Writing Nonfiction Books (Part 15)

A book proposal is comprised of five parts:

  1.   A cover letter
  2.   A detailed chapter outline or synopsis
  3.   A competition analysis
  4.   Two or three sample chapters
  5.   A marketing plan

The Cover or Query Letter should basically answer four questions:

  1. Why are you qualified to write this book?
  2. What is it about (told in one paragraph)?
  3. Who is your audience?
  4. Why will this book be marketable?

Also, make sure the publisher realizes you are familiar with their house and sees that your book will fit into one of their book lines. This letter should be only one typewritten page if possible. The problem with most cover letters (and with most book proposals in general) is that they are too long and cumbersome.

I use the term cover letter and query letter interchangeably, because your cover letter should be a strong as your query letter. If your proposal makes it to committee, and I’ll talk about that later, most of the committee members will only read your cover letter. It’s quality can make or break a contract!