These 10 chapter summaries of my nonfiction book proposal will show you how to summarize your own chapters. I also included a summary of my book’s introduction. Reading through a author’s sample chapter summaries won’t guarantee your nonfiction book proposal will be published, but it will take you a step closer.
The title of my nonfiction book is Your Heart Changes Everything — and that’s your first tip on how to write a good book proposal! Craft a title that resonates with readers in your audience. If it resonates with readers, it’ll resonate with literary agents, book publishers, and editors.
This blog post doesn’t contain the entire book proposal. It’s just the ten chapter summaries, so you can see how to summarize an unwritten nonfiction book’s content. In a previous post — Book Proposal: Your Heart Changes Everything — I shared the Introduction, Overview, Market, and Competing Titles of my proposed book (the full title is Your Heart Changes Everything: 50 Ways to Experience Jesus in Daily Life).
“As a book author, it’s your responsibility to cast a vision for your book about the length and appearance before you pitch the idea to a publisher,” writes Terry Whalin in Book Proposals That Sell: 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success. “No book or magazine article is for ‘everyone’ so know your audience, then target them with your writing.”
If you’re an aspiring author, you need to know how to write a book proposal – and you can never read (or study) too many examples of book proposals, chapter summaries, market descriptions, and competing titles! Try to find successful book proposals, such as The Nonfiction Book Proposal That Won Me a Publishing Contract. But don’t neglect the unsuccessful ones. They may teach you more than the successful ones did.
Before I share the sample chapter summaries, here’s my book proposal’s Table of Contents.
Your Heart Changes Everything
Book Proposal Table of Contents
I. Proposal Introduction and Overview … 3
II. The Market … 8
III. Competing Titles … 9
IV. Author Bio … 10
V. Book Table of Contents … 11
VI. Chapter Summaries … 11
VII. Book Introduction … 16
VIII. Sample Chapter One: David … 20
Besides reading sample chapters of a published author’s book proposal, write blog posts and articles for your intended audience. This is a great way to test the waters and see if your book might resonate with readers.
Here’s an example of a blog post that I adapted from this book proposal: Your Heart Changes Everything – 21 Heart Quotes.
Sample Chapter Summaries: Your Heart Changes Everything
Introduction: How the Heart Beats
I introduce myself briefly and share my motivation for writing this book. I allude to the secrets revealed in Chapter One and explain the Biblical and biological meaning of the word “heart.” I describe why heartfelt change is crucial to a deep, fulfilling relationship with God, introduce the different types of change, and share how the practical Heart Beats portion of each chapter help readers transform their faith.
Chapter 1: Expressing an Authentic Heart – David
In this first sample chapter I share how seeds of corruption grew in my heart and turned me into a thief. I describe how and why my heart changed, including how I developed a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. I describe how readers can create conditions for heartfelt change and emphasize that they can’t actually cause or force change.
King David, as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), is featured in this chapter. His faith was deep and active even though he made mistakes, sinned, and caused great pain to himself and others. I weave David’s story with mine and describe the power of honesty and authenticity.
The five Heart Beats (spirit, heart, soul, body, and mind) woven through this sample chapter help readers see the importance of honesty, self-awareness, and vulnerability..
Chapter 2: Healing a Broken Heart – Hannah/The Bleeding Woman
Before a heart can change, it must start getting healthy—or at least be aware of its own brokenness. In this sample chapter a She Blossoms reader describes how God healed her heart after she experienced several tragedies. Her story illustrates why head knowledge isn’t enough.
Woven through this book proposal’s sample chapter are two stories of women who cried out to God in their brokenness and sickness: Hannah in the Old Testament and the bleeding woman who touched Jesus’ robe in the New Testament. Hannah illustrates how we can be joyful despite our circumstances; the bleeding woman illustrates the faith, boldness, and courage we need to reach out to Jesus.
These Heart Beats encourage readers to work through disappointment, pain, and grief in a variety of spiritual, emotional, creative, physical, and intellectual ways. Readers will participate in their own healing and learn how to take a “big picture” perspective of their lives by accepting God for who He is.
Chapter 3: Reuniting a Divided Heart – Joseph/The Sinful Woman
I share my experience of adopting a dog with my husband (after accepting infertility and a childless life). We realized we couldn’t handle her and returned her to the humane society after three weeks. It was a shocking and painful experience; it took me a long time to forgive myself. I wrote about it on my She Blossoms blog six years ago, and still get grateful comments from readers who feel guilty and sad about rehoming their own dogs.
