Killer Book Proposals

By FRANCES SHARPE | Writer. Editor. Ghostwriter.

Sample title page for a hypothetical book proposal on Killer Book Proposals

Do you know the secret to landing a nonfiction book deal with a traditional publisher? It’s not an outstanding concept. It’s not the superb writing. Sure, those things are important, but the most critical element that will help you secure a deal is a killer book proposal.

As a New York Times bestselling ghostwriter and collaborator, I have written numerous nonfiction book proposals that have resulted in six-figure deals with major publishers.

I usually tell my clients to think of a book proposal as a business plan. It’s a document that spells out what makes your book concept marketable and is used to convince a publisher to invest in your idea. For nonfiction books, it’s almost always better to craft a book proposal before you write your manuscript.

Nonfiction book proposals typically range from 50 to 75 pages (double-spaced) and include the following sections:


  • Title Page: A single page with your book title, subtitle, contact info, date of submission, and a photo (optional). [See sample.]
  • Overview: An engaging introduction to your overall concept, what makes it unique, why it is relevant now, what benefits readers will get out of it, and why you are the best person to write this book.
  • Format: A succinct breakdown of the format (diet, brain health, business, cookbook, etc.), any special features, and proposed word count.
  • About the Author/Platform: Your author bio, which needs to show why you are uniquely qualified to write this book, as well as a detailed look at your platform (media appearances, speaking engagements, social media reach, e-newsletter, and more). 
  • Publicity & Marketing: A summary of proposed promotional efforts and marketing opportunities for your book, as well as any endorsements you have secured.
  • Market Analysis/Competitive Titles: A snapshot of the target audience for your book in addition to a comparison with 3-5 similar books focusing on what makes your book unique.
  • Chapter Summaries: A brief summary of each chapter and what benefits readers can “take away” from each one.
  • Sample Chapter or Chapters: One or more completed sample chapters.

If you’re interested in collaborating on a nonfiction book proposal, contact me at

Frances Sharpe is a longtime writer, editor, and ghostwriter who has collaborated on more than 20 books, including two New York Times bestsellers. She has crafted book proposals that landed six-figure deals, ghostwritten books for major publishers, and collaborated with authors who made a name for themselves through self-publishing.