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The World's Best Marketing Tool: Writing a Book

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Imagine setting yourself apart from your competition once and for all. Picture yourself letting the world know you are a noteworthy authority, someone they can go to for comprehensive solutions. Imagine launching a business -- or growing one -- simply because you are now "the expert who wrote the book". Most clever business people eventually realize that writing a book and getting it published by a bona fide publisher will bring them benefits like these:

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  • Attract more clients, customers, patients and prospects
  • Announce to the world that you have attained an uncommon level of wisdom or knowledge about your topic
  • Declare you a thought leader in your subject of expertise
  • Provide a simple way to intrigue prospects and educate them on your valuable methodology
  • Open the floodgate for paid speaking and consulting contracts
  • Position you for your next career move
  • Launch a small business - or grow one rapidly
  • Brand you or your company

I have been a literary agent since 1989. My clients include 17 New York Times best sellers; I've sold more than 1,500 rights deals around the world; and trained or consulted an estimated 25,000 writers (and counting). I only work with nonfiction books and as a nonfiction agent, my role is to sell book proposals to publishers.

Related: 8 Important Steps I Follow to Write a Book a Year

A book proposal is a specific, short document that outlines what your book will be about, why you are the right person to write it, and how you will partner with your publisher to make it a success once it is published.

Here's a publishing industry insider secret that I think you should know: You should NEVER write an entire book until you have a publisher's check in your bank account.


A nonfiction book proposal is to the publishing industry what a business plan is to a venture capitalist...and for the same reason. You want someone to invest money in your dream. In this case, the publisher's investment will help you astronomically grow your business.

The proposal is the appetizer for the book that will follow, and in the USA, all nonfiction books are sold this way. (To find out how a proposal is written, and how to do it most efficiently, click here). Writing the whole book before it is sold is usually a waste of your time. You can be much more responsive to market demands if you start with just a properly executed, well-thought-out proposal. There will be plenty of time to write it later by yourself or with a collaborator or even a ghostwriter.

The 5 Basic Parts of a Book Proposal:

1. The Overview. Where you showcase what you want to write, who will buy it and why.

2. Your Bio. Here you prove that you are a subject matter expert who will zealously promote your own book.

3. The Chapter Summary. Basically, what you plan to put in each chapter so the reader can follow along smoothly.

4. The Competitive Analysis. Are there other books out there like yours? Are they selling and what does that mean to you?

5. The Marketing Plan. What exact things are you going to do to partner with your publisher to create a success?

Finally, you will need to attach a chapter or two to show you are a decent enough writer.

Related: A Simple 4-Step Process for Writing Your First Book in 100 Days

The trick is in the psychology behind those five basic parts. There are certain things that make publishers salivate and yank out their wallets. If you know what those elements are, you can easily add them to your proposal. For more on how to create a perfect book proposal, sign up for my webinar here.

Next steps are fairly straightforward. You find a literary agent who loves your idea who will then shop and place your book with the best publisher possible ("best" = most enthusiastic, most experienced with content like yours, paying the highest sum in advance). You get money up front and 9-12 months to write your masterpiece, with help and support from everyone involved. Your book comes out and voila! You have catapulted yourself and your business to the top of your industry.

Writing a proposal can take just a few days if you have a plan (and some supervision, usually!) The effects of that investment though can last a lifetime when your book transforms into an almost magical lead generator and prestige builder for you and your business.

Related: 7.1 Steps to Writing Your Book

If you're interested in learning more, I provide free educational programs to help authors move ahead. The next one is on "How to Create a Great Proposal". Click here for details.

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