Book Proposal Breakdown: How to Write Your Author Bio & Get Picked

What to include and what to avoid

Dana Leigh Lyons
5 min readSep 17, 2022


Image by Quỳnh Lê Mạnh, Unsplash

Yay! You’re a writer! Not only that, but you have a groundbreaking book in mind and are eager to snag a literary agent.

Who are these mythical, mystical, elusive beings? Well, in the Realm of Traditional Publishing, they are your first gatekeeper. The way things typically work, you’ll query literary agents and, if one is interested, they’ll request your book proposal.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this series, do not send your nonfiction manuscript or book proposal to agents or publishers unsolicited (unless specified in the submission guidelines, which is rare).

Instead: You query. You wait (often for many months). You hope you’re the one amongst tens of thousands. NBD

As someone who has not (yet) been picked, I’m by no means an expert.

I have had my book proposals reviewed by experts, however, and they gave them the green light and glowing reviews (she adds modestly, in an effort to counter the incessant internal voices asserting: So what? You still haven’t been picked!).

I’ve also spent the past two years immersed in learning about the book proposal and publishing process. Let me tell you, it’s a whole thing. And, if you’re like I was, it’s probably drastically different than you ever imagined.

Know what though? It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If you’re seeking a next right step, this Book Proposal Breakdown series is for you. To recap…

The standard format for a book proposal is:

  • Times New Roman font
  • 12 pt.
  • Double spaced
  • Paragraph indents
  • Page numbered

It should include the following components:

  • Title Page with the book title and your name and contact information (I include my email, phone number, and website url.)
  • Book Proposal Table of Contents (This should include page numbers for the components below.)
  • Overview
  • Author Bio



Dana Leigh Lyons

Doctor of Chinese Medicine, Writer, Medium Top Writer in Poetry, Health, Travel, LGBTQ.