SAMPLE BOOK PROPOSAL (from a Professional Literary Agency)

It is a lot of work to create a good book proposal, but it is one of the most important aspects of landing a reputable publisher.!

Michael Christian (penname: William Cane) has a helpful website for writing proposals.   There, he explains that the basic parts of a book proposal include the following sections:




Competing Books

About the Author

List of Chapters

Chapter-by-Chapter Summary

Sample Chapters


 Below is a sample of a complete and exhaustive book proposal for a Christian non-fiction manuscript. It is by David Sanford, a published author, editor, and literary agent for more than 300 books who now serves on the leadership team at Corban University. (Used by permission). There are sections in this sample proposal that you may or may not want to include, or cannot include, but this will give you a good idea of how your own book proposal can catch the eye of an acquisitions editor.




If God Disappears:

9 Faith Wreckers and What to Do About Them


David Sanford 


This book offers encouragement and empowers readers to re-embrace the Christian faith after drifting away from the Lord and from the church.


Christian Living / Spiritual Growth


Primary: The 59 million American adults who are “absolutely committed” to the Christian faith, who don’t ever want to spiritually drift, and who feel deeply concerned when a family member or friend begins to experientially lose his or her faith.

Secondary: The 31 million American adults who have trusted Jesus Christ for salvation, and who say that commitment is still important to them, but who have struggled with faith or relational issues and quit going to church. Also, the 11 million American adults who currently attend church but are not moderately or strongly committed to the Christian faith yet.


Everyone has or will face crises of life and faith. These pivotal times are part of everyone’s spiritual journey. Why then do some people emerge from the crisis with their faith intact while others give up on God, the church, and holy living? Walking through each crisis—while purposefully maintaining our faith—is the key to emerging from the crisis with our faith still vibrant and alive.

Books by George Barna, George Gallup, Jr., et al., have noted the growing American trend toward spiritual drifting. Yet few books specifically address the millions of American Christian adults who are caught in this trend. One of the most important titles, Walking Away from Faith by Ruth Tucker (InterVarsity, 2002), offers a brilliant historical and anecdotal analysis of the problems—but doesn’t offer readers hope.

It takes more than analysis to help readers overcome the perils of faith crises! For every Christian who is spiritually drifting—or is on the verge—or knows someone who is considering leaving God and the church behind—here is the book that compassionately comes alongside readers and empowers them to re-embrace their faith.

This book is written in a popular, conversational style. It’s easily accessible to those who don’t know much about the Bible, yet the book’s message is solidly evangelical, theologically accurate, and culturally informed. The chapters include contemporary real-life stories and insights from a wide spectrum of Christian leaders.


In this book, the author:

  • · Presents his own crisis of faith.
  • · Shows how prevalent the theme of spiritual drifting is from Genesis to Revelation.
  • · Presents compelling biblical reasons why keeping one’s faith is so difficult—yet so imperative.
  • · Shows how a wide variety of Christian leaders over the years have experienced a profound crisis of faith, yet persevered and gone on to lead fulfilled lives and effective ministries.
  • · Presents many true-life conversations with former church members who have lost their faith.
  • · Shows how the American church has often turned a blind eye to these crises of faith and (not inconsequentially) lost half its members this past generation.
  • · Presents many encouraging true-life conversations with individuals who have re-embraced the Christian faith after walking away from God and the church.
  • · Presents ways to genuinely embrace the Christian faith…for life.


The era of “cocoons” is passing. This dominant lifestyle trend started in the late 1980s and provided marketers and advertisers with a guide to the consumer psyche. According to Christian Retailing, the new dominant lifestyle trend is “butterflies,” a metaphor for consumers actively seeking to reconnect with their worlds.

Spiritually, “butterflies” want help openly addressing their past crises of faith—and want assistance reconnecting with God. That’s what If God Disappears is all about!


