3 Things Needed For A Fantastic Book Proposal

Are you getting ready to write a fantastic book proposal? It might be that you are looking to query, submitting to Pitch Wars, or perhaps struggling to write your blurb or pitch. Whichever it is, it can be hard to see our novels clearly when we are so close to them. In fact, I believe that this is why writers often find writing a blurb, pitch or query so tricky: we know the entire story, and it’s hard to whittle down all that information.

So, when it comes to writing a book proposal or whittling down those words to a pithy elevator pitch…what should we include?

1: A description that makes the listener/reader sit up and take notice. 

This is your opportunity to really get your story across. So, think about the following:

What is your main character’s problem, the conflict that they are dealing with?
What is their drive to overcome this?
Who or what is standing in their way?
Why does it matter? 

Getting across these elements to the listener will make them want to know more. You do not need to tell them the spoilers; keep those for the synopsis. Whet their appetites by telling them just enough to make them want to read the work.

2: The Vital Information.

What is the vital information? Your genre and word count. You can add these into your pitch to preempt the post pitch questions, proving to the listener that you have come prepared and understand what you have written. The listener may go on to ask you something along the lines of ‘Where would this book fit in a bookshop?’
This question is designed to help them understand how much you know about your genre, so prepare the answer ahead of time.

3: Why you, and why now?

These are two excellent questions to think about ahead of time, and preparing an answer will help you get across the urgency of their requesting to see the entire manuscript. To go deeper into these two short questions:

Why is this book relevant for this person?
Why is now the right time to publish?
What stage is the manuscript in?
Why have you written the novel? 

So, now you know. Include these three things for a fantastic book proposal!

A few weeks ago, a great writer hired me to help her ahead of some agent meetings. After a coaching session, a synopsis to pitch re-write and edit, and some research – she delivered two successful pitches and had manuscript requests from both. If you are looking for some help in the same area, get in touch today. Together, we can tighten up your pitch!

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Looking for a similar read? Check out the following:

Three Things to Avoid When Querying Literary Agents
Five Ways to Find a Literary Agent or Publisher
When to Follow Up With A Literary Agent or Publisher 


3 Things to Avoid When Querying Literary Agents

So, you are ready to query, and you know which literary agents you want to contact. (Hint – if you need some help, check out the bottom of this blog post for some information on how to find literary agents, beta agents, and which path is best for you). Here are the things to avoid when querying Literary Agents.

1 – Sending Work Out Indiscriminately

Like applying for a job, sending out cover letters and samples of your work at random will not end positively. Agents want to know why you want to work with them, why you chose them, and why your work is relevant to their list. If you send work out at random, you are less likely to get a positive response and may even be rejected for a publisher that would suit a novel you haven’t yet written. Get a good name for yourself, focus on the agents that represent the work you have written.

2 – The Cut and Paste 

I used to be a recruitment agent, and let me tell you, we can tell when a cover letter is cut and pasted, and it does not endear you to the applicant for one reason – other people took the time to address you personally. So those are usually the ones you will go with.

Agents can tell too. Instead of cutting and pasting the information in your cover letter and query, research the specific literary agent you are sending your work to, and tell them why you are the best fit for them and why they are the agent you would like to work with. The more research you do, the more likely they are to respond to you.

3 – Querying Too Soon

When should a person query? When your work is finished. A few things can come from querying too soon, and they are mostly: Panic, sweat, grammatical errors. If you send off a few chapters of a novel you’ve written before it is complete, and the agent requests the full manuscript, you will either have to tell them that it is not yet finished or write through the night to get it to them. Either way, the work will not be as good as it might have been initially, which is a real shame. So, don’t rush to print – finish your novel and then send it out.

So there you have it, all in all, the message is: Take your time, do your research, and show the literary agent exactly why you are the writer for them. The harder you work at this stage, the more likely you are to have a positive response.

Found this post helpful? Share it with another writer!

Looking for a similar read? Check out the following:

5 Ways to Find An Agent or Publisher 
5 Ways to Find a Beta Reader
Traditional vs Self-Publishing – Which is Right For You?

