By Cathy Glass
Regardless of whether your book is complete, partially complete, or a project for a rainy day you will need a proposal if you are going to submit your book with the hope of being published. Agents (and publishers) receive hundreds of unsolicited manuscripts every week and simply haven’t the time (nor stamina) to read every word of every masterpiece. They will read a proposal though; books are sold on proposals so they are very important.
Agents (and publishers) vary slightly in what they ask for in a proposal so check on their websites and follow their recommendations. They didn’t write the guidelines for the good of their health or to trick you, but to give you a fighting chance of having your masterpiece published. While guidelines vary there are some general rules that can be applied: the proposal should be word-processed (using a popular word-processing system so the doc can be easily opened), double-spaced, and if you are sending it by post: use one side of the paper and don’t bind it so it can be photocopied easily. Check if the agent or publisher prefers the proposal to be emailed or sent by post.
Nothing is better than an example so I am attaching the template for the proposal I use, filled in with some of my submissions. If you haven’t read the book it refers to I suggest you do so then you can compare the proposal with the finished product.
Good luck and let me know if I can be of help.