  1. The reader will learn how to walk through each crisis of faith without giving up on God.
  2. The reader will feel the compassion and understanding they have longed to receive from the church. If God Disappears drops the guilt and compassionately addresses the personal, practical, biblical, and theological issues surrounding crises of faith.
  3. While recognizing their story in the pages of If God Disappears, the reader will discover compelling biblical reasons why keeping one’s faith is so difficult—yet so imperative.
  4. The wide variety of true stories will encourage and inspire the reader to stay on course with God for years to come.
  5. The reader will be able to identify the nine ways people drift away from the Lord: religious difficulties, desire for moral license, personal pride, unresolved anger, a lack of heartfelt devotion to God, theological studies divorced from authentic experience, evil and suffering, chronic difficulties, ethical compromises.
  6. The reader will learn how to turn back to the Lord and keep on course with h


There are no books on the market today that address the prevalent occurrence of Christians walking out the backdoor of the church, closing their Bibles, and turning their eyes away from God. Though thousands of Christians are tempted to give up on the Christian faith each week, no one has addressed the problem and how to avoid succumbing to “losing” one’s faith.

There are six titles available that address life hardships and the desire to abandon God or the church. They are:

Walking Away from Faith by Ruth Tucker (InterVarsity, 2002). Offers a brilliant historical and anecdotal analysis of the problems—but doesn’t offer readers hope.

Scaling Life’s Summits: Surviving the Climb Without Losing Your Faith by Bill Woolsey and Scott Kaiser (PublishAmerica, 2004). Addresses the “seven dilemmas” that make people question God’s plan for their lives: aging, death, disaster, divorce, guilt, illness, and unemployment—and how the Bible makes it possible to “overcome” these dilemmas. Doesn’t truly address the problem—or solution—of losing one’s faith.

When It Seems All Hope Is Gone: Discover How to Regain Your Faith and Restore Your Life by Richard Roberts (Harrison House, December 2005). Oral Roberts’ son’s story of facing despair and discouragement and yet being restored by God. Emphasis is on God’s healing power in our lives, told through Richard Roberts’ personal story.

Keep On Keeping On: How To Stay Faithful Serving God by Leslie B. Flynn (Magnus Press, January 2005). The author shares how to identify and beat discouragement while serving God in ministry. Doesn’t address losing one’s faith, just burn-out in ministry.

Hope Resurrected: Let God Renew Your Heart and Revive Your Faith by Dutch Sheets (Regal, 2004). Offers the solution to lost hope: drawing near to God in order to get through life’s difficult times.

Walking with God in the Last Days by Ray Hoover (Xulon Press, 2002). Encourages readers to ask themselves if they have faith—not saving faith—but faith that allows you to grow as a Christian.


What’s the greatest crisis among Christians today? David Sanford, co-author of the Living Faith Bible(Tyndale), God Is Relevant (Doubleday), and How to Read Your Bible (W Publishing Group),contends it’s our inability to talk with each other when we find we’re losing our faith. Not losing our salvation—but losing faith in the Lord, in the Bible, in the church, or in traditional Christian beliefs.

Like most people, you probably have more than one relative or friend who has left the church and experientially lost his or her Christian faith. Maybe it’s been your own experience. Sadly, many people feel their church isn’t a safe place to talk about losing one’s faith. As a result, of the nearly 75 million American adults who have trusted Jesus Christ for salvation, more than 31 million have quit going to church. Thousands more will join their ranks this week.

This book drops the guilt and compassionately addresses the personal, practical, biblical, and theological issues surrounding this crisis.

  • Is it really possible to lose your faith?
  • Why did so many good people in the Bible lose their faith?
  • Why is the theme of keeping the faith so prevalent in the Old and New Testaments?
  • How can you help a friend who is struggling?
  • What should you do if you experience a personal crisis of faith?
  • How can you and I reach out to those who have left the faith?
  • Is there hope for a friend or loved one to re-embrace the faith he or she once had? 


