Below is our list of content for our soon to be fabulous book proposals:
* word count
* audience (who will buy your book)
* book benefits (for non-fiction)
* special features
* models for your book (genre and comparable/competing books)
* a marketing position (what sets your book apart as unique compared to others like your book)
* other books you plan to write
* your platform and promotion plan (extremely important these days!)
Since we've already looked at word count, and how not to get rejected by having the wrong word count, we'll now move onto audience.According to our mentor M, we can get rejected simply by having too large an audience. That seems crazy, you say? Yes, it seems crazy to me, too. But M says, "If you write a book for everyone, no one will buy it." ...and, "If you want to appeal to the masses, make sure you appeal to the one." In other words, be descriptively clear on who--precisely--your foremost target audience is.
Your book is not for Americans, it is not for the old and young alike, and it's certainly not for anyone who loves a good read. Your book is special. Your book is for twelve-year-old Katie, who loves animals and dreams of owning a horse. Your book is for Mrs. Klugmeister who, with her husband, just recently retired and is looking to travel. Your book is for sixteen-year-old Raven who attends a school for gifted kids; she loves poetry, and vampire love stories, and is also a vegan. (Okay, that one might be a hard sell).
Which brings us to Reason No.6 Your Book was Rejected: Your Target Audience is too Small. Describing an audience that is too small (and too focused) produces the same response as describing a target audience that is too big and overly general--REJECTION.
We must take the time to describe our audience, and we must be sure our book satisfies that audience. If we satisfy our main target audience they will refer the book to secondary audiences. So, make Mrs. Klugmeister happy she bought that travel book for the newly retired and she just might love it so much that she encourages others to read it.
Did you notice how I used women for all the above examples? Our mentor M says: "Here's the reality: Women dictate buying in America." ...and, "Women influence 80 percent of the buying decisions in the United States." Keep this statistic in mind when you describe your audience: Is you book only for men (it just might be) or is also for women? If it is also for women, focusing on this market could be the better pay off.
If we make the mistake of forgetting America's large female buying audience, we may just get another rejection: Reason No. 59 Your Book was Rejected: Women Just Aren't That Into You. This doesn't mean that all main characters must be women (not at all). It simply means your book keeps this large market in mind and that you can describe the type of woman who would buy your book. For example, I was once asked to critique a western adventure manuscript in which all the female characters were scared, quiet and loved to cook--all of them. I gently told the author that his take on women needed to expand. He responded, "But my book is only for men."
After describing your main target audience, take the time to describe additional markets. For instance, your book may be a supernatural thriller that follows one woman's journey through spiritual enlightenment. The main market might just be working women in their 30s, but an additional, secondary, market may be Christian women. Mentor M presents the following characteristics when considering your different audiences:
-statistics on sales of other books that are similar to yours
-number of people who have the similar problem that your book deals with