How to Write a Book Proposal

Updated July 12, 2018

You want to get your novel published. Or maybe you have a fabulous idea for a non-fiction book. It's time to entice an editor with a winning book proposal - an essential step in getting your book published.

Find out the name, phone number and address of a publisher who markets the type of book you wrote. Call the publisher and ask for the name of a submissions editor. Ask the publisher for submission guidelines.

Organize your thoughts. Make notes about your book's unique subject, writing style, theme, plot, or message.

Begin your letter with a paragraph or two about your book's highlights. Use a standard business letter format.

In the next paragraph, describe your experience as a writer and/or your expertise on your book's subject.

Explain who would want to read your book and why, in the following paragraph. Mention published books on a similar subject, and explain why your book is different or better.

Mention, in closing, all the items you have attached with your book proposal letter, including a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) for the editor's convenience.

Close your letter with a cheerful, "I hope to hear from you soon."

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  • Be concise. Write a one- or two-page letter only. Use the active tense and make your language lively, straightforward and interesting.
  • Print your book proposal on plain, white printer paper. This isn't the time for eye-catching stationery.
  • Research the publisher before you send your book proposal. If your book is non-fiction, you may be required to include two or three sample chapters or the entire manuscript with your letter. The publisher may ask for other items, too, like a detailed outline or a résumé.
  • Some fiction publishers don't accept unsolicited manuscripts or even sample chapters with a book proposal letter - check first. As a general rule, describe your fiction book's basic plot in your proposal letter. Typically, the fiction editor will review your letter and only request to see your book or sample chapters if he is interested.
  • Proofread your proposal for errors. Editors like perfection.
  • Be sure to include a SASE ("self-addressed stamped envelope") with your proposal package. Make sure you have covered the return postage for your entire mailing.


  • Never ask about money or discuss fees in a proposal.
  • All publishers have different guidelines and instructions for writers. Always do your homework on the publisher before you send a book proposal.

Things Needed

  • Postage Stamps
  • SASE Envelopes
  • Office Supplies
  • Padded Envelopes

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