Before you send out your query or a book proposal, take a second look. Have you answered these questions?
What is the “genre” of the book? (humor, history, memoir, travel, how-to, etc)
What is the main subject of your book? (what subject headings would a library give your book?)
What topics will be covered? (what keywords could describe your book?)
Describe your approach to the subject.
What makes your book idea different from what is already available on the bookstore shelves about this subject?
If the answers aren’t rolling off your tongue easier than your elevator speech, you may want to ask yourself the following questions.
In a bookstore, what section would you look for your new book?
Describe the books on the shelf next to yours. Be specific about the current competition for your reading audience. Titles, authors, approaches.
On the back cover of any book you always find subject heads. Go shopping in a bookstore and look at the back covers of books you would place in the same subject area as yours. Think carefully about what subject heads you want to appear here. It determines where your book will be shelved in any bookstore.
Also on the back cover you often find “blurbs” about the book. What do you want those blurbs to say? Who do you imagine would provide a blurb endorsement?
What do you envision on the front cover of your book? Describe what your book “looks” like in aesthetic terms.
Will there be illustrations, diagrams, tables, figures, photographs, or other non-textual material?
So tell me, what is your book about?