Nonfiction writers must have more than a good idea to land a traditional publishing deal. In fact, I could list numerous things aspiring nonfiction authors must do to convince an acquisitions editor to offer them a contract for a book idea. However, when it’s all said and done, one thing above all others sells a nonfiction book idea: a high degree of marketability. You must be able to prove readers will purchase your book once published or else you’ll have a hard time selling your book concept to a publisher.
Your Nonfiction Book Proposal
A proposal is a necessity when it comes to selling a nonfiction book of any type (including memoir) to a traditional publishing house or to a literary agent for this exact reason. They want you to provide proof that your project is a viable business proposition, which means the publisher will make the money it invests both in your advance (on sales) and in production and distribution costs back in future book sales. If you can’t show that this is at least a possibility, then the publisher will not be interested in financially backing your project.
Every section of your nonfiction book proposal must speak to your book’s marketability. This is what I focus upon when I consult with clients about their proposals or edit a proposal for clients.That means it must convince a literary agent, first, and an acquisitions editor, second, that your project has the capacity to succeed in your category. If you do that, an agent will take you on as a client and go to bat for you and your book idea with a publisher. A publisher will then be more likely to give you and your idea serious consideration.
Providing Proof of Marketability
While a book proposal offers you many opportunities to prove the marketability of your book project, here are four areas upon which you need to focus:
- You must prove your book idea has the potential to sell large numbers of copies to the audience you identify—your market. And that market must also be large enough or interested enough to make the project viable.
- You must prove your book idea is unique and necessary compared to the competition. It must stand out from competing books in its category. It must offer something new and different—something compelling—so readers choose your book over other available choices.
- You be marketable a well. When an acquisitions editor reads about you as an author, it must be obvious that you possess the expertise to write your book.
- You must have the ability and willingness to help sell your book. This is achieved by building author platform and developing a strong promotion plan.
Here’s an additional tip: Evaluate every sentence in your proposal, including your book’s table of contents and chapter summaries, for marketability. Don’t give an agent or acquisitions editor any reason to doubt that your book will have readers running to the register to purchase it.
Learn more about how to assess the marketability of your book idea when you register for the Author Training 101 home-study course. Discover how to see your idea and yourself through the lens of an acquisitions editor so you can go from aspiring author to published successful author sooner than you thought possible. To learn more, or to register, click here.
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