Welcome back to PART 2 in my series, How to Write a Successful Children’s Book Proposal. In my last post I talked about, the pitch, target age, book format and word count, and the most important section of all, Why this Book Now. In this post we are going to move on to listing the contents and the marketing opportunities for the book.

5. Content

What you put in this section depends on what type of books you are writing.

For non-fiction, it is expected for a 32-page book that the entire book will be written, but if you are proposing a longer book then you can submit a sample and then provide a description of the rest of the contents in the proposal. For fiction, publishers want the complete manuscript and a synopsis instead of a list of content/chapter headings.

The length of a non-fiction sample depends very much on what you are writing. It should give the publisher a good idea of your writing style and the amount of content across a few spreads. Personally, I write until I have a good feel for the book myself and if commissioned, I know the research is available to finish it and I am confident I can replicate the demonstrated style throughout the rest of the book. As an example, for a 64 page illustrated book, I submitted 8 spreads, two for the introduction, and six for the main content. In the main contents there were two spreads per subject area, so I demonstrated the text and layout for three subject/topic areas in the book.

I nearly always leave writing the backmatter to when the book is commissioned, however, publishers are increasingly moving backmatter onto feature spreads positioned at intervals throughout the book. So, check out the competition and do what’s relevant. Backmatter can have a different writing style to the rest of the book, so sometimes it’s a good idea to demonstrate it. Backmatter and feature spread ideas should be listed in the contents section on the proposal.

You don’t have to paginate the book in the contents section. A list of content will suffice, this could be spread by spread or section by section or chapter by chapter, depending on the book. Plus, any detail about how the book works. E.g., two double-page spreads per animal. One double-page spread for each planet. Four feature spreads with fold-out maps, etc.

6. Market appeal

What are the book’s commercial hooks?

These can be short bullet points and 3-5 are fine. Here are some examples:

On trend: examples how/why?

Humorous: how/why?

Immersive or Interactive: how/why?

Educational: how/why? (can you link it to the primary curriculum?)

International appeal: why?

7. Publicity and Distribution Opportunities

Can you think of other ways your book can be sold (that are realistic and sufficiently large-scale) other than the usual bookshops, supermarkets and Amazon?

Non-fiction and fiction can be sold in the gift shops of museums, zoos, historical places and other touristy hotspots.

Can you think of any great publicity links which could help sell your book?

Anniversaries – e.g., upcoming centenaries or national holidays.

International Days – there are many e.g., World Wildlife Day.

Seasonal Promotions – Christmas, Easter, Autumn, Summer holidays, Mother’s Day, etc.

Any connections to famous people, places or upcoming events that will be in the news?

Does your story’s subject matter suit school and library author visits? How?

If your book sells, your ideas here could well become the basis of your marketing plan!

In PART THREE this series we’ll look at:

8. Comps (competitors and market comparisons)

9. Alternative book title ideas (and why you need them)

10. Selling sequels/series

11. About the author blurb