October 2010


At IBM Press books – we gets lots of proposals. I haven’t done a full study – but as a betting person –  I would bet that those who submit a thorough proposal seem to get published over those that don’t.  Our proposal form is pretty simple and we offer lots of guidelines.  We also dedicate two full – time folks to the program (yes, I am one of those folks) to counsel prospective authors through the process.  I must admit, it’s aggravating to go back to authors and say – you need to complete all of the sections.  Here are my top three words of advice (pet peeves).

  • When asked what competitive titles there are for your book  – please don’t say “there aren’t any”.  I guarantee you that 95% of the time you are the not the first person to write on the topic.  Please do your homework.  Start on Amazon.  Go to the library.  Walk into a Barnes and Noble or Borders.  We don’t want a count of titles.  We want to know what makes your book different.  Better.  More relevant.  We want to know why a customer will choose your book over a competing title.  Once you read the other books – tell us why there is a market for yours.
  • Be realistic. When asked who is a customer for your book – please don’t say, “every business person”.  Really.  Think about who has the need and desire for your content.  And then think about who will really open up their wallet and buy it.  Be thoughtful with your responses.  Think about the size of company, location (domestic versus international) etc..
  • Do you really want to go it alone. Filling out a proposal form takes time.  Writing a book will most likely take you 2-3 times longer than you thought it would.  Sticking to your submission dates is critical.  Once you have created your outline and proposal hit the pause button.  What is the value of getting a co-author(s).  Will it help the proposal.  Help the content.  Help meeting deadlines.   I am not saying you have to go it as a team – I’m just suggesting when you about to submit your “proposal” – you want may to have others join you at the altar.

I’m just saying.

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