet
  2. Overview
  3. About the Author
  4. The Market/Audience
  5. Promotion and Publicity: Marketing the Book
  6. Competing Titles
  7. Expanded Table of Contents
  8. Sample Chapters
  9. Additional materials (such as press clippings or links)

Fiction Proposal Outline

  1. Cover Sheet
  2. Table of Contents
  3. The Market/Audience
  4. Marketing of the Book
  5. Promotion and Publicity
  6. Author’s Promotion
  7. About the Author
  8. Synopsis
  9. Chapter Outlines
  10. Two Sample Chapters (or Synopsis)