How to write the Book Proposal to Publisher, part two

The Writer's Desk

The Writer’s Desk

This post is a continuation of a previous post, found at An additional note here, it refers to non-fiction book proposals only.

In the previous post I talked about the central argument to the publisher — the reason why you think the publisher you have chosen will want to publish your book. I also went through the next step: the synopsis — a chapter-by-chapter (or section-by-section) breakdown of the book’s contents.

The next sections of a typical Non-Fiction book proposal are Marketing, and Competition. So here we go, under the heading —

Marketing and Competition

Because there are no books that speak of the important years of the fur trade after 1843, when most of the changes that created British Columbia occurred, there is no direct competition for this book. There are, however, books that complement it.

  • The book will sell to local historians and descendants of fur traders who want to know what happened in the fur trade after 1843, where Richard Mackie’s Trading Beyond the Mountains: the British Fur Trade on the Pacific, 1793-1843 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2003) ends. If Mr. Mackie wrote a second volume covering the years after 1843, Alexander Caulfield Anderson would be a major character in his history.
  • James R. Gibson’s The Lifeline of the Oregon Country: the Fraser-Columbia Brigade System 1811-47 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1997) covers only the history of the Okanagan and Thompson Plateau brigade trail. Those who want to know more about the history of the Cariboo, Anderson’s River, and Coquihalla Brigade trails would purchase this book.
  • Students of history in the fields of fisheries management or settlement of Native reserves might purchase this book, as Anderson’s important work in these two fields are covered in two books: Douglas C. Harris’s Fish, Law and Colonialism: the Legal Capture of Salmon in British Columbia (Toronto: UofT Press, 2001); and Cole Harris’ Making Native Space: Colonialism, Resistance, and Reserves in British Columbia (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2002).
  • Grant Keddie, curator and archaeologist at Royal British Columbia Museum, considers Alexander Caulfield Anderson a significant historical figure in British Columbia, and used Anderson’s writings in his article on “Japanese Shipwrecks in British Columbia — Myths and Facts,” published on the Royal British Columbia Museum website.
  • Local historians who purchased Marie Elliott’s recently published history Fort St. James and New Caledonia: Where British Columbia Began (Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 2009) would also purchase this book.
  • So, too, would readers of Stephen Hume’s Simon Fraser: In Search of Modern British Columbia (Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 2009). Like most of the others in this list, this book tells the story of British Columbia’s early fur trade history. No other fur traders’ story would cover the pivotal years between 1843 and 1858, as Anderson’s does.
  • Readers with an interest in the 1858 gold rush probably purchased The Trail of 1858: British Columbia’s Gold Rush past, by Mark Forsythe and Greg Dickson (Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 2007), or Netta Sterne’s Fraser Gold 1858! (Pullman, WA: WSU Press, 1998). Those same readers might also purchase this book to learn more about the trails that carried the gold miners north.
  • To reach the readers who buy history, the publisher should advertise in the Canada’s History (formerly The Beaver), and in other historical journals in British Columbia, Washington State, and Oregon.
  • Anderson’s story will sell in bookstores all over British Columbia, in small towns and large as far east as the Okanagan, and northward through the Cariboo as far as Fort St. James. (Oh, how naive I was when I wrote this! There are very few bookstores in British Columbia.)

I listed other examples of where I thought my book would sell, and other information that I thought relevant to the publishing of my book. Then I went on to the next section — the author. When the author is descended from the man he/she is writing about, he must choose whether or not to mention that fact. I chose not to. But for you, a connection with your subject might be important, and so state this connection in this part of your proposal.

About the Author

The author has always had a strong interest in Alexander Caulfield Anderson, and has researched Anderson’s story since 1985. She has pulled information from both the British Columbia Archives and Hudson’s Bay Company Archives in Winnipeg, where many of Anderson’s letters and reports are stored.

Much of the Anderson-Seton family information comes from the Papers of the Seton Family of Mounie, University of Aberdeen Archives, and from sources in the National Archives of Australia and the State Library of New South Wales, Australia.

When it appeared that the manuscript was approaching completion, the author gave it to four beta-readers for comments and corrections.

  • One was a historical geographer and brigade trail researcher
  • The second was a Native American descendant of fur traders who lived on the Columbia River
  • Author (name omitted) was my third reader. She researches and writes histories of the lower Columbia River and its fisheries
  • The final reader was a retired academic and Anderson-Seton family researcher in England.

The author has used the professional editing services provided by (name omitted) who is well known and respected in the publishing business locally.

Is this the perfect Book Proposal? Probably not. Did it work? Yes, it did.

Before you start writing yours, you will need to research what information your publisher-of-choice will want to receive from you, and aim your proposal at him by following his instructions. Make it as well written as you can possibly manage, because this is the first proof that you can actually write. If you have an editor, have her read it over and approve it, if she will. And she probably will — she wants you published too.

Copyright, Nancy Marguerite Anderson, 2014. All rights reserved.