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5 Reasons Why You Should Absolutely Write a Book Proposal (Even if You’re Self-Publishing)

Was that an aggravated groan I heard?

I know, friend. Writing a book proposal is hard work. It’s like sticking green painter’s tape to the wall for three hours when all you want is to paint already.

But without painter’s tape, your walls will look terrible. And without a book proposal, your book will come out just as messy.

Doing the hard work of finding your ideal reader, defining your takeaway message, and researching comparable titles strengthens your book. EVEN if you’re self-publishing. You may not show this proposal to a publisher, but there’s a reason why publishers want them. And, if you’re aiming for a high quality book, then you should want one too.

Here are a few reasons why.

1. A book proposal forces clarity.

In a proposal, you need to know your audience, your main message, and comparable titles. You work out the flaws and tighten the slack. Your nebulous idea is formed into a concrete one, which can be a scary feeling. You lose control of it; you see its flaws. But you’ll be surprised at its depth and beauty once it finds its footing. And if you don’t, you’ve saved yourself months of pounding out words for nothing.

2. A book proposal helps you write a better book.

Self-publishing carries a tarnished reputation for lower quality. But your book doesn’t have to be. You can shine out of the shallow sea of cheap books with a solid, clear book proposal. Because you’ve forced clarity, your reader will walk away more encouraged, informed, or entertained. Your focus is for their benefit.

3. A book proposal helps you fight writer’s block.

Another part of the proposal is your table of contents and breakdown of each chapter. This outline will keep you going when you get lost in the muddy middle of writing. When you sit down to write, you know where to go and often this helps beat back that dreaded writer’s block.

4. A book proposal helps you fall in love with your ideal reader.

One of my coaching clients struggled to know her ideal reader well. I encouraged her to write a letter to her. A few days later, she texted me with tears in her eyes thinking about that one woman she wanted to write to.

If a proposal feels wooden and dispassionate to you, then throw the word out. Instead, consider it a love letter to your ideal reader. Your proposal is all of the ways that you can help her.

5. A book proposal gives you more confidence and passion.

As you examine your experience and expertise, you begin to realize that you can write about this. You can help people! You know how to position your book just right to reach the people who need this message. And when the writing gets rough and you want to give up, you can come back to your love letter-proposal to keep you going.

Ready to get going but not sure where to go next?

My Confident Writer’s Guide helps you clarify the big pieces of your book proposal: ideal reader and your message. You even get a basic proposal template to help you narrow it down! And even if you’re not ready to write a proposal just yet, this course can help you solidify your foundation so writing that eventual proposal is a breeze.


Hey, I'm Mikaela. 

I'm an editor and writing coach. 
Want to overcome the panic of a blank page? 
Discouraged by negative thoughts? 
Want to improve your writing? 
I'd LOVE to help you. 
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