A few weeks ago on my blog, I talked about how a personal synopsis, or breakdown, of your novel can be a useful planning tool and map to help you complete your novel. See here. I mentioned that a synopsis for an agent or editor is slightly different and should be kept to an A4 side of paper. A book proposal for a non-fiction book is not the same as a synopsis. Today I thought I would explain how and why non-fiction book proposals are different.
When writing non-fiction books you do not necessarily have to finish the book before you submit your idea. If the idea has not been commissioned in-house you will need to give the publishers an idea of the layout of the book and why you are the best person for the job. In my opinion, the last bit is the hardest part.
Very recently, I was one of the winners of the July 2019 Slushpile Challenge. For the challenge we were asked to submit:
- Outline of the book, including why you think there is space for it out there
- Some market research on competing titles in the market-place, which might include publisher, pub date etc
- Target readership, including (if applicable) any syllabus/key stage tie-in
- Why you are the writer to tell this story
- A sample of up to 2500 words of text (give or take) from your proposed narrative non-fiction title.
This is exactly the same sort of information you need to send to a publisher for a non-fiction book proposal, whether it is creative non-fiction or not. I suggest you use these headings to help you. In the outline of the book I usually include a chapter breakdown.
Many of my books are published by QED one of the many imprints of Quarto.
Quarto provide submission guidelines online, which give an excellent idea of what you need to include in more detail. Each division has its own editorial focus.
If you don’t know what publisher might be best suited to the type of book you want to write, it is a good idea to take a look at the Writers & Artists Yearbook. There is a version specifically on writing for children.