write a 60-page book proposal,” cautions Horn.
“Literary agents receive about a hundred book proposals a week! Agents and editors will put yours
aside until they have time to look at it.”
Every word in your pitch must earn its keep,
says Horn. If there is a table of contents, it must
tell and sell with compelling chapter titles. If it’s
clever, it just may cinch the book deal.
To increase the chances of your book idea being
accepted, Horn recommends a two-page pitch that
addresses the A-T-M triangle:
A (author platform). National visibility can turn
even a pet into an author. Take, for example, Paris
Hilton’s dog, Tinkerbell, who sealed a six-figure
t (title and topic). The title must raise eyebrows
and be clever; for example:
>Be a Shortcut: The Secret Fast Track to Business
Success, by Scott Halford, CSP
>I Used to Miss Him… But My Aim’s Improving:
Not Your Ordinary Break-up Guide, and Better Off
Wed? Fling to Ring: How to Know Which Finger to
Give Him, by Alison James
> This Is Not the Life I Ordered: 50 Ways to
Keep Your Head Above Water When Life Keeps
Dragging You Down, by Deborah Collins Stephens,
Michealene Cristini Risley, Jackie Speier and Jan
Horn strongly advises that you get the domain
name for your book title. “For $8.95 on GoDaddy,
you can create a business empire,” Horn says.
M (marketing). Horn disagrees with Woody
Allen, who said that 80 percent of success in life
is just “showing up.” It’s showing up first. Why
are you the first to introduce a book on this topic?
Why are all of the other books outdated? In your
two-page pitch, show how you’re going to “zig”
instead of “zag.” Why will this book break out
instead of blend in?
The publisher wants to know how you plan to
market your book, but don’t make promises you
can’t keep. “You must be pragmatic and deliverable,” Horn says. “Who will endorse your book?
List your speaking appearances. Have you ever
appeared on TV? Will you market via the Web
and a search engine-optimized Web site?”
According to Horn, you can succinctly summarize your marketing strategy by stating: “The
author will partner with the publisher and take
entrepreneurial responsibility for promoting the
book in the years following publication.”
ORVEL RAY WILSON, CSP
BOOKS: Guerrilla Marketing series
GOLDEN NUGGETS: concentrate on the marketing section, and format your proposal correctly.
When author, trainer and keynoter Orvel Ray
Wilson collaborated on his first book with Jay
Conrad Levinson in 1989, the “Guerrilla” name
was already in place. Their book, titled Guerrilla
Selling, “took off like a rocket sled,” according to
Wilson. Since then, the legendary Guerrilla book
series has launched the following titles: Guerrilla
Selling, Guerrilla Marketing, and Guerrilla
Negotiating. There are 50 titles in 41 languages,
and 20 million books in print.
Wilson’s agent, Michael Larsen, takes Sam
Horn’s brevity a step further. Larsen advocates a
one-page proposal that grabs the publisher’s attention by answering two key questions: Why this
book? Why you (as the author)?
Do you have a hook that will get you on Oprah?
According to Wilson, 90 percent of the book proposal is the marketing plan, because publishers
are in the business of selling books. Publishers like
speakers, because they get in front of audiences and
can sell books.
In the book proposal’s marketing section,
Wilson also suggests using a bulleted list of active
verbs that convey your enthusiasm and ability to
push sales, such as:
>Match publisher’s promotional budget
>Hire a publicist