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Marketing Buzz 9/01

Becoming an author could be good for business.

Want to position yourself as an expert, enhancing your exposure and credibility in the marketplace? Getting a book published is a great way to do it. But to sell a publisher on your book idea, you must first put together a winning book proposal. Just think of it as a business plan for your book. As with a real business plan, there are seven basic components:

1. Introduction: You need to sell the publisher on what your book can do for readers. For instance, how will you help readers make and save money, live healthier and longer lives, or improve their businesses?

2. Chapter Outline: Once you've determined the key benefits your book offers readers, identify some subtopics that support your overall message. Those will serve as chapters for your chapter outline.

3. Market Profile: Demonstrate how well you know the market for your book. Who, exactly, are your readers? How big is the potential market for the book? What will compel your target readers to buy your book instead of others on similar topics?

4. Competitive Profile: What similar books already exist in the market? What sets yours apart-makes it different, better and a "must publish" book compared to the others?

5. Marketing Plan: Publishers typically serve a small role in marketing your book, so if you want to persuade a publisher that your book will be a top-seller, you need to show how you can make it sell. Will you take out ads, coordinate a book signing tour or land spots on radio talk shows? Can you attract big names to get endorsements?

6. Author Profile: Who are you? And what makes you uniquely qualified to write and sell your book?

7. Sample Chapters: You should also include a couple of chapters so the publisher can get a sense of how the book will flesh out.

For more information on writing a winning proposal, read How to Write a Book Proposal (Writers Digest Books) by Michael Larsen and the 2001 Writer's Guide to Book Editors, Publishers and Literary Agents: Who They Are! What They Want! And How to Win Them Over! (Prima Publishing) by Jeff Herman.


Sean M. Lyden, principal and senior writer at The Professional Writing Firm Inc. in Kennesaw, Georgia, writes on management and marketing issues.

Sean Lyden is the CEO of Prestige Positioning (a service of The Professional Writing Firm Inc.), an Atlanta-based firm that "positions" clients as leading experts in their field-through ghost-written articles and books for publication. Clients include Morgan Stanley, IFG Securities, SunTrust Service Corp. and several professional advisory and management consulting firms nationwide.

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This article was originally published in the September 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Marketing Buzz 9/01.

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