First Step for Science Authors: Write a Book Proposal

Tip#2In this blog, I am sharing how I am mentoring a group of high school science students to write and publish a book about their science research experiences by April 2015 with the goal of selling 500 copies by the end of the school year. 

TIP #2: Have students draft a book proposal as a first step in writing a book. Traditional publishers have always required a book proposal from a prospective author. It is like a business plan for the book, giving the summary of the book’s contents, the target audience, and a marketing plan to reach the audience. Each publisher has a different format for the book proposal, but they all have these essential elements. Even though we are self-publishing our books, by doing a book proposal first, we start out with the same disciplined approach to writing a book that a traditional publisher would give us. (Note: I got this idea from author/publicist, Carole Jelen, in an interview on called “How To Build Your Author Platform.”)

Here is the abbreviated book proposal we used:

  • A statement of what the book’s main focus or purpose is.
  • A general outline of the book.
  • Identification of sources for the book and where to find them.
  • Identification of the target audience.
  • A plan to reach the target audience.

What a book proposal does is get the students to consider their audience from the start. Unlike a term paper or other academic paper that is meant primarily for the teacher to read, a published book seeks to appeal to many readers. By identifying the target audience, students can put themselves in the place of the audience as they write. Students had difficulty with this first step, so I had to give follow-on guidance. One tip I shared from a writers conference I attended was to cut out a magazine picture or print out some other photo of a person representing the target audience and paste it on your computer monitor as a constant reminder to whom you are writing. There are many sources out there with good advice – I list some on the Resources page of my website.

Next week, my post will have a tip on scheduling out the project to build readership before publishing. 

Subscribe to this blog at to get email updates of my posts with weekly tips you can use in your classroom as I describe how I am mentoring six high school science students to become published authors by April 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.



Author: bryanholmesstem

Physics and Math Teacher, STEM Competition Mentor - starting at Thomaston High School, CT, in fall 2018.

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