How to Write an Overview for Your Book’s Business Plan or Proposal

This post is a blogged draft excerpt from The Author Training Manual (Writer’s Digest Books, March 2014). Read the previous blogged excerpt, here.

How to write an OverviewIf you have followed the posts related to Step #2 in the Author Training process, Find Out If You Know What Your Book’s About and Why Someone Would Want to Read (Buy) It, you are now ready to write your Overview. (You can find the related posts here.)

To finish the Overview take the 150-300 word book summary or description you wrote earlier, your book pitch, and list of book benefits, and combine them into one document you will place at the beginning of your business plan. If you prefer, you can create a description of your book that crafts all these elements together into 350-500 words of compelling marketing copy more like what might be found in at the start of a book proposal. Later, when you have compiled the information on your markets, competition, table of contents, and chapter summaries, you will return to this document to add or revise this information.

Special Features

If you plan to include any special features in your book, describe these in your Overview as well. These are things like:

  • End-of-chapter questions
  • Epigraphs
  • Meditations
  • Tips
  • Exercises

When you are done, you should have a two-page document that accurately describes your book. It should read like marketing copy. It should sell your book.

Final Questions

Read your Overview carefully. Ask yourself if this is the book you plan to write—and want to write. Ask yourself if you think readers want this book—or, better yet, need to read this book.  Does it address their interests? Does it answer their real question: What’s in it for me (WIIFM) ? Ask yourself it this document provides enough compelling information to make a venture capital partner (a publisher) want to read the rest of your business plan, and if it provides enough justification for the writing and publishing of your project to entice a publisher, were you to seek one, to ask to see more.

If so, you’ve competed the first step in the proposal process and are on your way to conceiving a successful book. If not, your idea may have a low likelihood of success at this point, which means you need to go back to the drawing board. You might need to revise your idea, find another use for it or start fresh.

What To Do If You Have Difficulty Writing an Overview

If you find yourself unable to compose an Overview:

  • You still don’t know what your book is about.
  • Your idea isn’t viable.
  • You’re not excited about the subject.
  • You haven’t done enough research.
  • You aren’t willing to be objective about your idea.
  • You aren’t approaching your idea with an Author Attitude.

You need to find the source of the problem and resolve it, give up on this particular idea, or come up with a new idea. If you need help learning to evaluate your idea objectively, considering hiring a professional book doctor or coach or an author coach. Asking someone with a different perspective than yours to look at the “big picture” can help you find the answers you seek—a new angle or theme to your book idea, or even a new market or structure. They may have the objectivity you lack and maybe be able to see your idea from a business perspective.

Hopefully at this point you can answer this question: “What is my book about and why would someone want to read (buy) it?” That means you know what benefit your book will provide readers and when you begin writing you’ll know what commitments to keep to them. Plus, any time someone asks you what your book is about, you can tell them—and it won’t take three to five minutes to do so. It also means you’ve trained yourself to think like a successful author. You’ve begun to look at your project with an Author Attitude. Woot!

The Author Training ManualNote: You can read additional blogged draft excerpts from my new book, The Author Training Manual (Writer’s Digest Books, March 2014) here. Only select pieces from the manuscript, a “working draft,” were posted—not the complete manuscript. Read the next post in the The Author Training Manual blogged-book series by clicking here. Purchase the book on, or at

LeaLearn how to become a successful authorrn how to create a successful book—one that sells to publishers and to readers—by developing an AUTHOR ATTITUDE and writing a BUSINESS PLAN for a MARKETABLE BOOK. Register for the AUTHOR TRAINING 101 Home-Study Course, and go from aspiring to successful published author! This course is based on The Author Training Manual. If you like what you’ve read here, you’ll love the course.

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