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you want to talk about querying, literary agents, self-publishing, or anything to do with your writing life and process. I would love to speak with you about how you can move forward today! an move forward today!


5 Ways to Find a Literary Agent or Publisher

Are you wondering how to find a publisher or literary agent? Let’s chat about five ways to go about it.

You will notice that none of these mention searching on Google. This is for a reason. When you search phrases on Google like ‘Publishers open for submissions’ or the like, what usually comes up is a selection of vanity publishers. Steer clear of these! Whatever you do, always search for publishing house or literary agent reviews before you send your work to them. If they have poor reviews, it’s best not to get involved. Remember – you’ve got the goods, so read on to find out how else you can find an agent or a publisher.

1 – The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook
One of my favourites, this book is released every year and is chockablock with information that could help you get traditionally published. It’s laid out in a very easy to read way so that you can search for those who specialise in your genre. At the very least, check out their website for fantastic resources and information – it’s an excellent asset for writers everywhere! This is for the UK market. The US market has similar with the yearly Writer’s Market, and for those in the same part of the world as I am, you can use the Australian Writer’s Marketplace.

2 – Agent Databases
Agent databases are essentially search systems primarily for agents, and they allow you to filter through to ensure you are finding someone who matches what you have written. Good databases are Agent Query or Query Tracker.

3 – Literary Marketplace
An old school site but with a lot of information at your fingertips, Literary Marketplace is a great resource! You can also find independent publishers here. So, if you are looking to bypass an agent and go straight to a publisher, this might be the resource for you.

4 – Twitter
What? Twitter? Yes! Twitter can be awesome for finding agents. You can use hashtags to find them, and you can also get involved in pitch wars. Pitch wars is an event run on Twitter where writers can pitch to agents and have their manuscripts requested. This actually works – so if you are looking to get involved, set up a Twitter account, and search the hashtag #PitMad. You can also visit to learn more. The next date for this is 2nd September 2021. You’ve got this writer!

5 – Research
The classic. Research books like your own, the same genre, type etc. and find out who published them, who their agent was etc. Create a comprehensive list and get going with your querying!

So, there are five ways to find an agent or publisher. If you ever want to talk about querying or anything related to your publishing goals, whether it is your definition of success or how to find the right route for you, get in touch! I’d love to work with you on publishing your work.

Enjoyed this blog post? Here are some similar ones to read:

Traditional Vs Self-Publishing. Which is right for you?
When to Follow Up With a Literary Agent or Publisher
How to Deal with Constructive Criticism of Your Writing

If you found this useful, share it with another writer!


5 Ways to Find Your Next Beta Reader

You’re writing your novel, and everything is going swimmingly, and then suddenly, you’re done! Well, what now?

It’s time to find those beta readers so that you can start to gather that invaluable feedback.

When looking for a beta reader, make sure that you are approaching people who know about your genre, understand what you require from them, are honest, and great readers.

But apart from this…how do you actually find a beta reader?

Here are five ways to get your work read!

1 Hiring

Yes, if you are struggling to find a beta reader and you want to know that someone is definitely going to prioritise your work, it’s might be time to hire a beta reader.

Many editors can act as beta readers, and you can also find professional beta readers who focus on that alone. Websites such as Fiverr have beta readers at incredibly reasonable prices. However, if you’re not looking to hire someone right now – read on!

2 The Online Writing Community

This is such a fantastic way to find someone to read your work. The online writing community is strong on Instagram and Twitter, so search the hashtag #BetaReader and make those valuable connections. You might also find that you can swap your own novel with another writer’s novel for a beta reading swap.

3 Writing Groups

Search for writing groups in your local area and give one a go! I am a huge believer in the power of writing groups, and it is such a pleasure to attend one and bask in two hours spent a week purely working on the craft that we all love so much. Often members will be willing to read your work, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

4 Goodreads

Yep – Goodreads is not just a review forum! They also have groups, like this one – Here – specifically designed to connect writers to beta readers!

You can also find beta readers on Wattpad.

5 Friends and Family

I say this with some hesitation because whether or not you should ask your friends and family to read your work initially relies on the same things as I mentioned above.

