Taking the leap

Think about writing a book as a consulting project. You'll need to propose a salable and valuable idea, create a plan for completing the work and, once the project is done, sell your results. Unless you're self-publishing, your first sale will be to a literary agent or a publisher. Agents and publishers are only interested in books that will sell, so stress your book's sales potential in your proposal.

A book proposal sets forth a business plan for your book. You have to convince yourself and an agent that your book—the business in this venture—has profit-making potential. Build your case around the size of your market, the need for this particular subject, and the competitive situation your book will face once it hits the shelves. Review similar and complementary books. Their existence will prove to publishers that there are potential buyers for your book.

Examine both what's being published and what's selling in your book's category. Browse online and in traditional bookstores and identify the specific book category your book would fall under. Booksellers have to know where to put your book, so be sure you define its subject category. Then, determine whether that category is saturated or underserved. Tap into your client experience to test your ideas. Solicit clients' input and perspectives.

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