I've been a publishing lawyer for 28 years. In the last year I've been asked by three different friends how to gather thoughts to make a proposal to a book publisher for a non-fiction title.
Here's my most recent advice, stripping it back to a checklist of seven tasks.
Your proposal will record why you believe Australian readers would want to read the book. For a publisher to accept that you might be the author:
sketch the characters, settings and themes to help proposal readers follow your message and get a vision of who the readers are
list similar Australian titles and how many have been sold; study the marketing strategy as much as that might be possible for those books
think about the how your book might be best marketed
sketch the book's structure, eg chapter topics
decide if you think the book has photos or an index
provide sample writing, after all you are an unknown quantity as an unpublished author
prepare a full book life cycle timetable, including a completion deadline
I'm here if you want to call to discuss more about publishing, contracts, permissions, exclusivity, non-competition and all that fun legal stuff involved in publishing deals, whether for books, e-books, apps and the list goes on.
For proposals for other situations, use the search functions on our website. Too hard? OK, I've done it for you and listed three links below. There's even more on the website.