  • Moria Brown (friend, co-host of 100 Huntley Street)
  • Pat Williams (friend, senior vice president, Orlando Magic)
  • Dr. Steve Stephens (friend, psychologist, best-selling author)
  • Dan Kimball (best-selling author of They Like Jesus but Not the Church)
  • Paul Byrd (friend, pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, author of Free Byrd)
  • Dr. Luis Palau (friend, noted Christian statesman, evangelist, broadcaster, and author)
  • William Carmichael (best-selling author, publisher, speaker)
  • and many others interviewed for this book including:

George Barna                                     Steve McVey

Dr. Al Baylis                                        Mark Mittelberg

Dr. Steve Brown                                 Daniel Owens

Spencer Burke                                    Dr.Alvin Reid

Gracia Burnham                                 Dr. Tim Robnett

Phil Callaway                                     Floyd Schneider

Scott Dawson                                    Mike Silva

Adam Erwin                                       Stephen Sorenson

Josh McDowell                                  Dr. Marty Trammell

Chip Ingram                                       Rusty Wright

Mark Miller                                          Rick James

Tamara Park                                     Sally Morgenthaler

Jim Palmer                                        Dave Burchett

Julie Woodley                                   Paul Louis Metzger


  • Format: Hardcover with dust jacket
  • Word Count: 57,500
  • Page Count: 224
  • Deadline: Six months after a signed contract           


David Sanford and his wife, Renée, own Sanford Communications, Inc., a company that works with Christian ministry leaders and publishers to develop life-changing books, Bible-related products, and other Christian resources.

David Sanford was graduated with top honors from Multnomah University. Prior to starting Sanford Communications, Inc., David served as Vice President of Publishing and Internet Ministries for the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association. David also served as Adjunct Professor of Journalism at Corban University and as Instructor of Mass Media at Multnomah Biblical Seminary.

David Sanford is the conceptual designer and executive editor of the Starting Point Study Bible (Zondervan, 2002), a 2003 Gold Medallion finalist for best Bible of the year. In addition, David and Renée are creators and co-authors of the 400 pages of devotional application notes for the Living Faith™ Bible (Tyndale, 2000). Most recently, they served as co-authors of How to Read Your Bible (Thomas Nelson, 2005) and creators of three popular BibleZines™ (Thomas Nelson, 2006).

David is the editor of scores of books produced by the ECPA’s leading publishers (helping them win several ECPA Gold Medallion Awards), contributing author of More Than Conquerors (another ECPA Gold Medallion winner), and co-author of Calling America and the Nations to Christ (with Luis Palau) and God Is Relevant (Doubleday—a Crossings Book Club selection).

In addition, David has been interviewed and quoted by Today’s Christian, Christianity TodayWorldUSA TodayThe Los Angeles Times, and other leading periodicals. David’s biography appears in several editions of Who’s Who in America.

David is a judge for the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s new Christian Book Awards (formerly Gold Medallion Awards) and an associate professional member of the Christian Booksellers Association.

David and Renée have been married for twenty-five years and are the parents of five children: Elizabeth (married to Billy Honeycutt), Shawna (age 21), Jonathan (age 20), Benjamin (age 11), and Annalise (age 8). They live just outside Portland, Oregon, where David serves as lay teaching pastor at Spring Mountain Bible Church.

Over the past few years, David has presented the message of this book at a growing number of Christian conference centers, colleges, universities, and seminaries.


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The author is a publishing veteran (26+ years) who will work closely with the publisher to actively promote If God Disappears through feature articles published in leading Christian periodicals. As well, the author has created a If God Disappears Web site (, blog ( and is developing other mass media and e-promotional author promotion strategies.


  • >67,000 God Is Relevant (July 1997)
  • >38,000 Living Faith™ Bible (September 2000)
  • >59,000 Starting Point Study Bible (March 2002)
  • <10,000 How to Read Your Bible (December 2005)


[Untitled—endorsements of this book]                                                  2 pages

[Untitled—quotes related to the topic of losing one’s faith]                   2 pages

[Amplified Table of] Contents                                                                    3 pages

Introduction: Anyone Can Drift Away                                                      9 pages

The book begins by asking readers, “Is it really possible to lose one’s faith?” and explaining what is meant (and not meant) by that important question.

The author will present his own testimony in order to describe the positive difference Jesus Christ makes in a person’s life when he or she trusts Him. He will present several true-life stories to help readers remember what it means to be spiritually lost, and affirm what the Bible teaches about assurance of salvation.

He will then ask readers, “What is the biggest temptation you and I will face this year? Next year? And for the rest of our lives?” From Scripture he will show the biggest temptation is to experientially let go of our faith and lose it.

