Writers working on a subject-led non-fiction project (as opposed to a manuscript that's narrative-led, such as a memoir or biography), should expect to provide a chapter outline alongside a sample section of their manuscript.
A chapter outline enables the agent/editor looking at your writing to consider it within the overall context and structure of your book. It also presents an opportunity for a writer to assure prospective agents and/or publishers of the market demand for the book, and of their credentials (someone with a unique or authoritative voice on the topic covered in their book). As a result, this document should be considered to be of equal (if not greater) importance to a non-narrative non-fiction proposal's chances of success than the sample section of writing itself.
A chapter outline should:.
- Provide a brief outline of what's covered in each section of your book
- Be easy to follow, with key information relayed in the same order as it is in the manuscript itself
A chapter outline shouldn't:
- Exceed five pages of single-spaced A4 paper
- Include statistics, data or graphs unless they are the absolute focus of a chapter