Freelancers have a ton of options. You can ghostwrite, you can contribute to magazines and websites, you can start your own blog/business, you can work as a copywriter, write reviews, focus on your own works of fiction and write non-fiction books.

 

So far I have experience in writing for websites, blogs, and magazines and now recently I’ve started delving in the exciting world of book proposals. I submitted my first book proposal a few days ago. It was about my time as a seasonal worker and I had configured it as a travel guide. As this was my first legit solo book proposal, I’m sure there were a few things I could have done better but at the end of the day, you can only agonize over form and content until it becomes counter productive.

 

 

From my research and my own experience, a solid non-fiction book proposal needs a few things:

 

Cover Letter/Synopsis

Self explanatory. A book proposal needs an introduction to the book, who you are and what all is included in your proposal.

 

An Outline of the Chapters

From what I’ve read, a book proposal needs not only an outline of chapters but a thesis of each chapter. A small blurb covering what each chapter will contain. Here’s my blurb for my first chapter:

 

Chapter 1: How to Go on Vacation and Never Come Back

I, like a lot of college graduates, in 2012 found myself in the “real” world without a clue of what to do next. I had my degree, four years of experiences behind me, and one school trip to India stamped in my passport.  I moved to Chicago and got a job as a barista. Little did I know that my roommate in Chicago would get me into the world of seasonal work, and I would embark on a lifelong vacation, traveling, meeting amazing vagabonds like myself and fueling my wanderlust.

 

 

A Little Bit About Marketing and Competition

You want your editor to know that you’ve done your research. That you’ve looked into the market and know what books yours will compete against. What makes your idea stand out. Since my proposal was for a travel guide/memoir, I included this is my overview:

 

You can find hundreds of travel memoirs, blogs, and websites. And with the right angle, a travel memoir can be wildly successful. Just look at Wild, or Eat, Pray, Love. But most travel memoirs are escapist only, offering glimpses into worlds you need ungodly incomes to experience, or even if you can backpack around the world on less $20 a day, you still need time to make it work. And finding the time and money to travel can be an impossible feat, unless you look into Seasonal Work.

 

Why It’s important, and Why You Are The Best Person to Write It

 

What makes you the best candidate, why are you writing this book and what makes you an expert? These are just a few things to include in your overview and introduction to best promote you. Here is what I wrote to give credibility to my proposal:

 

I’ve spent two summers in Alaska, have a travel blog about my experiences, and I have a large network of travelers living outside of their comfort zones, breaking barriers, trying new experiences, and doing things most of us could only fantasize about. My experience as a travel writer and as someone who has lived the seasonal life will give this book authenticity. By telling my humorous stories and writing about the good, the bad, and the wet and gloomy, this won’t just be another travel memoir or “how to live your dream” book. More of an amalgamation of the two. 

 

The First Chapter or So  

And lastly it’s a good idea to include the first chapter or some actual content from the book itself. It serves to give more of a complete picture for your proposal and shows that you are serious about the book because you’ve already started it.

 

There you have it, a brief (very brief) outline of what to expect while writing your first book proposal. There are tons of helpful tools out there online and in print to help with your proposal from set up to send off, but this is just a little look at what I learned from my first proposal.

 

How about you, did I miss anything? What’s your book proposal experience?

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