You may be thinking “Why do I need a book proposal? I don’t plan to submit it to a publishing company. I’m publishing it independently.”

Book proposals serve a valuable purpose for authors, agents, and acquisitions editors at publishing houses. These documents include

  • a detailed summary of the book’s essence,
  • a chapter outline and usually one to three sample chapters,
  • description of his or her platform, i.e. authority, reputation, social media presence and other elements, and
  • his or her marketing plan.

Authors often submit a book proposal to agents or editors prior to writing or completion of the book. I’ve written book proposals for my ghostwriting clients. The nature of these very detailed documents force you to think through your project.

Most of the elements of a traditional book proposal can serve a different and equally important purpose for you as a future self-publishing author.

The Purpose of a Synopsis in a Book Proposal

A synopsis can help you plan what to put in your book. It gives you the opportunity to look at the big picture of what you intend to write.

Once you have your general concept in mind, you can make sure that someone else hasn’t already written a book that too closely mirrors what you intend.

Search on Amazon. If, for example, you want to write a book that demonstrates the value of women having prominence in the corporate world, you might search for “women leaders management.” (By the way, this subject seems to be wide open for development.)

I recommend that you further research any titles you find, and if they look genuinely interesting, you can read samples and decide if they’re worth buying. In the course of your research, you may find your book idea has a unique slant on the subject. Learning that someone has said what you want to say may spur you to find a different original focus.

A Book Must Have a Structure

If you are thinking about writing a book, you may feel overwhelmed by the swirl of ideas in your mind. You can think of dozens of subjects that could go into your manuscript, but how do they all fit together? How do you narrow down your subject matter so that the reader isn’t as overwhelmed as you are at this moment?

Writing a book proposal will help you to not only define but to organize your book. Its basic structure provides a format into which you can put your ideas into separate categories that will turn into chapters.

Briefly summarize what you want to include in each chapter, and put it aside. Come back a day or two later and read it carefully. How do the chapter topics flow? Would a different order make your points more fluidly?

At this stage of planning your book, you have the greatest flexibility. You can order and reorder, experimenting until you have a structure that will guide the reader to an understanding of what you want to say. Don’t stop until you’re satisfied that one chapter builds on the previous one in an organic way and that the conclusion ties it all together.

You Will Write Your Book Much More Easily

Writing a nonfiction book without a synopsis and chapter outline is  like traveling in a foreign country without a map. You may find your way to your destination. You may also get very lost.

At worst, you will decide to abandon the journey.

The combined guidance of a synopsis and chapter outline will save you from the question: “What do I write next?” You know what your next subject will be, and that writing goes much more smoothly.

By doing the advance work, you greatly increase your chances of realizing your dream of having a published book.

Here’s more detailed information on why you should write a book proposal for yourself and what to include.

You can find much information about how to write a book proposal on the Internet. Here are two starter sites. Both of them are written with an agent or editor in mind, but the basics of the actual writing apply to writing a book proposal for any purpose.

pat iyerPat Iyer has written or edited 60 plus books, many of which were self-published. She began her writing career by submitting her first book proposal for the book shown above, and then found publishers came to her asking for books instead of the other way around.