Writing a memoir book proposal? Use this checklist.

Stay on task, pace yourself and finish!

I’m deep in the thrill of starting a new project right now, an 80s memoir about houses. Last week, I was feeling really good about how much I had accomplished (a sample chapter and prologue, an overview of the book for a book proposal) until I decided to really map out what it is going to take to get this project done.

So I made a checklist.

This isn’t my first time in this particular rodeo. Memoirs are often sold to traditional publishers based on book proposals and I understand thoroughly what’s needed to put one together.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t use some good visual cues and inspiration to get my head in the game!

I’ll go into the different sections in a separate post soon, but in the meantime, I thought I’d share this checklist with you.

Parts of a memoir book proposal:

  • A catchy title and subtitle
  • An overview of the book
  • A breakdown of the book’s intended audience
  • Information about my writer platform
  • An author bio
  • Any promotional ideas I have for the book
  • An analysis of the other competing books in my category
  • Cover quotes I might include from writers I like and admire
  • An Outline, which is basically a short version of the book with a couple paragraphs for each chapter
  • Sample chapter(s) (In my case, a prologue and two full chapters will work well)

Each of these sections requires a vastly different mind frame. You can’t think about marketing while you’re generating the chapters. You shouldn’t be worrying about how to promote the book when you don’t even know the title yet. You can’t get cover quotes until the whole thing is done.

Really?

That’s not true. One of my friends just wrote up a blurb for the book I’m working on and she hasn’t even seen the pages yet!

So it’s not always safe to put these sections in any particular order because some of the parts will flow freely and easily and others take more time and intense focus. Some will emerge fully formed (especially if you know who you’re writing for) and some will present week-long headaches and challenges.

The important thing is to have each of the sections on its own line where you can check it off as you go along.

Always remember that taking on any big project is a long game — a very, very long game — and it is heartening and inspiring to see how far you are on the path towards completion.

In other words, think of the checks as a little pat on the back. Nobody’s handing out gold stars in this work so you have to award them yourself!

You can download the Memoir Checklist PDF right here!

What do you do to stay motivated while working on a large project? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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