The Introduction will close by addressing the common misconception, “But that couldn’t happen to me,” by showing how the author temporarily lost his faith nearly a decade ago. Readers will have an opportunity to identify how far they have drifted by measuring their responses to personal doubt, unanswered prayer, and other tough issues and by considering the critical life junctures where we’re all more vulnerable.

By the end, this Introduction will motivate readers to discover how to prevent (or correct) their own tendencies to spiritually drift away from the Lord—and how to help others.

Chapter 1: Home Sweet “Home”: Church Pain                                        20 pages

This chapter shows how confusion, rejection, or painful experiences can make it difficult to connect (or reconnect) with God and the church. Also includes several compelling conversations with members of the emerging generations.

Chapter 2: Without Restraint: Moral License                                          20 pages

This chapter shows how the desire for moral license—evolved from unconfessed sin, habitual sin, and new temptations—can rob us of faith. It shows how the desire for moral license has been rationalized by many individuals (some famous)—each of whom chose to drift away from God.

Lessons from Scripture will show how, by the Holy Spirit’s filling, to deal with the desire for moral license to prevent or overcome spiritual drifting.

Chapter 3: Before the Fall: Pride                                                               20 pages

This chapter presents several compelling conversations and stories to show how pride can rob us of faith. Excessive pride leads to a lack of dependence on, respect for, and interest in God and leads us down a self-destructive path.

Lessons from Scripture will show how, by the practice of spiritual disciplines, to deal with pride to prevent or overcome experientially losing one’s faith.

Chapter 4: Out of Control: Anger                                                              25 pages

Like immorality and pride, anger can rob us of faith. It is especially destructive if it is directed toward one’s father or mother, spouse, authority figure (including church leaders), and those opposed to the Christian faith.

The author will show how he incorrectly dealt with anger toward his own father, an atheist who for years was furious that his son had become a Christian.

Lessons from Scripture will show how to correctly deal with anger to avoid the danger of giving up on the faith.

Chapter 5: Silent Killer: Neglecting Our Faith                                        20 pages

Neglecting our devotion to God can cause us to lose our faith. Unsuspecting Christians can fall into busyness, refusal to wait on God, misplaced affections, contentment with life as it is, minimizing the value of personal time with God, and a lack of commitment to grow closer to God.

Neglecting devotion to God is perhaps the most subtle way that many people spiritually drift away from God. Lessons from Scripture will show how to renew personal devotion to God to prevent or overcome spiritual drifting.

Chapter 6: A Resounding Gong: Study without Devotion                       25 pages

This chapter will present several compelling conversations and stories to show how theological study divorced from personal devotion to God can be used by Satan to rob us of faith.

Theological study alone can be disastrous to one’s understanding of God’s Word, ability to grapple with tough questions, faith in God, calling and mission in life, and one’s most important relationships.

Theological study divorced from personal devotion to God can produce the most tragic effects. Lessons from Scripture will show how to pursue theological studies and personal devotion to God.

Chapter 7: The Problem of Suffering: Unsolved Mysteries                    20 pages

This chapter will present several compelling conversations and stories to show how the problem of evil and suffering can wound our faith. The problem of evil and suffering is raised by the death of a friend or loved one, a horrible accident, acts of terrorism and war, natural disasters, famine, and other tragedies.

It is the most difficult theological and philosophical problem humanity faces, yet is inadequately addressed by various philosophies and world religions.

It is best answered by affirming what the Bible teaches. Scripture itself will show how the problem of evil and suffering can either drive us closer to God or further away from Him.

Chapter 8: “Why Me?”: Crushing Circumstances                                   20 pages

Difficult life circumstances can rob us of faith, coming in the form of prolonged family problems, chronic physical ailments, and unrelenting or cyclical depression. This chapter will show how difficult challenges have prompted many famous individuals to drift away from God.

Lessons from Scripture will explain how to thrive despite chronic difficulties to prevent or overcome walking away from the faith.

Chapter 9: Anything Goes: Moral Relativism                                          15 pages

The author will present several compelling conversations and stories to show how growing moral relativism can rob us of faith. Moral relativism is eroding our understanding of who God is, our appreciation for God’s Word, and our commitment to the church. We will show how moral relativism causes many Christians to think, “If this doesn’t work, I can always walk away,” and why this is so harmful to individuals.

