You know how when people say: “there's a lot more work for you down the line if...,” or “I know a lot of people who can help you if...,” you immediately think RUN!? In Book World, invoking the Oprah is the same thing. Nine out of ten pitches and authors invoke the Oprah (as in, “I know that I can get on Oprah with this”) and that is just a big red flag which makes us think oh-no-she-he-didn't. We love Oprah and what she has done for Book World but it just isn't going to happen, and if it does, we will bake you a cake. Anyhow, please avoid the temptation to mention her in your proposal or any conversation involving your book project. It's absence will be noted and make you look better. No, really.
Pick a style guide and stick to it--reference books like Words into Type, The Chicago Manual of Style, etc. Refer to it for stuff like series commas, capitalizations, abbreviations. Consistency is what you are after and you might as well start at the beginning of the process.
I also highly recommend keeping a list (handwritten or spreadsheet) of words you use over and over which may have different variations--names, cities, companies--then you can refer to it so that it is always used consistently. Confirm spellings of names at the start, refer to your list, and make sure to double-check yourself. I was just reading an essay and a recurring name was mispelled right in the middle of the piece--readers notice stuff like that, and you shouldn't rely on an editor/proofreader to catch everything.
I just take a pad of paper and put a letter at the top of each page, all “A” words and names get written on the “A” page. It's not fancy but it works.
A full-on book proposal is a lot of work. It used to be a necessity for finding a publisher or agent. It would include information such as an outline for your book, a sample chapter, research on similar books, who do you think your audience is, why would they be interested in this book, your resume and credentials for writing it, what format you think it should take and why, even cover art suggestions, and how you plan on supporting and publicizing it.
I've heard of books being sold on a one-sentence pitch over coffee. But then again, the full-on book proposal is a really valuable exercise for your book, no matter what. Because...it will help you to work out the project, your motivation, who you're hoping to reach with it, and how committed you are to it. It's a lot of work but if you're not willing to invest your time in it to vet your idea, it's better to discover it early because making a book takes an incredible amount of time and commitment.
I hear this all the time. Heck, I think this all the time. But for me, it mostly vaporizes. For you, perhaps it keeps re-surfacing. Do you want to pursue your idea? Here's a couple of suggestions to start. This might seem like “duh” but it's really not.
• Write it down. A one-sentence description.
• Research it. Has someone else done a similar book? Is there room for another?
• If you keep thinking about it, make an outline.
• Keep thinking about your book project and refine your outline. The more you refine it, the better it should get.
• Try not to talk about it too much at the beginning. Work it out in your own head before you tell anyone because people are going to want to contribute their own suggestions.