Want to Write a Book? Start By Writing a Book Proposal.

Want to Write a Book? Start By Writing a Book Proposal.
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NCAA-writing As a writer, people ask me all the time for advice on writing books.

They want to know how I found a publisher (they came to me), how my books have been successful (they are good books) and how to market them (hustle, hustle, hustle).

Here is a conversation I have at almost every conference I now attend. The hope is that it'll help you get going with that book you are itching to write.

"So C.C. I want to write a book. What advice can you give me?"

"How much do you already have written?"

"None."

"Ok, do you at least have an idea?"

"Not exactly. I see everyone else writing books and I figure it would be a good thing for me. You know to help me speak more and get more business. Plus, I've always wanted to write a book."

"Publishing a book is an amazing thing, but writing one is not as sexy as everyone makes it out to be. It takes a lot of work and lonely time at the computer."

"Yeah, I've heard that."

"I'll tell you what I tell everyone else. If you want to write a book, start by writing a book proposal."

"Why would I do that? I might just self publish."

"Because, by writing out the book proposal it'll let you know if you have a big enough idea for a book. Writing a blog post or magazine article about an idea is much easier than seventy thousand plus words for a book."

"That is a lot of words. I better think about this some more."

Every publisher has a different template that they might give you to write a book proposal for them, but they all contain the same basic information.

The key elements of a good book proposal are:

  1. Title and subtitle 
  2. A brief overview of the book in a single paragraph
  3. Detailed explanation of the book with a possible table of contents. The more details you can provide, the better, because it will show that you have more than just an idea.
  4. A marketing plan for how you will market and sell your book.
  5. Several books that would be viewed as competition to yours.

Once you have all of this done you'll know if you have a real book idea or not.

Trust me when I say this is harder than you would imagine, but if you can't make it through doing this, you'll never make it through writing your first book.

To get you started, my publisher Wiley said I could share their book proposal template.

Now go get writing!