Reality Check on a Book Proposal

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imagesSometimes things happen for the best. Such was the case a few days ago, when a woman emailed me to say she had worked with two book coaches but was only 60 percent satisfied with her book proposal and wanted another coach. She had found me through a Google search.

I was skeptical. Why on earth should she need a third coach? Was this a bad sign? Plus, I don’t usually find clients this way. Intrigued, I  asked to see  the proposal.

I saw what was wrong immediately: 1. Part of any good book proposal is stating the business case. These two coaches had let her write a whole proposal without contemplating the book’s chances for commercial success. 2. Her idea was too broad and needed more focus to differentiate it. 3. She named only best-sellers as her competition, so why would anyone choose a book from an unknown? 4. She had not created a platform (her ability to identify and develop readers who would spend the money for her book) to attract agents and editors.

Worst of all, she had spent so much time and money, only to get to this state. What bothered me most was the realization that, even though she had hired professional book coaches, she would still be part of the 97 percent rejection rate. Momentarily, I considered the possibility that coaches don’t matter. Dismissed that. Then I felt more charitable towards the coaches. Was it partly because she wouldn’t hear their message?

I said I would only work with her if she would be willing to focus her book more sharply and do serious back-up work to create a platform. I said it that way because I just can’t take on a client whose book idea won’t succeed.

She replied that she would choose someone else. It was a relief. She was not ready to do the work required to be part of the 3 percent who succeed.


  1. says

    Sounds like she was more than half the problem-good for you for not taking it on (or, rather-giving her a boundary that she just had to refuse). Thanks for that earlier post and link to writing a proposal and celebrity chef cookbooks.

  2. says

    I know so many people who want results, are willing to work hard or spend the money, but aren’t willing to make the changes required. They’ll put hours into what they want to do, not what is needed to succeed.

    Sometimes I find myself doing this – ignoring good advice because it makes me uncomfortable. And I always end up kicking myself!