How to Get a Book Contract From a Legitimate Publisher

It could be the key to marketing your business and advancing your career.

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You know that publishing a book could exponentially grow your business. It can bring you more sales, more fame and launch you into a new industry as a speaker or consultant. In essence, it can give you the brand name needed to make your dreams come true.

That said, you probably also know that self-publishing should be your very last option, because it is fraught with problems and con games and costs money out of your pocket. But how do you get a legitimate publisher interested in your nonfiction book? (Note: this is not about publishing your novel. I know nothing about that!) You’re going to need two things: an excellent proposal and a strong marketing plan.

Read This: Ultimate Guide to Platform Building | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound

A nonfiction book proposal is to the publishing industry what a business plan is to venture capitalists, and for the same reason: You’re trying to get a complete stranger to invest their money in your dream. Along with two sample chapters, it should cover these five basic parts:

1. The Overview

Where you outline your credentials, your ability to sell this book and a little about its content.

2. Your Bio

Who you are why you are the right person to write this book.

3. Competitive Analysis

Proof that similar books exist and are selling well, but that yours is still vitally important to publish.

4. Chapter Summaries

A loose outline of what you intend to include and the order in which you might present it.

5. Marketing Plan

How you will ally with your publisher to sell a gazillion books in record time.

Related: Why Every Entrepreneur Should Write a Book

That last bit, the marketing plan, is what trips up most would-be authors who think their idea is so brilliant that it will magically rise to the surface. But there are millions of books in print, with a million-plus more self-published every year. (Although it’s true a lot of those dreadful self-published books are about people’s painful childhoods or the story of their cat channeling the secrets of the universe.) Getting in a position where your book actually fulfills your business goals is called “building a platform,” as outlined in my most recent book with Entrepreneur Media, The Ultimate Guide to Platform Building. While I think you should immediately buy yourself a copy and read it six times until you can recite it (and, please, alsoo give one to everyone you know), I’ll share some select tips right here.

1. Your marketing plan, or platform, should be aligned with your specific goal, be it selling more stuff, growing a speaking career, etc.

2. You should do the things you’re naturally good at, which is likely not everything. Focus on your strengths.

3. You will benefit most by being logical in your marketing efforts. Spreading yourself too thin financially or time-wise will cause you to burn out and ultimately defeat the purpose of being a published author.

4. A legitimate publisher will help you to supersize your marketing/platform building, but they will not create it for you. They can help you make it grow, but you need to have things in process already.

5. A book is the single greatest imaginable tool, but like all tools, you have to use it to create a result.

Your journey to a contract with distinguished publishers like Penguin Random House, HaperCollins, McGraw Hill, Entrepreneur or Simon & Schuster depends on taking the right steps in the right order. The system works if you work it, and disappoints if you don’t. Write a proposal, get an agent, execute your  marketing plan and watch the results flow in fast.

Wendy Keller is a literary agent with 18 New York Times best sellers to her agency’s credit. She has closed more than 1,700 deals for authors and speakers worldwide and trained more than 25,000 authors on how to craft a book proposal that can sell to a publisher via To pitch your nonfiction book to Keller Media, visit  




more recommended stories

  • Explaining the Benefits of Cannabis to Your Grandma

    Future studies are still needed, but.

  • 9 Ways to Handle Job-Related Stress From Dawn to Dusk

    It’s all in a day’s work..

  • Want to Become a Better Communicator? Learn to Listen.

    Cross-check your own habits with these.

  • How a Terrible Motorcycle Accident Led to a Business Built on Relieving Pain

    Dr. Jason Wersland describes his invention,.

  • Upgrade Your Facebook Marketing Efforts With This Course

    Get ahead of the competition with.

  • Success Lies in the Subtleties, and Every Second Counts

    John K. Coyle, discusses why a.

  • Entrepreneurship Often Involves Uncertainty. Here’s How to Deal With It Productively.

    The future may be unknowable, but.

  • How to Use Your Calendar Like GPS

    This author breaks down how he.

  • Here’s How to Reduce the Cost of Cannabis for Consumers

    Consumers could be saving money while.

  • 6 AI Tools Entrepreneurs Can Use on a Budget

    Countless businesses are already taking advantage.

  • 4 Things Your Team Manifesto Must Spotlight

    Done well, and this mother of.

  • ‘Why Can’t I Focus?’ Here’s What the Science Says.

    August 16, 2019 1 min read.

  • Taking on a Much Bigger Rival in a Hyper-Competitive Segment? Try a Move From This Playbook.

    Mazda’s North American president explains how.

  • How to Make PR Work For You

    Here are the decisive factors you.

  • Why Your Business Growth Depends on IT Infrastructure

    Success only evolves if company tech.

  • How to Turn Your Biggest Fear Into Your (Career) Superpower

    Negative beliefs can derail success, but.

  • Use This Secret Military Trick to Tell if Someone Is Lying

    January 30, 2019 5 min read.

  • This High-Performance Psychologist Explains How to Push the Boundaries of Human Potential

    Dr. Michael Gervais’ client roster includes.

  • The Rise of Impostor Entrepreneurs

    It’s not only easier to steal.

  • What This Defense Consultant Learned From His Felony Conviction

    Justin Paperny served 18 months in.

  • How Self-Driving Cars Could Shape Our Future

    Once challenges are surmounted, the world.

  • This is Weed You Can Wear

    Double Barrel Chief Brand Officer Ann.

  • If You Love Doing Something, Chances Are That Other People Do, Too. Here’s How to Start an Experience-Based Business.

    Catch the trend of entrepreneurs starting.

  • This Latina Ganjapreneur Is Making Sure That Women Aren’t Overlooked

    Priscilla Vilchis was the first Latina.

  • Nobody Will Take Care of Your Money Better Than You

    Troy Murphy, founder of Sweven Wealth.

  • Barstool's Dynamic Duo Bonds Over 'Beatz N Eats'

    Willie Colon and Large, co-hosts of.

  • What Millennials Really Want From Weed

    Cy Scott of Headset Inc. joins.

  • 7 Ways to Learn From Difficult Conversations

    Uncomfortable encounters can actually help open.

  • 4 Security Tips To Help Your Business Grow

    Technology is the key to making.

  • Over-Promising is the Worst Mistake an Entrepreneur Can Make

    Nothing will underwhelm clients and customers.

  • Should You Invest in Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies? Experts Share Best Practices in a Volatile (Yet Maturing) Market.

    Inventing in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies could.

  • Yes, Your Company Can Still Monitor Marijuana Use

    Pot may be legal in some.