How to Fill Out Your Proposal

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In this section:

    You’ve been invited to submit a proposal. What next?

    If we accept your initial inquiry, we create an entry on our database for your book, consisting of eight pages. You will have access to one page only, the Book Details page. The seven other pages (Contract, Publishing Team, Production, Marketing, Financials, and History) open up once you sign your contract.

    To complete your proposal you need to fill out the following fields on your Book Details page: Title; Subtitle; Strapline; Description; Audience; Market Position; Marketing Plan; Competing Books; Unique Selling Points; Estimated Sales; Author Sales; Estimated Word Count; Other Publishers; Files; Endorsements Reviews; Categories. You will also need to fill the following fields in your Profile page: First / Last Name; Website address/social feeds; Address; Full Bio; Short Bio; Previous books. For full guidance on each field click on the links above or please read How To Fill Out Your Proposal.

    When you have finished. click the Click here to submit proposal button at the top of your Book Details page.

    READER REPORTS. If we think that your proposal is promising, we will ask one–three of our readers for their comments. They will leave a Reader Report, usually within two weeks, though times can vary by up to a week, depending on the volume of submissions and staff availability.

    We aim to get reports from different people in the company with different perspectives (e.g. Publishers, Managing Director, Editorial and Marketing staff). Readers will offer their opinions on how the manuscript is working and how it can be improved, marketed, and published. As a way of judging the commercial potential of your proposal, a reader might refer to Nielsen Bookscan figures of competing titles. Each reader is asked for a decision on whether we should publish, and if so, their recommended Contract Level. We usually aim to have a minimum of three reports on your title, but if it's clear from the first one or two that it's not a suitable fit, we may decline at that point.

    Based on their consensus, our Managing Director makes a decision to offer a contract or not, usually within three weeks. Times can vary by up to a week depending on the volume of submissions and staff availability. There is nothing legally binding on either side until contracts are accepted.

    You can find your reports in the Reader Reports box on the Book Details page.

    Filling out the proposal

    For a quick guidance as you’re filling it out, click on For detailed guidance, this page has information on every other field.

    • Don’t include just a synopsis. We need at least 5000 words of the final text, but we much prefer the full manuscript.
    • Don’t use ampersands, quotation marks, hyphens, or other special punctuation.
    • Don’t use non-English characters, such as Greek lettering.
    • Don’t copy and paste info into the fields. It messes up formatting.
    • Do type it from scratch.
    • Do include info that you would be happy to see circulated; no private notes, comments, etc.


    Write the title of your book here. Click the blue text to search for other books with the same title. Book titles typically can't be copyrighted, but if there is a book in the same field, on a similar subject, with the same title as yours, it’s best to choose another title. If there is a book with the same title that sold very well, again, it’s best to choose another title. You don't want to compete with it on retail sites and search engines (your new book will be harder to find). You can change the title yourself, on your Book Details page.

    The title here is automatically filled out from your inquiry. Click the blue text to search for other books with the same title. Book titles typically can't be copyrighted, but if there is a book in the same field, on a similar subject, with the same title as yours, it’s best to choose another title. If there is a book with the same title that sold very well, again, it’s best to choose another title. You don't want to compete with it on retail sites and search engines (your new book will be harder to find). If you would like to change or update your title, click on Edit This.

    Note – if you sign a contract with us you cannot change your book’s title once the production process begins (when you upload your final manuscript for the Manuscript Upload and Approval Workflow section). If you think an exceptional circumstance means your title needs to be changed after this, then please raise the issue on the Author Forum (Editorial & Production: Manuscript queries).


    Inclusion of a subtitle in your book's data is a requirement of our North American distributor, NBN. When a book appears on Amazon in sections such as 'Customers also bought' and 'Related products', having a title followed by a subtitle provides clarity about the book's subject matter and encourages clicks to your book. Visibility is key.

    Non-fiction: A subtitle is particularly helpful because it can help trade buyers and readers to identify instantly the book's theme and its market. Fiction: the North American trade like to have the subtitle "A Novel" included as standard.


    This is the name that will appear on your cover.

    To change your name, click on Profile on the left hand side and edit your Display Name. You cannot change this once the the final drafts of your text and cover have been approved.

    Does your book have more than one author? Please go to the Author Forum: Editorial & Production – Contract queries and ask for other authors to be added.


