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How to Write an Annotated Table of Contents


If you have ever dreamed of having a book published, writing a strong book proposal is the best way to help your chances. A book proposal is actually a collection of documents, which often includes an annotated table of contents. A table of contents features a summary of each chapter or portion of your book. Whether your manuscript is complete or still in progress, the annotated table of contents is one of the most important portions of a proposal because it gives the reader an understanding of the chapters of your book.

List all chapters or sections in order. Much like the table of contents inside a book, the information contained in your proposal should be an easy-to-reference pattern. This will also establish a sense of flow for your manuscript. If your chapter is named, label them here. Also, be sure to make distinctions between different parts of your book, as well as the chapters or sections within.

Summarize each chapter or book section with plot, setting and conflict. In at least several sentences, the reader should have an idea of what happens throughout the book. You can leave out some information that is not necessary, but the important points should be included. Depending on how detailed you choose to be for your proposal, each synopsis can be one paragraph to one page in length. Detail is helpful, but wordiness can make your work seem cluttered.

Organize information like an outline, including indented lists and bullet information where necessary. For example, you could start with the title “Part A.” On the second line, you could indent one space and write “Chapter One.”. You can also choose to format your sections in paragraph form, which might allow you to be more in depth. Just be sure that the information is easy to follow and well organized.

Include details that will allow understanding, but also entice the reader to keep reading. The point of a book proposal is to get a publisher interested in your work. Therefore, you will want to really wow the reader with plot or subject matter that is unlike anything she has ever read. Treat the annotated table of contents like the book itself: include enough details to grab interest, but leave out enough to keep them wanting more.

About the Author

Liza Hollis has been writing for print and online publications since 2003. Her work has appeared on various digital properties, including USAToday.com. Hollis earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Florida.

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