I inquired about their writing journeys, book promotion challenges and the need for an agent and a publisher. They were incredibility generous to share their successes, their mistakes, even their writing tips.
They unanimously recommended that I go with a publisher if I could get a publishing house to pick up my book. Their reasons were valid: rather than be overwhelmed with the tedious logistics of publishing a book (obtaining an ISBN number, selecting a print shop, working with designers and more), it’s easier for a first-time author to solely focus on writing and editing and let the publisher take care the rest. Then, my next task: Write a great book proposal to win a publishing deal. My author friends were kind enough to share their templates and I also checked out book proposal templates online. After reviewing several book proposals, I discovered writing a book proposal is not very different than writing a marketing plan or a business plan.
I needed to answer why, what, who, when, how, where, how much.
The questions to answer for a book proposal were really not much different than the questions to answer for a marketing plan.
|Six W’s||Book Proposal||Marketing Plan||Business Term|
|Why||Why will the book sell?||Why will the product/service sell?||Vision|
|What||What is the book about?||What is product/service about?||Objective|
|Who||Who will buy the book?||Who will buy?||Target Audience|
|When||When will the book launch?||When will the product or service be launched?||Launch Date|
|Where||Where will the book be sold and promoted?||Where will the product/service be sold and promoted?||Distribution Channels|
|How||How will you sell and promote the book?||How will you sell and promote the product/service?||Promotional/Go-to-Market Plan|
|How much/ How many||How much is the budget for book promotion? How should the book be priced? How many books are projected to sell?||How much is the budget for marketing promotion? How much should the product/service be? What is the projected demand?||Pricing Analysis and Product Forecast|
|Others||What other current books are similar to your book? How are these books doing? How is your book different than theirs?||Who are the competitive products/services? How are they doing? How is the product/service different than theirs?||Competitive Analysis|
Even though the same questions need to be addressed, writing a book proposal is not the same as writing a marketing plan.
The trick is to know which questions to focus on and put more effort and detail into.
To understand which questions need more weight, I gave a lot of thought to what readers of my plans or proposals would want to know. For a marketing plan addressed to regional marketing managers, I focus on the launch timeline, product messaging differentiation, budget allocation, and country priorities. They want to know how we differentiate our products, when the launches will be and how much budget is required and what countries are priorities. Then, they can create their go-to-market and promotion plans accordingly. For a marketing plan addressed to senior management, I focus on questions that senior managers care about most, such as competitive analysis and a promotional plan to help meet sales goals.
For my book proposal, I addressed all the questions above, but I put much more weight on:
- Why a global content marketing book is needed in the market?
- What is the proposed outline for the book?
- Who will benefit from the book?
- Why do I have the credibility to write this book?
- What is my promotional plan?
Because content marketing is a hot topic, writing another content marketing book is really nothing special. What differentiates this book from the other content marketing books is that it shares a framework to effectively promote content across-regions; it’s a Global Content Marketing book. I positioned this book as a way to address a gap in the current content marketing field. Since I am a first-time author and not well known, I need to convince publishers that I have the credibility to write such a book. My work experience really does not matter so much in beefing up the author profile, but my website, regular content marketing blogging, frequent speaking invitations and social media profiles provided evidence of thought leadership.
Once I identified a list of key questions I should address, the next step was to write and rewrite the proposal.
And then rewrite it again. Really, the essence of writing is rewriting. It took me two months, mostly working on evenings and weekends, to complete the book proposal. I liken the act of writing a book proposal to that of creating a well-done piece of content: make it easy for publishers to understand why this book is essential and why I am the right person to write it. The elements of a book proposal and a marketing plan are very similar, the key difference is to understand what your readers’ need and zero in on the key elements that they care about.
Happy Ending: I signed a publishing contract with McGraw-Hill Education five months after submitting my book proposal! The book will be released ten months after the contract was signed.