In commercial real estate, writing a relevant book in your niche can help you gain credibility and visibility. Readers will likely see you as an expert in your field. The book can even be used as a business card, as you may leave it with audience members after speaking at a conference or gatherings.
Once you’ve chosen a topic that you’re passionate about (as discussed previously), the next steps include getting words on paper. Rather than sitting down to type out hundreds of pages, the process first centers on creating a concept. Specifically, if you put together a book proposal, you can send it to an agent or publisher. This document provides a summary of what topics will be covered, along with selling points to address how it could be a valuable resource on the market. For non-fiction books about real estate, publishers will typically review a proposal and then decide if they’d like to produce the book. When that happens, the drafting phase of the manuscript will begin.
While there is no exact template that needs to be followed to create a proposal, there are components that you’ll likely want to include. Use the following guidelines when creating a book proposal to sell to a publisher.
1. Include a Solid Overview
In most proposals, the first section is called the Overview. This is your chance to catch the attention of an agent or publisher and help them see the value your book can provide. For timely topics, you can make a note about ongoing trends and share how your book will fit in. In a few paragraphs, you can highlight the book’s main themes, along with how it will differentiate itself from other books on the market.
2. Provide Details about the Book’s Target Audience
When I was putting together a proposal for the WSJ bestseller, “The Insider’s Edge to Real Estate Investing,” I spent considerable time with my team discussing the audience. We created avatars to help specify who would be interested in reading the book. The audience included those who were new to real estate investing and were looking for a guidebook that would show them, step by step, how to get started. Another audience for the book consists of veteran investors who understand the basics and are looking to uplevel their game. By clearly defining your target audience, you can help publishers visualize which demographics will be picking up your book. During the writing process, it will allow you to direct the material to these avatars, who in turn will see your book as a tool that provides a solution for them.
3. Compare Your Work to Competitors
You’ll want to use a section of the book proposal to list similar books in your genre. You can outline the strengths of these, and also identify how your book will compare to them. Perhaps your subject will fill a gap in the market, or bring a fresh perspective to an evergreen topic.
4. Present a Table of Contents
A book proposal often includes an outline to demonstrate what the book will cover. For each chapter, you might include a brief summary that highlights the main points. This helps agents and publishers get a sense of the structure and flow of your book. It also provides a framework on which the manuscript can be built.
5. Include an Author Bio
Why are you the best person to write the book? Include several paragraphs that discuss your experience and track record. For my book, I shared with publishers some of my career highlights, and noted that while I’ve been involved as an investment sales broker for more than two decades, I’ve also played the role of an investor. By listing your credentials, you’ll help others see your enthusiasm and dedication to the subject.
6. Include a Sample of Writing
This might be a chapter (or several) from the manuscript. By creating sample material, you’ll give publishers a taste of your style and voice. You can also show how you’ll grab the attention of readers, and what information you’ll be sharing with them.
7. Share Your Marketing and Promotion Plan
This is an essential section of a book proposal, and publishers will pay close attention to what you list here. That’s because they’ll want to know how large your audience is, and how many sales they can expect from it. You can include stats about your social media presence, including followers on platforms. If you send out an e-newsletter, you might list how many readers receive it. Also include speaking engagements, partnerships, podcast information, or other approaches that you plan to use to reach your audience. A solid marketing plan displays your commitment to launching the book and generating sales.
When putting together a book proposal, pay careful attention to each section. When done well, it will help others see your qualifications and the value that your book can bring to the market. If a publisher is interested, they could offer you a contract, and will be there to support you through the process of getting your book into the hands of readers.