I once was told, “If you can’t write the subject of your book on the back of a business card, then you don’t know what you’re writing about.” So, try this simple test. Take a business card and turn it over, or cut out a piece of paper the size of a business card (2” × 3.5”) and on it write, “My book is about…” Then fill in the rest. You may not go to the other side of the paper. Write in words large enough to be read by anyone without a magnifying glass.
What’s the verdict? Do you know what your book is about?
Even if you squeezed your subject onto the back of that card, you may know what you are writing about, but does anyone want to read about it? Will anyone buy it?Is it a viable idea?
To discover the answers to these questions you must know your market. It’s also helpful to know your competition.
A huge portion of writing a nonfiction book proposal involves figuring out what your book’s about, discovering your book’s market and getting acquainted with your book’s competition. That’s why I recommend that everyone–even those writers planning on self-publishing their books–go through what I call the “nonfiction book proposal process.”
I call it a process because you don’t necessarily have to write a polished proposal if you don’t plan on submitting your manuscript to a publishing house. You can just go through the steps of compiling the information and asking yourself all the same questions necessary to complete the document. In the process you will conceiving a book idea that sells.
Then when you write down your book idea on the back of a business card you’ll know if it is, indeed, a viable idea or not.