Book Proposal Breakdown: Who’s Your Target Audience?

Whether you’re pitching a book or writing on Medium, don’t skip this essential step!

Dana Leigh Lyons
6 min readSep 13, 2022

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white woman with long, light brown hair in a black dress patterned with pink flowers holding out a turquoise book
Image by Sincerely Media, Unsplash

Have dreams of writing a book? Have a manuscript in progress or ready to go? You’re not alone! The arena has gotten a wee bit crowded since 2020.

Unless you’re going the self-publishing route, one of the first things you’ll need is a polished book proposal. (Even if you are self-publishing or taking a hybrid approach, this document is gold when it comes to knowing what you’re doing and where you’re going with writing, publishing, and marketing your work.)

I wrote two book proposals over the last two years, along with an 80,000-word unpublished memoir and a 20,000-word nonfiction work in progress. That second work is my current focus and the one that I’m actively pitching to agents.

It’s called Act Normal, No One Will Notice: Inheritance, Medicine, Madness, and Prophecy and threads personal story through the fabric of prescriptive nonfiction. It’s a lens on:

  • The Inheritance of all that happens to us, including our wounds, addictions, beliefs, and stories
  • The Medicine we find along the way, including in unexpected people, places, and choices
  • The Madness we feel in the gap between what’s normal and what’s true
  • The Prophecy we receive when we stop clinging to the overhanging branch and surrender to the current

If you follow me on Medium, this likely sounds familiar.

They don’t want your manuscript.

When courting literary agents (who will then pitch your work to publishers), the first step is the query letter. IF that interests them, they’ll request the book proposal.

This document is a project in itself (mine are both more than 100 pages) and includes a number of components. Today, I’m sharing one of them: Target Audience.

Even if you’re not writing a book, defining your Target Audience is an excellent exercise!

The idea is to get clear on whom you’re writing to and how you want to position your work (including on Medium).

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Dana Leigh Lyons

Doctor of Chinese Medicine, Writer, Medium Top Writer in Poetry, Health, Travel, LGBTQ. hello@danaleighlyons.com https://danaleighlyons.substack.com/