The Nonfiction Book Proposal That Won Me a Publishing Contract


Are you writing a Christian nonfiction book? Then you need to write a book proposal that appeals to literary agents, acquisitions editors, publishing boards, and the marketing staff at publishing houses. And – if you want to get your Christian book published – then you need to read sample book proposals until you learn how to write yours right.

Here, you’ll find a description of the Introduction and Overview sections of my nonfiction Christian book proposal. I wrote it less than four months ago, and I’m now signing a book contract from a Christian publishing house! It happened fast — three months ago, I emailed this book proposal to approximately 15 Christian literary agents and I received four offers of representation within a week.

The truth is that getting a literary agent and signing a book contract doesn’t usually happen that fast. And, it’s not just a strong book proposal that increases your chances of getting a publishing contract (and a literary agent). A variety of factors need to line up for a writer to get a “yes” from agents, acquisition editors, and publishing houses…but one of the absolute necessities is a good book proposal.





In Example of a Query Letter to Literary Agents for a Nonfiction Book, I shared the query letter I sent to literary agents. It was easier to write than the book proposal for my Christian book – especially since most of the query was culled from my Introduction and Overview.

The working title of my book is called Blossom: Finding Hope and Healing for Your Heart After Loss. The title will change – and that’s good. It’ll get better! And, my book will contain completely different material than the content I’ve published on my blogs and in my She Blossoms newsletter. I won’t be blogging the material in the print book; it’s different content.

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Sample Book Proposal – Christian Nonfiction

In this blog post, you’ll find a description of the Overview and Introduction sections of my Christian nonfiction book proposal, for Blossom: Finding Hope and Healing for Your Heart After Loss. It’s not the actual book proposal. That’s Top Secret information until the book actually gets published.

In future blog posts, I’ll share descriptions of the Market, Competing Titles, Author Bio, Marketing and Promotion, Book Table of Contents and Chapter Summaries. 

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Book Proposal

Table of Contents

I.  Proposal Introduction and Overview … 3

II. The Market … 6

III.   Competing Titles … 8

IV.   Author Bio … 9

V.   Marketing and Promotion … 10

VI.   Book Table of Contents … 12

VII.   Chapter Summaries … 12

VIII.   Book Introduction … 18

IX.   Sample Chapter … 21

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Introduction and Overview

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I. Introduction 

In the introductory section of my book proposal, I focused on describing why my nonfiction Christian book will meet the needs of my readers and help women heal after loss. I briefly described the pain of losing a loved one and the difficulty of letting go. I also shared what I know about my readers and made it clear to the agent and editor that I know who my audience is.

I used the Introduction to fully describe not only what my book is about, but who will buy it and why. I described my personal and professional experience with overcoming loss and Blossoming into who I was created to be in the first few paragraphs of my Christian nonfiction book proposal.

how to write a nonfiction Christian book proposalIt took a long time for me to write a one-sentence description of my book! I used that summary sentence here in the introduction and in the query letters I sent to literary agents.

One of the most important things I learned about writing a Christian book proposal – and working with faith-based agents, editors, and publishers – is that business is business. Loving God doesn’t exempt Christians from having to learn the business of writing, publishing, marketing, and seeing books! Going to several Christian writing conferences was also an extremely helpful way to learn about getting my book published.

I didn’t explain what “writing style” I’d be using in my proposal. Why? Because my voice and style is obvious from the first sentence! But, I did describe the types of charts, anecdotes, sidebars and other special features I want to include in my Christian book. That, after all, is what the book proposal is supposed to do.

The special features of my book warranted a longer Introduction to my proposal. Your Christian book may require a long or short Introduction, depending on the content. Remember that your proposal should reflect your personality, beliefs, values, and ideas – even when it’s nonfiction! In 17 Reasons Manuscripts Are Rejected by Editors and Agents, I discuss how important it is for writers to be unique, creative, and original!

Overview

Before I described the benefits and features, I listed the word count (45,000) and audience (Christian women over 40). I also expanded my original one-sentence description into two longer sentences, so the agents and editors could get a good feel for what my book is about. I was writing this section as if it would be the “back of the book” blurb when it’s actually published.

