Most agents and publishers at some point during the submission process ask for a proposal. There are many books and articles out there that teach how to write a non-fiction proposal but very few about fiction proposals.
For the next few posts after Thanksgiving, I’ll cover different aspect of the fiction proposal. This post covers what should be in a proposal and how to format it. Different agents and editors require various things in their proposals. My recommendation is to write a full proposal. If you do this, you can delete certain parts not needed for your submissions, but you won’t have to rewrite a new proposal for each agent. Here’s what you should have in a full proposal.
Cover Page: The cover page should have your contact information and the title of your proposal. In the left hand header, have the contact info. Center the title in the middle of the page. Here’s an example.
Name Address City, State Zip Phone Number Email Website or Blog
A Proposal by Name
Word Count of Entire Manuscript
Sell Sheet: On the second page, you should start page numbers in the right hand corner. The second page is a sell sheet. I’ll talk about what a sell sheet is later. Here’s what’s included in the sell sheet.
- Promo Sentence Sales Handle
- Back Cover Promotion
- Word Length
- Series (if applicable)
- Purpose or Spiritual Premise
- History of the Manuscript
Synopsis: Next is the synopsis. Remember to have a three page and a one page synopsis available. For more about the synopsis, click here.
Biography Page: The biography page includes a biographical sketch and past publications.
Marketing Page: The marketing page includes market analysis, similar books, and what you, the author intend to do to market your book.
Sample Pages: Normally sample pages are asked to be included in a proposal. You can tack these onto the end of the proposal. Include another cover page telling the title, how many pages or chapters are included, and your name centered on the page. There’s no need to include contact info on this page because you have it at the beginning of your proposal.
After you write a full proposal, you can tweak it for each publisher or agent’s submission guidelines.