ABCs of a Book Proposal

I am frequently asked by writers how we decide which books we will publish. While there are an unlimited number of factors in our evaluation process, we tend to ask some basic questions about all potential acquisitions. Here is a list of our considerations which I call the ABCs of book proposals.

Agent – Is this project represented by a literary agent? A good agent makes a significant difference.
Bio – What are the author’s background, qualifications, and expertise? What qualifies this author to write on this subject? This is also a consideration with fiction.
Category – Does the category suit our imprint’s mission and experience? It may be a great project, but we may not be the best publisher for it.
Delivery date – When will the manuscript be delivered?
Ebook enhancements – We publish every book in both printed and digital forms. Are there any features or applications that will enhance the eBook edition?
Format – What is the right format for this book (trade paper, hardcover, trim size, etc.) based on content and competitive titles?
Grammar – and Punctuation and Spelling matter. How clean is the proposal?
Handle – Can you describe the concept of the book in one sentence?
Inserts – Are there any other components in addition to the manuscript (i.e., photo, charts, index)?
Juxtaposition – Does the book express a contrarian position that will attract attention?
Kraft – Do the words represent an author’s craft and skill? (Sorry, couldn’t find a better K word!)
Learning – What is the take-away value of this book? Even memoirs and fiction should teach something.
Manuscript – We want to see at least a couple of sample chapters.
Niche – Some of the biggest bestsellers are written to very targeted audiences.
Outline – If we don’t have the entire manuscript, we need a summary or outline.
Platform – What is the author’s following on social media, website, etc?
Quotes – Does the author already have endorsements that can help sell the book?
Rights – What territories and subrights are being offered?
Sales history – What are the author’s prior sales and those of comparable titles?
Title – A great title and subtitle on the proposal will make a significant impact.
Uniqueness – What is fresh about this book? Does it reveal new information, research or concepts?
Vetting – Is there anything in this book that will require lawyers to vet it?
Word count – What is the page length?
Xtreme position – Does the book express an extreme position that will attract attention?
Yield – What benefits will this book offer the reader? How does it deliver?
Zip code – Are there specific cities, regions where this book should be marketed?

Rolf Zettersten
Publisher, FaithWords/Center Street

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Rolf Zettersten launched the Warner Faith imprint in September 2001 with no backlist and a few titles under contract. But there was a passionate team of dedicated professionals, and it has been built into one of the most respected inspirational publishing programs in the industry. In the first nine years under Rolf’s direction FaithWords has sold more than 50 million books.


One Response to ABCs of a Book Proposal

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by FaithWords. FaithWords said: The ABCs of a Book Proposal: Blog post by @rolfz on the @FaithWords blog: […]

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