    The Strapline is a single-sentence pitch for your book;, its max is 20 words. Do not add your biographical details here! They go in your Author Profile. Click on edit this to enter your text.

    If you are offered a contract we use this strapline when finalizing your book’s back cover copy, the text you’ll see on Amazon, trade databases, our website and the marketing materials.

    You can edit this up until your proofs are finalized, when the Proofs Workflow section is approved.


    The Description is copy that describes and sells your book; it’s max is 175 words. If you are offered a contract, we edit this to form the basis of your blurb, or back-cover copy. the text you’ll see on the back of your book. Stick to selling the contents of your book, do not put autobiographical details here.


    Write your intended audience, here. Who is most likely to buy your book and why? Tell us about identifiable, reachable groups, e.g. "40 Amazon customers who reviewed author's previous book", "6,000 followers of the author's blog", "Those who attend author’s workshops" or "Followers of Osho".

    Market Position

    Tell us where your readers will find your book on the bookstore’s shelf. Where would your book sit in the shop, and what type of books would it be alongside? Also, what kind of words and phrases will a reader need to type into a search engine to find your title?

    Marketing Plan

    The Standard amount of marketing time that comes with every title we publish is six hours (unless you purchase Extra Publicity). For that to be effective, our publicists need our authors to be committed to marketing their books. To make the most of this time, we need to know your marketing plan for your book. Write down, here, any social media campaigns, signings or talks, blog tours, articles or interviews you plan to do or reviews that you can attain. please also include:

    • previous books you have written and their sales;
    • your social media numbers — presence on Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media; include numbers of followers, likes, etc;
    • your relevant professional, academic, or life-experience credentials;
    • your website and its visitors numbers;
    • workshops you have run;
    • conferences you have spoken at;
    • radio, TV, or YouTube programs you host(ed) or appear(ed) on;
    • blogs and magazines you write for, with followers or circulation numbers; and
    • networks you are a member of.

    Sales reps, especially in the US, want to see your social media numbers. Knowing the numbers gives them a rough conversion rate on sales to expect. Though not an extract science, the rule of thumb is that 10% of the following will see the post, and from that number, around 10% are likely to buy or read. For example: 1000 followers = 100 see the post = 10 sales minimum. If your numbers are positive, that encourages the sales teams to pitch larger sales of your book.

    Add your name, book, publication date, and list your networks as follows:

    Competing Books

    Bookshop buyers are not going to read your book! Shelf space is limited. If they stock your title, they need to return someone else’s. They want to know where it fits into the market. Some won't stock titles without a list of titles to compare against. Retail buyers in North America particularly ask for this. In addition, they help our readers prepare their reports.

    • If you can, choose titles published in the last two to three years only.
    • Enter author, American publisher, 13-digit ISBN (starting with 978...), date of publication, page extent, and price.
    • The 13-digit ISBN is American. Check on Amazon for details or convert the UK 10-digit ISBN by using
    • To add a book, click the blue + add a competing book.
    • Access to this box will be blocked once your proofs are finalized.

    Unique Selling Points

    What are your book’s unique selling points? Please give three bullet points here.

    Things to think about:

    • What will make a reader want to buy your book?
    • What is new and different about it?
    • How does the book stand out from its competition?
    • What problems will it help solve, or what knowledge does it provide? What is its angle?
    • What about its content, structure, genre, style, or tone makes it different?

    Make sure what you write is:

    • succinct and with high impact;
    • motivating and concrete;

    Avoid hyperboleor being too general, and do not raise points that beg a question. Our readers look at this when they write their reports. If you are offered a contract and accept it, we use this to help create your AI/Tipsheet — your key sales pitch to the book trade. This helps the reader reports but is particularly useful for the AI/Sales sheet.

    Estimated Sales

    Enter, here, the sales figure you expect your book will achieve in its lifetime. If you have published before, please enter the sales recorded on your royalty statements. If you do not, the publisher will have to judge the sales potential on the trade figures we get from Nielsen in North America and the UK.

    Be aware that most people unfamiliar with the industry overestimate their book sales by factors of 10. For an honest look at what to expect from book sales read Average Book Sales Figures: A Transparent Look into Publishing by Sam Jordison. Be as honest and realistic as you can! We won’t be put off by a low figure. We won’t be impressed by a high one, either.