 

Reader Benefits:



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    • Companionship and support. I describe why I believe my “She Blossoms” readers will love this book. I describe the benefits of companionship and support in several sentences, to ensure that the literary agent, acquisitions editor, and marketing team get a good look into the minds and hearts of my readers.
    • A life-giving focus on Blossoming. In this benefit, I share what sets my nonfiction book apart from other Christian books for women. The proposal – and this “reader benefits” section in particular – is the perfect place to describe exactly how great my book is! I also give specific reasons why my book will add to the nonfiction books for Christians that already exist.
    • Insights and practical life lessons. I’ve always loved sharing “quips and tips”, so this part of my nonfiction book proposal was a breeze! Christian women need practical tips – especially ones that are Biblically based. Not only does this open up Scripture in a fresh way for my readers, it also reveals how God works through painful experiences.
    • Five “Blossom Tips”  in each chapter, representing different aspects of self: emotional, intellectual, physical, creative, and spiritual. I share examples of these Blossom Tips on my main Adventurous Writer and in my She Blossoms newsletter. But, the content of the book won’t be the same as my blog or newsletter.

Features:

    • Real-life anecdotes and comments from my “She Blossoms” blogs, to show readers they’re not alone and to normalize their conflicting, confusing, complicated feelings.
    • Group discussion questions and journaling prompts to help readers interact with each other, dig deeply into the material, and learn more about themselves and others. The journaling prompts enhance private reflection, growth, and healing if the individual reads the book without a group.
    • Solid Biblical foundations. The information about the women of the Bible is based on well-researched Scriptural explanations and interpretations from solid sources.

Delivery Date: Six (6) months after contract signing.

All nonfiction book proposals – Christian or not – should contain alternative titles. This helps get your book published by showing agents, acquisitions editors and publishers that you’re flexible, creative, and willing to work with them to reach your readers. I won’t share my alternative titles here. Can you guess why? Tell me in the comments section below!

Future “She Blossoms” Book Ideas

While not a “should”, it’d be good if your nonfiction book proposal included ideas for future books! This shows literary agents, acquisitions editors, marketing committees and publishers that you’re not a “one-hit wonder” 🙂

Again, I won’t share my ideas for future Christian books here. Some things are better left unsaid, don’t you think? Left to the imagination, as it were.

Daily Devotionals

Each “She Blossoms” nonfiction book could include a devotional, to encourage and inspire readers. Each day would include a beautiful photo of a flower, Bible verse, and short encouragement. The length of the book is open to discussion.

    • Daily Blossoms: 365 Days to Blossoming in a New Season of Life 
    • 365 Days to Blossom into the Woman God Created You to Be

Honestly, I’m not sure a daily devotional is a strong selling point for my nonfiction book proposal. There are so many devotionals on the Christian market, and who has time to read more than one a day? Most of us don’t even take time to read one a day! And, there are hundreds of free online email and app devotionals. I hesitated to even include this idea in my book proposal, but I decided to let my literary agent be the judge. She left it in, so perhaps it has merit.

(end of the Introduction and Overview sections of this Christian nonfiction book proposal).

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And that, fellow scribes, is the Overview and Introduction sections of my Christian nonfiction book proposal. Soon, I’ll post – and link to – the book proposal’s other sections: the Market, Competing Titles, Author Bio, Marketing and Promotion, Book Table of Contents, Chapter Summaries, and possibly the Book Introduction.

Help Writing a Nonfiction Christian Book Proposal

how to write a Christian nonfiction book proposalI read The Writer’s Workout: 366 Tips, Tasks, & Techniques From Your Writing Career Coach by Christina Katz every day. 

It contains a perfect mix of encouragement, inspiration, writing advice, marketing tips, book promotion, and support for writers in all stages of book publication.

The Writer’s Workout is exactly what I need to keep me motivated to write my book, now that I have a deadline from a publisher. I actually didn’t start reading this book until after I got the contract from the Christian book publisher.

This is the book I was glued to while I was writing my book proposal:

christian nonfiction book proposalAnd 77 Reasons Why Your Book Was Rejected (and how to be sure it doesn’t happen again) by Mike Nappa is a must-read if you’re serious about getting published.

Mike discusses the most common reasons why thousands of book proposals (Christian and mainstream) are rejected every year, and teaches writers how to make their book proposals stand out. He’s worked as an author, editor, and literary agent for more than 20 years, and knows the most frequent mistakes authors make in their proposals.

Are you writing a Christian nonfiction book? How’s the process going for you – do you feel overwhelmed and buried in work, or confident that you’ll find the right literary agent and publishing house?

May your writing easy, but still challenging and exciting! May your book proposal represent your Christian nonfiction book creatively and effectively, and may you be encouraged and motivated by our Father in Heaven.

xo



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