Start Here: All the Things for Pitching Your Nonfiction Book

Updated: Oct 15, 2021

A summary of advice and an index to all the

“Pitch What’s True” content

This piece organizes the various articles from my book, Pitch What’s True: A Publisher’s Tools for Navigating Your Best Path to a Published Nonfiction Book* (Everything Goes Media, 2019), that I’ve excerpted on this site, along with a Book Proposal Summary (#4 on this list).


1. What Do I Know from 10,000 Nonfiction Book Proposals? A publisher advises to “pitch what’s true” and “get your soul in the game” Start here to understand my thinking, orient yourself to the task at hand, and prepare yourself to find the right publisher for your nonfiction book.

2. Advance Prep for a Relationship with a Publisher: Lay the groundwork for a fruitful collaboration before you pitch your nonfiction book An introduction to the relationship aspect of working with a publisher.

3. Savvy Author Checklist

This is broken into four parts:

4. Proposal Summary

In short…Do you have something (a fleshed-out idea/book concept, partial manuscript, finished manuscript, or complete package) you believe (better yet, know) to be of real value? If so, continue. If not, go back to that first and alter as needed. What are the missing or weak links? Can/should this current project be salvaged and reworked so that it is of real value, or should it be set aside in favor of your next and better idea?

Just be honest. Is your offering ready to be out there? You’re aiming for real value and not perfection. If not, what do you need to do next? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Combine what you now know about the publisher’s perspective in general and each particular company* with what they want to know about you (see The Book, The Author, and Sales & Marketing above) and put real effort and flair into your most persuasive proposal package.

Do you have the big picture in sight? What is the flair, polish, and personality you can bring, and how are you infusing that into your proposition? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

* Yes, tweak each proposal package/pitch appropriately for every single publisher. You and your proposal(s) will be appreciably more effective when the recipient feels they’re reading something freshly and thoughtfully prepared just for them. Think about it.

This doesn’t have to be onerous. Where are the obvious places in your package that you can customize the pitch for each publisher? Make some notes on the language you’ll use for those points. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Review the tone and content of your proposal package. Remove anything overwrought, inflated, exaggerated, needy, irrelevant, or over-explained.

What needs refinement or has to be cut? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If (that’s a critical if!) you have something of value, believe it deeply and act calmly and confidently from that place. Know it, own it, and approach the publisher as an equal, looking to enter into a mutually beneficial business relationship. Adjust your attitude and mindset to this setting before you begin the journey. Then put in the mental effort to keep it there.

Do you have it? Can you own it? Are you there? If not, what do you need to get there? Get to that place, get the help you need, and get going. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

5. A Step-by-Step Summary for Finding a Nonfiction Publisher: A one-size-fits-most cheat sheet that cuts to the chase This is my overall one-size-fits-most, best approach to locating a publisher that’s a terrific match for you and your project, if 1) you’re not self-publishing, or 2) your book is not a likely candidate for one of the big New York publishing houses (meaning, an agent is much less likely to take it on). Among the remaining 10,000 small- to mid-sized publishers or remaining 80,000 micro-publishers, there may be a handful of houses ready to make you an offer.

6. BONUS! 52 Benefits of Being an Author: Make your expectations and goals explicit to reap proper rewards

7. Conclusion

That’s it! Congratulations to you for taking this first step to properly inform yourself and orient yourself to the task in front of you. I wish you all the best.

*affiliate link.