Where proposals commonly go wrong

There are two things that you want to convince a publisher:

  • that your book matters and people will want to read (and preferably buy) it
  • that you are the best person to write it.

Your idea should be original (but not too much so), your proposal should be easy-to-read and have a clear ‘hook’. It should set out a very clear sense of what you will cover and how – just because a book is nonfiction does not mean that it shouldn’t have a narrative thread.  You should also ensure that you list potential marketing avenues.


  • re-hash existing ideas or books
  • compare your book to existing best-sellers
  • forget to list any other publishing experience you’ve had
  • go over-the-top with a ‘clever’ writing style.