You’ve collected hundreds of great images, you have something important to share and you’re ready to see your book pop onto the shelf at Borders. How do you get from where you are now, to the bookstore?

It all starts with a book proposal.

And it gets harder from here.

The ugly facts are that the recession is making it harder than ever to get a book deal. Photo books are even harder to promote to publishers since they typically don’t sell well compared with the average Stephen King novel.

But nonetheless, books will continue to be made and bought so why not take your shot?

The first thing you’ll need to do is craft a snappy title and come up with your best photo for the proposal. Then you need to write a proposal that convinces the publisher you can write the book.

Here are some suggestions as to format and content. There is no wrong or right way to do this, but the ideas I am sharing with you have worked for me when I pitched books.

1. Title
2. Cover photo
3. Contact info

This needs to be catchy. The cover photo and the title are as much responsible for a publisher responding to your proposal as anything else you do. Get this right.

4. About the author (be brief – only share what you need to share in order to prove you can do this.)
5. Summary (what is the book about.)
6. Organization (how many chapters, pages, illustrations.)
7. Audience (who will buy this book and why.)
8. Competition (are there other books on your topic? Provide details, title, author ISBN and publishing date. Don’t fudge here. The publisher can look this stuff up too.)
9. Status (how long will it take to finish the book? How many pages are ready now?)
10. Proposed Table of Contents
11. Sample images and text

This next section is important!

12. Mission (how is this book different from the competition and what do you hope to accomplish with it?)
13. Sales materials (prepare sales materials in advance to show the publisher that you’re willing to participate in the book’s marketing. Letters, websites, social media accounts and anything else you can show to the publisher in the way of a marketing plan will really help your chances.)
14. Proofread three times (Mistakes at this level are a surefire indicator you don’t have what it takes to do the job.)

Once you have the basics, find out the NAME (not just the title) of the person who reviews book proposals at the publisher you’ve selected. Send them the proposal via courier and make sure to send return postage if you expect materials returned back to you.

Prepare for rejection. Try again. Repeat as necessary.

Eventually, if your idea is strong enough, and you can prove to the publisher that your book will sell, you’ll get accepted.

This process isn’t for everyone. It’s hard to get a book published and frankly, it should be hard. Otherwise, it would be even MORE difficult to find the books we want at Amazon.