If a friend or family member is going to read your work, still ask yourself whether they are great readers, whether they know about your genre, and whether they can be honest with you.

I am very fortunate to have some great and honest beta readers in my family, and many famous writers also share their work with a spouse or family member before anyone else.

It entirely depends on your relationship and their interests too.

So, there are five ways to find the beta reader for your project!

It can be scary sending your work out there, so do take a look at this blog post on receiving constructive criticism for your work. Overall, choose a good beta reader, and you’re going to reap the rewards of peer review soon enough.

Did you find this post helpful?
If so, share it with other writers who might need a hand finding a beta reader!

Are you looking to hire a beta reader?

As an editor and writing coach, I would be interested in reading your work. Get in touch and tell me about your project.


Traditional Vs Self-Publishing. Which is right for you?

Finished that novel? Amazing – so what’s next?
Yup – you want it to be published.

You’ll see two types of author, those who have been traditionally published, and those who have self-published.

Which is best for you?

Let’s look at the pros and cons of both so that you can make an informed decision.


When it comes to self-publishing there are a few things that make it super attractive.

The first? You are definitely getting published.
That’s a given. Your book is going to be available for other people to buy.

You will also be able to choose all of the elements – the cover, the blurb, the photograph of you on the inside. You’ll get to choose the title, how the book looks, and basically everything about it.

I mean that’s pretty awesome, because it is, after all, your book.

There are also so many easy ways to self-publish these days! There’s the obvious – Amazon – who take you through the process very easily, providing templates etc, and giving you options to order a copy for proof-reading.

You can also choose to publish through other vendors, and you may even be able to get your book into bookstores and libraries. Wattpad also gets an honourable mention as an easy way to self-publish to ready to read readers!

You hold the rights! This is a big one for authors and is not always the case in traditional publishing deals.

The history of people who have self-published is impressive.

Did you know that Beatrix Potter couldn’t get her Peter Rabbit stories published in the way she wanted, so she self-published them?

There are also many success stories of authors who started off self-publishing and now have films made of their books, not to mention traditional publishing houses banging on the door to publish their next work.

This genuinely does happen, but it is not a common occurrence.


Alright, now you’re all fired up to self-publish, let’s have a chat about the cons, because there are some.

Self-publishing means that you’re going to have to do all the marketing. Now, you might love that idea, and have thousands of followers online already, just waiting for the drop of your novel. However, you may not.

Marketing takes a lot of time and effort. Going beyond the actual creation of marketing material, posters, etc, it’s worth remembering that the self-publishing market is heavy with people trying to get you to buy their book. So how are you going to stand out and get noticed?

It’s worth considering writing a marketing strategy. Unfortunately, just having it available to buy online will not equal any sales.

Do you have the time to promote your novel?
Are you willing to put in the hours for a goal that is not necessarily attainable? These are things that are worth evaluating. I would also hazard to ask whether you buy independent self-published books yourself. The self-publishing industry only works if readers are willing to buy self-published works – so if you want to self-publish but don’t currently read other peoples books in this category, I would suggest starting, reading and reviewing!

Money. You are responsible for the costs of everything. It may be that you don’t spend any money and just want to market etc without sponsored posts, hiring marketing people, etc. However, marketing is one of those things that works better when money is involved – for example, social media as a whole is now more pay to play than anything else.

It’s worth chatting to others who have had success self-publishing and working out what they have done right, and how much it would cost you to do the same.

It’s worth considering whether you ever want the novel you have written to be traditionally published.

A lot of agents and publishers will not publish something that has already been published, and this includes making a novel available to people in general (for example, if you put something on your website and people can download it, it’s less likely to be published in the future).

Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing is often spoken of in awed tones, and this is for good reason.

I see it as a sort of golden gate, and a few select people hold the key to the door.

This is problematic for a few reasons – the subjectivity of enjoying a novel, unconscious bias, etc. However, if one writes to an agent, gets selected, and eventually published, there are pros to be enjoyed!

Money. Yep. They give you money for your work, the work you’ve already done, and you don’t need to worry about paying for sponsored posts because it is in their interest to market your novel. You can share your delight on social media, trust that your book is going to end up in the right places and enjoy signing events that are organised on your behalf.