In this chapter I also briefly mention the process of forgiving my parents. My mother is schizophrenic, my father left when I was nine months old to return to his home in Jerusalem, and I lived in three foster homes growing up.
Joseph’s story of forgiving his brothers is woven through this chapter. His family was reunited; mine will never be. Even so, my heart is whole. My readers can experience the same unity of heart and peace of mind, even if their families are divided or they’re struggling with self-forgiveness. The sinful woman’s story of anointing Jesus’ feet with perfume (Luke 7:36-39) is also included in this chapter, illustrating the power and gratitude of forgiveness.
This sample chapter’s five Heart Beats take readers beyond the “head knowledge” of forgiveness to the transformative power of receiving God’s love and grace. The suggested activities also encourage readers to explore the resources that are available in their communities, families, and workplaces.
Chapter 4: Humbling a Hard Heart – Jonah/Elijah
He wasn’t swallowed by a whale or hiding in the wilderness, but my pastor friend Steve ran from God for years before his heart was humbled. He knew God was pursuing him even while he was in active ministry, but he refused to listen or obey. Steve doesn’t just share how God melted his heart and how his life and ministry changed, he describes how deeply he regrets running from God for so long.
Jonah and Elijah’s stories of running from God—while having active relationships and conversations with Him!—are blended through this sample chapter.
These Heart Beats will highlight the importance of heeding God’s still small voice. How do we hear it, and how should we respond? How do we know if it’s really Jesus calling? The combination of spiritual, emotional, creative, physical and intellectual activities will help readers hear and respond to the Holy Spirit’s invitations.
Are you preparing to send a nonfiction book proposal to a literary agent or publisher? Read 6 Tips for Submitting Your Sample Chapters to a Book Publisher.
Chapter 5: Wrestling With a Proud Heart – Jacob/Nicodemus
My insecurity and pride doesn’t just block healthy relationships with others, it prevents a deeper connection with God. It stops me from experiencing more of the heartfelt change Jesus wants to pour into my life. The struggles we face in our human relationships are often mirrored in our relationship with Jesus. In other words, the problems we face with family and friends may be similar to the ones we experience in our connection with God. My story reveals the importance of wrestling with self, others, and God to experience a true and permanent change of heart.
Both Jacob and Nicodemus wrestled with God, but in different ways. Jacob experienced a physical tussle with an angel of the Lord; Nicodemus initiated an intellectual debate with Jesus. Today we may not physically tussle with God but He always wants us to bring our questions, fears, doubts and struggles to Him.
The five Heart Beats in this book proposal’s sample chapter will help readers see and work through the obstacles holding them back from God. They’ll learn how to recognize and prevent pride from blocking their relationship with Jesus.
Chapter 6: Firing Up a Lukewarm Heart – Rahab/Samaritan Woman
In this chapter, readers learn what Jesus means by a “lukewarm heart” and see how to recognize signs of indifference in their lives. In Revelation 3:15-17 Jesus states the danger of having a lukewarm heart: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”
Rahab and the Samaritan woman were indifferent to God before they experienced Jesus. They were neither seeking nor opposed to Him. They could take Him or leave Him. God spoke to them in different ways, just like He does with us today. Their experience with God changed their lives, and it has the same power to change our hearts today.
The Heart Beats in this sample chapter revolve around increasing joy, faith, hope and courage. The only way to revive a lukewarm heart is to actively reach out to Jesus and take a step of faith. Readers learn practical ways to create conditions that can move head knowledge to their hearts and fire up their faith.
Chapter 7: Satisfying a Curious Heart – Naaman/The Ethiopian
I travel alone a lot, and I love it! I often stay in cheap hotels and use public transportation (buses, trains, Uber, ferries, etc.). I also hitchhiked through Europe alone—twice. The closer to the ground I am, the humbler and more vulnerable I feel. My expeditions force me to rely on the Holy Spirit and practice following His lead. I don’t seek dangerous situations; I trust God for guidance and companionship. I can literally feel the difference in my relationship with Jesus when I take a solo trip to a new place. He is teaching me to live to of curiosity and awe, not expectation or demand.
Both Naaman and the Ethiopian were traveling when they met the Lord. Both were curious about what He offered and who He was. Both were open to changing their minds and lives, to adjusting their opinions and accepting the reality of God. These men had head knowledge, were seeking heartfelt change, and wanted to go further in their spiritual journeys. Our Lord blessed them.
