How to Write a Book Treatment

A book treatment, also called a book proposal, is an essential tool for anyone who wants to market a book in today's publishing industry. A writer uses the treatment to interest a literary agent in the project, and the agent uses the treatment to sell the idea to a publisher to get an advance and publishing agreement for the writer. A clean, well-written, and well-edited book treatment is your key to a writing career. Some literary agents and publishers have their own requirements for a treatment.

Outline the book and choose two chapters to write. It is best not to use the first two chapters as samples but to write a sample from the first and last parts of the book. The sample chapters demonstrate your writing ability. They also show that you know how much material it takes to fill a chapter and that you will be able to produce a book of the length you have promised.

Summarize your book in one sentence. This one sentence needs to catch and convey the essence of your book. Imagine that you are a representative from a publisher selling books to a bookstore. You have only a few seconds per book to convince the store to stock a particular book. What would you say to get the store purchaser interested? If it's good, this sentence will entice agents and publishers--and keep them reading further.

Write a short bio for yourself, illustrating the background that qualifies you to write the book. Include your writing credits.

Write a short marketing section that tells agents and publishers who would be interested in buying this book and what they would get out if it if they did read it. For example, people who watch Oprah on television might read a self-help book. Include a short section on the competition--other books that have been recently published on your topic--as well as a section on what you plan to do to promote your book. You might schedule book signings, do workshops where your book is sold, or create a website.

Create chapter summaries for the entire book, using around 100 words or less for each chapter. This will give prospective agents and publishers a clear idea of what the book will contain. The sample chapters will show how you intend to develop the idea you have summarized for each chapter.

Edit the treatment so that it's no longer than 10 pages. Add the sample chapters.

Before you send out your treatment, make sure you have edited and proofread it carefully. The days when publishers paid for all editing services are long past; publishers want writers who will be turning in very clean material that has been thoroughly edited and proofread. If you do not feel confident of doing that yourself, hire someone to do it for you.

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