The main thing is you don’t have to worry about whether your book is going to sell – this is your publisher’s job now. You can start writing that next novel.

Once you’ve been accepted into the traditional publishing ring, you will often find it easier to get published from that point on. Your agent may ask you what’s in the pipeline, and you could even get an advance.

Many doors are opened once you are traditionally published, from lecturing positions to conferences and speeches at book fairs. This might not be your idea of fun, but it certainly becomes attainable.

Traditional Publishing

The odds are not in your favour. The odds of getting a literary agent are 1 in 1000 (according to Of those who have completed a manuscript, around 23% achieve the status of traditionally published ( Phew, I know. But listen, it’s not impossible, and it does happen. This is obviously the main con of traditional publishing – nothing is guaranteed.

Money. Hang on a minute – didn’t I say…? Yes! But wait. You’ll get lower royalty rates if you are traditionally published than if you self-publish.

Now you may not mind this, and it depends too on how much you were going to spend on self-publishing, but it’s worth a mention.

You usually don’t get to decide what your cover looks like, what the blurb is, the title of your book, how they will market it, and more. This can be painful if you have a vision for your work and your publishing house decides that it’s going to be something completely different. Overall, once you sign the contract, they have the final say.

It can take up to two years for a book to be published from the time it is accepted. That’s a long wait to hold your novel in your hands.

You may not hold the rights to your work anymore. It’s worth really inspecting that fine print and working out what it means for you and your work.

A Note on Publishing

Whatever you decide to go for, please remember this one golden rule.

You have the goods, and should be paid for that. If you send your work off to a publishing company and they respond asking for an upfront payment, just run away. They are not legitimate, and are a vanity publisher. This could cost you thousands, and you’d still be lumped with the marketing on top of it. It’s never worth it.

Already contacted a publisher and wondering whether to chase?
Check out this blog post on following up with an agent or publisher!

Want to chat more about publishing, or have any other questions?
Get in touch or book a Discovery call


When to Follow up With a Literary Agent or Publisher

Oh, it’s a tricky question.

There you are, waiting patiently for your response from the agent/publisher you have contacted, and suddenly, you start to wonder…

Did they receive my email?

Is it professional to chase and ask what they think?

Are they rejecting without letting me know?

And then the other questions start coming. Is it better to know something than nothing? Are you happy sitting in a strange Schrödinger’s cat type scenario, where the possibilities are preferable to the actual (potentially negative) answer?

Well, fear not.

First of all, it is totally normal to have these questions and thoughts, and it’s completely understandable too.

However, though you may be having these thoughts, it does not necessarily mean a follow-up email is appropriate.

In fact, most agents and publishers would be surprised to receive a follow-up email had they not requested to read more of your work after your initial email.

So when is it okay to send a follow-up email?

It is okay to send a follow-up email if a few rules apply:

You have left a good amount of time between the initial email and your follow up email. A week, or even a month, is too short a time (sorry).

If it’s been about three months, then you are in a good time frame, but make sure number 2 applies first…

You have checked the submission page of the company and it doesn’t have a ‘no response caveat’. For example, if they have written something along the lines of ‘If you have not heard from us after two months, you have been unsuccessful’. If this is stated, and you haven’t heard from them, a follow-up email does not need to be sent (as the answer to your request is already implied).

They requested a full manuscript, and you sent it. They will be expecting you to follow up in this scenario, just make sure that you have given them time to read the manuscript.

If you are happy that this is the case, it’s now okay to send that follow up email.

So, what do you say? Well, I find it is best to keep it simple.

For example:

Dear Agent/Publisher (use the actual name!),

I am writing to follow up on my email sent on 9th March 2021, regarding my novel The Follow Up Email. Could provide me with an update on the status of my submission, please?

I appreciate that you are extremely busy, and thank you for taking the time to read my email.

Kind regards,

Hopeful Author (use actual name!)’

As you can see, this email is short, polite, and to the point. I also acknowledge that they are busy people and that their attention is appreciated.

Once you have followed up, wait for a response, and chase no more.

Best of luck!