Lessons from Scripture will show how, by confessing specific sins, to regain moral ground to prevent or overcome spiritual drifting.

Epilogue: To the Rescue: Helping Those Who Are Drifting                   10 pages

This last section will present several compelling conversations and stories to show how readers can help friends who are spiritually drifting away. The author will give nearly a dozen principles on helping a friend including: being unshockable, asking lots of questions, identifying your friend’s key concerns, enlisting the help of another friend, agreeing on clear-cut objectives, reading God’s Word and praying together, and staying in touch no matter what.

Correspondence                        1 page

Acknowledgments                      2 pages

About the Author                       2 pages

Recommended Resources          2 pages


Two sample chapters follow on pp. 11 to ____.


Think about the back cover copy of a good book. Try to describe in a few words the essence and “hooks” that will convey your book’s content in the best possible way. Here is a sample of a book that landed a publisher:
(Working Title: The Wooing of Jane Grey)
Jane Grey’s life was fine. 
Fabulous career: check. Faithful friend: check. Serving in the church nursery: check. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
And yet… Jane had promised herself she’d never let life become predictable. Now she finds herself thirty-something, feeling a bit lumpy, lonely and lost. A nagging pit in her stomach tells her she desperately needs a change. 
Proving He has a sense of humor, the Lord deposits not one, but two handsome suitors into Jane’s life – seemingly overnight!  Practical Paul Wade, a successful attorney,
seems Jane’s perfect match … on paper. Meanwhile, pro hockey hunkster Lindy Barrett 
is clearly out of her league … or is he?

To decide, Jane must finally seek out that sweet spot lying somewhere between her head and her heart. Whose woo will win the heart of Jane Grey? God knows, but He’s not telling!

Publishers want to know why you are the right person to write this book.  They also want to know what platform or connections you have or can create to help promote your book. Here is a sample:

(Working Title: Overcoming Doubts and Depression)

Dr. Rhonda Wilson is a licensed psychologist and holds two advanced degrees. She has published articles in magazines as well as a Christian women’s suspense novel she self published. She has served as director of counseling for two large churches. Her husband, David, is a pastor of a large metropolitan church inIndianapolis and a successful author. Dr. Wilson speaks at many conferences and venues where this book could be sold.

She also has a blog called “Healthy Minds, Holy Hearts” with over 20,000 followers.



Here is an example of how to show the scope of your novel so the editor has a good idea of where you are going, how the plot progresses, the conflicts involved in the story and how it ends. Basically, just give a synopsis of the story.
(Working Title: Watercolor Summer)
Kathleen waits in an airport for her flight when she sees a magazine cover that reads,
This starts Kathleen remembering the summer she turned 13 and how that summer changed her life forever:
As the only child of a southern aristocratic father and a bohemian artist mother, Kat feels out-of-place no matter where she is; even in her own family. Her parents’ differences in background, values and interests seem to always put Kat in the middle of a veiled conflict. In her world, everyone appears to have self-serving motives. As a result, Kat becomes angry and withdrawn.
In her thirteenth summer, 1969, Kat is dragged by her mother to yet another artist colony on the beaches of Northwest Florida. There, her feelings of isolation and hopelessness unleash into a selfish rage. Self-pity overwhelms her and she contemplates every escape, including suicide.
Malcolm, a mentally challenged boy, who is living at the artist colony in Florida, tries to befriend Kat, but Malcolm’s very presence annoys her to her core. Malcolm’s caretaker, Jeanette, a simple, but lov-ing woman who runs the artist colony, becomes the bane of Kat’s existence, peppering seemingly every moment with ridiculous country wisdom and humor.
As the summer progresses, Kat finds out that Malcolm’s parents had abandoned him at the colony when he was five years old. This tugs at Kat’s heart a little, but her guard goes back up when it be-comes more and more likely that her parents are going to end their marriage.
At summer’s end, Malcolm becomes ill. It is revealed that Malcolm has a congenital heart defect that must be repaired if he is to live. Just before he is to leave for New Orleans’ Oschner’s Clinic, a storm at sea begins to brew and his surgery is in question. One afternoon, Kat goes for a swim in the gulf and gets caught in the undertow. Malcolm had been following Kat and tries to rescue her. Rescue comes for both Kat and Malcolm, but Malcolm’s weak heart is made weaker by his struggle in the water.
Malcolm is taken to the local hospital where he is in critical condition. Meanwhile, Hurricane Camille is fast approaching the Gulf Coast. Kat, Jeanette, Mary Alice, Chandler remain at the hospital to keep a vigil and to wait out the storm. Malcolm’s heart, however, is too weak. Sadly, he dies.
At Malcolm’s funeral, Kat sees a woman who she suspects is Malcolm’s biological mother. When Kat voices her suspicions to her mother, Chan tells her daughter that she also believes this was Malcolm’s mother. Mary Alice Spaulding fills in the details of the back-story on Malcolm and his abandonment at the colony. She had been in contact with Vera, Malcolm’s mother for several years. Vera, who was finally free from an abusive husband, moved back near the colony so that she could keep watch over her son from a distance. What seemed at first to be a mother’s selfish act, begins to look more like an act of mercy.
As Kathleen and her mother leave the colony at the end of the summer, Kathleen begins to see how her life is starting to make more sense.
The Epilogue is Kathleen on the flight she was about to catch during the Prologue. She reflects on how the “stains” of her life, like watercolor on paper, have come together to paint a beautiful scene that only God could have anticipated and ordained.