This book proposal’s sample chapter’s five Heart Beats will show readers how to approach life with a sense of curiosity instead of fear, skepticism, or anxiety. They’ll learn the importance of asking God for the desires of their hearts and cultivating the childlike curiosity that leads to joy, peace, and freedom.
Chapter 8: Empowering a Fearful Heart – Gideon/Peter
The She Blossoms reader stories in this sample chapter reveal the difference it makes when the “do not fear” penny drops from head to heart. Different types and levels of fears are addressed in this chapter, giving readers a variety of connection points.
Gideon, one of my favorite Biblical characters, shares more than his fleece test in this chapter. He made Jesus wait while he ran home to make bread and roast a goat! He questioned God and kept falling back on his fears and doubts. It took a long time for Gideon’s heart to accept what his head knew…but when he did, he conquered more than he ever dreamed of. Our Biblical brother Peter is another example of how fear plays out in life. His fear caused him to turn away and deny Jesus. God loved these men through it all, and He loves us through our own fears and doubts.
These five Heart Beats will focus on the most often-repeated command in the Bible: do not let fear control your thoughts, emotions, and actions. God does not want us to move scared through our lives. Fearless Christians are free, joyful and Spirit-led! They have fun.
Chapter 9: Asking for a Changed Heart – Moses/Canaanite Woman
The most impactful public change of heart I experienced is in my relationships with my She Blossoms readers. During my first eight years of blogging I felt hurt and rejected if someone unsubscribed from my newsletter or unliked me on Facebook. I was also overwhelmed by my readers’ comments. They rarely insulted or disagreed with me; rather, they’d share their sad stories and often say “please, please help me, I have nowhere to turn.” I didn’t feel called to give advice, yet I felt like I owed my readers something. For two years I asked God to change my heart and guide my responses, and He eventually did. Today I interact with my readers with a strong sense of Spirit-led freedom and compassion. I pray for them. I know what I can give, and I give what I can.
God loves changing His leaders’ hearts in different ways! Moses talked to God regularly, asking and negotiating for different things. This chapter reveals how Moses changed as a result of experiencing God. Readers will also learn how the Canaanite woman asked Jesus to heal her daughter. He didn’t answer at first, and even appeared to insult her. These stories show readers the importance of not just asking God for the desires of their hearts, but persisting and praying without ceasing.
The five Heart Beats in this book proposal’s sample chapter help readers understand the importance of having a relationship with God. Relationships involve presence, participation, and acceptance. Strong relationships require time, energy, and persistence. These activities will guide readers to a deeper level.
Chapter 10: Living From a Whole Heart – Deborah/Paul
The final chapter of YOUR HEART CHANGES EVERYTHING interweaves all the people and their stories. The book is packed with a wide variety of experiences and ideas; this chapter pulls them together so they’re easy for readers to grasp. Different types of transformation are recalled and reinforced. Readers will see and celebrate how hearts that were broken, divided, hard, proud, lukewarm, curious, and fearful become—are becoming—whole.
Deborah and Paul are the final two Biblical characters. They lived wholeheartedly. Their head knowledge was vast and their hearts were huge. They fought battles and ran races with boldness, courage, confidence, and faith. They are excellent examples of finding the balance between leading and following, speaking and listening, stepping out in faith and pausing to wait for God. Deborah and Paul’s love for and trust in God is evident in every action they took.
The final five Heart Beats will seal readers’ hearts, whether they’re warriors like Deborah or orators like Paul. They’ll recognize the signs of a changed heart and receive action-oriented strategies for sustaining their growth. They’ll learn what it means to plant God’s seed in their hearts and blossom into who He created them to be.
The end of the sample chapter summaries of this nonfiction book proposal.
Are you writing a nonfiction book proposal? At the beginning of these sample chapter summaries, I encouraged you to write blog posts and articles for your intended audience. This doesn’t just help you see what resonates with your readers, it can be valuable information to include in your book proposal. The publisher will appreciate knowing how your audience is responding to the content of your proposed book.
Here’s another example of a blog post that I adapted from this nonfiction book proposal: Your Heart Changes Everything – Blossom Tip 74.
Has your book proposal been rejected — or are you worried it might be? Read 17 Reasons Book Manuscripts Get Rejected by Publishers.
In peace and passion,
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