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Common mistakes in book proposals

Posted by Maria Murnane | June 19, 2012

Last week I explained what a book proposal is and what it should include. This week I asked my friend Diane O’Connell, a former editor at Random House who now has a consulting business to help aspiring authors get published, for the biggest and most common mistakes she sees in book proposals.

Here’s what she had to say.

“The biggest mistakes I see are most often are in the handling of the competition and comparative titles. Avoid these five mistakes that could derail an otherwise promising book proposal:

1. Claiming there is no competition for your book. What? No other book out of the millions published has dealt with the same subject matter? If that’s really true, then all that tells a publisher is there is no market for your book. No market = no book contract.

2. Trashing the competition. Publishers want to know how your book differs and/or ads to the other titles it will compete with — not why those other books are so “bad.” Plus, what if your proposal lands in the hands of a publisher of one of the books you’ve trashed?

3. Including self-published titles (unless they’ve become bestsellers). Publishers want to know how your book will fare against others on the bookshelves, and most self-published books don’t make it into bookstores.

4. Cutting and pasting the Amazon book descriptions. Editors and agents will see through this lazy tactic in a nanosecond.

5. Including too many titles. Just stick with the five most well-known or bestselling titles.”

There you have it, words of wisdom from a true expert! To download Diane’s free report titled 50 Ways to Avoid the Rejection Pile, visit her website: www.writetosellyourbook.com

Maria

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