(Working Title: The Grace-Filled Divorce)
“Can I find God in the grief of my divorce?” is the unspoken question of clients who come to me to help them navigate a confusing and terrifying experience.  As Christians, we are told that God is in midst of suffering.  Through his incarnation, we understand that God knows the pain that we feel.  He wept at the tomb of his friend, Lazarus. He suffered and died on the cross.  But the grief and suffering that comes with divorce seems to challenge this assumption.  After all, the Bible clearly states, “God hates divorce.”  For many of my clients, the logical extension is that God must hate me.
As a result, grief in divorce is given short shrift, if it is acknowledged at all.  It is as though divorcing individuals do not have the right to grieve, let alone call upon God in the midst of their suffering.  But centuries of Christian writings and contemplative practices attest to the fact that, in the words of John Keats, this life is the “vale of Soul-making”.   Pain and suffering, whatever the cause, can be transmuted into a deeper and richer experience of God.
The words, “I want a divorce”, place people at a crossroads without markers. How the journey proceeds depends on the choice made at this intersection. One road leads to years, maybe even decades, of anger and vitriol, courtroom battles, custody fights, and, potentially, multiple failed marriages.   The other, less traveled path leads toward peace and a deeper, more nuanced spiritual life. What makes the difference between these two responses to divorce?  The willingness to enter into grief and allow it to become a process for spiritual formation.
My book, The Grace Filled Divorce: An Opportunity for Spiritual Formation is written to help readers understand the experience of grief in divorce on both an interpersonal and spiritual level, to transmute the pain of divorce into a transformative experience.  Beginning with a foreword written by pastor and author, Chuck Smith, Jr., this book interweaves the stories of Christians whose emotional, personal and spiritual life was transformed by the experience of grief in divorce, with ancient Christian spiritual practices and psychological insights and techniques that have benefited hundreds of my clients.  In my practice as a Christian psychologist specializing in relational counseling, I have witnessed the extraordinary benefits that come from consciously entering, with God, into the grief of divorce.  Divorce can be the beginning of a new phase in an individual’s spiritual walk; the benefits can bless the lives of others.
Foreword by Chuck Smith, Jr.
Chapter one.  When things fall apart: Laying the Groundwork

Chapter two.  Awakening (Candace’s Story)

Chapter three.  The Importance of Grief
Chapter four.   Becoming Myself (Karen’s Story)
Chapter five.  One divorce, two experiences
Chapter six.  New Beginning (Maureen’s Story)
Chapter seven.  Guilt and Shame: Core Issues

Chapter eight.  Letting Go (Joan’s Story)
Chapter nine.  Lessons from Marriage
Chapter ten.  An Amazing Adventure (Jeanne’s Story)
Chapter eleven. Your Ex-spouse: Your emotional workout partner
Chapter twelve.  Finding Goodness (Melissa’s Story)

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