    Author Sales

    How many copies might you order or sell personally? Give a rough number in the Author Sales box. Remember, as an author, you are entitled to a discount of 50% off the RRP.

    Estimated Word Count

    Put your word count here. If you don't yet know the final word count, estimate it to the best of your ability. Write it with numerals only, e.g. 50000, without commas. We need this figure to estimate the cost of publishing the book. The word count includes prelims and end matter. Our books contain roughly 250–350 words per page. 30,000 words is roughly 100 pages.

    Other Publishers

    Have you submitted the book to other publishers? If yes, please list them here.


    Upload your manuscript and any other proposal files here in PROPOSAL DETAILS - Files. If you uploaded your full manuscript with your inquiry, it will transfer across here and be named Original web inquiry attachment. Also, add any other documents or images that you belive will be helpful to us/you (so long as you have permission to use them!).

    • ✅ Upload your file as a doc or docx file.
    • ✅ Please submit only one document, not several for different chapters.
    • ✅ Sample text needs at least 5000 words of the final text, but we much prefer the full manuscript.
    • ✅ For supporting documents, PDFs, JPEGs, and Excel files are okay.
    • ✅ Files up to 4MB are supported.
    • ❌ Files over 4MB are not supported.
    • ❌ Make sure there are no special characters in your filenames, such as / " ! etc.
    • ❌ If your files and filenames are not in the correct format or the wrong size, they will either not upload or issue a warning.
    • In the top right-hand corner of the Proposal section, click + Upload a file, in blue.
    • In Description of File, type in a description of what it is.
    • Click on Choose File and select your file from your computer. Click Import File.
    • A timer will appear while the document loads. After it has loaded, you should be able to View or Delete the file.


    Add any endorsements you have here. Write the name of the endorser in the From box, no more than 150 characters long. If you don't have any endorsements, or have only one or two, you will need to look for more if you sign a contract.

    An endorsement is not a review. It's a short written communication of approval and support for your book from an influencer, usually a known author or professional connected to the genre and subject of your book. Ideally, we want your endorsements in your manuscript when production begins, when you first upload your manuscript. The latest we can receive them is during the Proofreading stage. Endorsements received later than the Proofreading stage will likely result in a corrections fee. If your endorsements are more than 150 words, edit them down to make them immediate and punchy. We can't find endorsements for you.

    If you sign a contract, any endorsement you add here will feed through to the website as one paragraph of text — so make sure what you add is edited and succinct.


    Choose three BISAC codes for your book. These are the industry standard codes used by booksellers everywhere to understand where your book fits in their bookshops. If you are offered a contract and accept it, note that the categories are locked after your book goes into production and you can no longer change them — so choose wisely.


    The information you submit here helps us make a decision on your proposal, and if we offer you a contract, this info will feed through to our website to help us market your book. Your Long and Short Author Bios, Photo, and Social Media connections are particularly important.

    Remember, your location will be needed, and is automatically used for sales and marketing purposes; however, if you have concerns with our use of this information, please get in touch with us on the Editorial & Production forum/Contract queries, and we will assist your concerns from there.

    How to write a good author bio

    • Write it in the third person, e.g., “Peter Field is a leading military historian…”
    • Keep it short, sharp, and relevant, but don’t forget to include key points that your publicist can use when exchanging information with book reviewers and the press.
    • Include any qualifications, books you have written, your level of expertise — anything that makes you stand out from the crowd. Mention any significant newspapers or magazines to which you contribute regularly.
    • Do not bore with detail. You are selling yourself., Talk about things in a style that helps you sound plausible and interesting in the marketplace. Remember your key audience when doing so.
    • Do not write about your family, pets, or holidays, but do say where you live (e.g. Tulsa, Oklahoma). Shops always want to know, and chain stores may order for stores based near your location.
    • Come across as an an excellent communicator, qualified, original, sharp, engaging, friendly, warm, and passionate about your subject.
    • We cannot tailor your author biography for different books. The bio has to suit all your titles.

    Data protection

    We take data protection and privacy very seriously, and your personal profile details, such as residential address, telephone number, and email, are visible only to yourself and CI staff.

    Don’t add anything to your profile that you wouldn’t want shared internally.


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