We are thrilled that Nicole Brodeur mentioned The Business of Books and our upcoming retreat in her Sunday column. If you have a book idea but don’t know how to get published, come to our January publishing retreat at Willows Lodge. Read the article here.
Category Archives: Publishing News
The Business of Books’ Publishing Toolkit made its debut last year to rave reviews. Chock-full of information on researching your idea, developing the key sections of a proposal, honing your submission list, sending out your proposal, and navigating contracts and the business of publishing, the Toolkit is a resource that can stand in for us and keep you focused and inspired. As one attendee said, “The toolkit has been extremely informative and helpful. It is an anchor that I’ll refer to again and again.”
We’re excited to share this material with other burgeoning authors, namely you. The Publishing Toolkit is $99 plus shipping. This binder provides 100+ pages of insider information and includes worksheets and two actual proposals (rarely seen outside of publishing circles) to guide you on your path to publication. Click here to purchase the Publishing Toolkit through PayPal, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions. Write on!
We’ve long been Nancy Pearl superfans. Really, who isn’t? So we were tickled pink to sit down with this charming lady on Book Lust to talk about some of the significant changes in the publishing world, as well as the current challenges for writers looking to get published. Check out the half-hour show here.
Yes, writers conferences.
We love attending conferences, workshops, retreats and residencies. And this year, we’re thrilled to be teaching at a couple. From July 25-27, find us at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference, where we’ll be sharing “What Every Publisher Wants You to Know: Selling Your Book in Today’s Marketplace.” Come October 25-28, we will be teaching, consulting, and rubbing elbows with writers at the Whidbey Island Writers Conference throughout the three-day event. We love Whidbey (particulary Toby’s Tavern) and we love writers, so you can only imagine how excited we are.
Write-o-Rama is another favorite event to get the creative juices flowing and inspiration striking. Twice a year, Hugo House hosts this day of micro-workshops so you can jump from room to room and writing prompt to writing prompt every hour. The summer Write-o-Rama is scheduled for June 22. The low ticket price goes entirely to support Hugo House (instructors donate their time) so you can feel even better about yourself.
Those are just a few of the many conferences and literary events happening around the Pacific Northwest over the next months. If you find it difficult to focus on your writing during the dog days of summer (or are distracted by that strange shining orb in the sky), events like these are fantastic ways to get re-inspired. Not only will you have constant epiphanies about your writing and pick up useful writing tools and techniques, you’ll meet other kick-ass writers. The energy at these events is always super-charged and you’ll leave completely inspired and jazzed and eager to get back to writing.
The Association of Writers and Writers Programs has a searchable database for conferences and writing centers worldwide.
What conferences have you found useful? Which would you love to go to?
How do you physically envision your book? Do you see your novel as a jacketed 6×9-inch hardcover with a $24.95 price point? Are you writing a romance that you can see as a mass market paperback that someone can tuck in their purse or read on the beach? Or do you visualize something more fancy and eye-catching? Maybe a lenticular cover that flips between two images? Or a cookbook that comes in a recipe box?
We both worked for publishing houses (Chronicle Books and Running Press) where format was always up for discussion in acquisition meetings. Our publishing companies specialized in gift products, where a compelling package can be the deciding factor in a customer wanting to hug it and pet it and call it their own.
When it comes to your book project, we want to challenge you to think outside the box, or spine, as the case may be. If all the books on your subject are weighty, does a more portable, pocket-sized book make sense? Could you offer a unique material or special feature, like a waterproof fly-fishing guide or scalloped edges on a pretty gift book?
Different formats and/or bells and whistles to consider when developing your book proposal:
- Paperback vs. hardcover
- Dust jacket, belly band (a paper band that encircles the book, usually containing sell copy), or fold-out flaps
- Pocket-sized or smaller
- Wire binding (so the book lays flat)
- Larger type (for easier reading)
- Water-resistant pages
- Box or kit
- Book-plus (meaning is it a book plus something, like a toy)
- Die-cut trim (so book is a special shape, such as round)
- Special textures on pages (such as fuzzy or scratch and sniff)
- Pocket or envelope built into cover
- Special charm on a hangtag (a ribbon bookmark)
Thinking about how you can make your book’s format special or unique can help catch a publisher or agent’s eye, demonstrates that you’re a creative thinker, and may just be the thing that sets your book apart from the rest of the titles in your subject area.
When you compile your submission list, take time to dive into each publisher’s catalog. Do they have a pre-existing format into which your book would fit beautifully? Mention this in your proposal, as publishers already have pinned down the sourcing and pricing on these special specifications and will be able to assess your project with real numbers and real interest.
Taking the extra time to think of how your book looks, as well as what it says, may be just the thing that lands you a book deal and drives sales.
“How do I find the right publisher?” We get this a lot. Publishing often can seem like a mystery, and one of the biggest sources of confusion for an aspiring author is figuring out to which publishing house to submit. Here, in our experience, are some tips to determining where your book might find a happy home.
1. Go to the bookstore. Yes, an actual brick-and-mortar bookstore. You could also hit up the library. Describe your book to the staff and ask for books that might be considered similar to yours, in topic, voice, concept, or physical format. Look at the shelves and find the best competing titles. Now, look at the spine, title page or copyright page and note the publisher. If there is more than one book by the same publishing house, asterisk that name.
2. Look at acknowledgments page. While you’re perusing the competition, look at the acknowledgments page (like the one at right, from Deepak Chopra’s The Soul of Leadership). This is our Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys tip. Unless the author had a falling out during the editing process, both the agent and editor will be named. Write those down, as this will further assist you in sending out targeted submissions.
3. Subscribe to industry newsletters. Publishers Lunch is a daily e-newsletter put out by Publisher’s Marketplace. For a small monthly fee, you can subscribe to it and search for recent book deals by key words, publisher, author or agent. We recommend signing up for a month and doing some targeted research to further refine your submission list. Shelf Awareness is a free e-newsletter that offers similar information but doesn’t have a robust search engine.
4. Look at submission guidelines. Now that you have your short list, finish up your research by going to each publisher’s website. Review their submission guidelines and see if they take unsolicited submissions. While you’re there, also look at their recently published books and mission statement. Does it jibe with your book? If a publisher does not take unagented submissions, all is not lost. Reviews agents (gathered during steps 2 & 3) in the same manner. Check out their submission guidelines and consider submitting your proposal to them.
Regardless of where you submit, however, you will need a solid proposal to secure a book deal or representation. For more information on the book proposal process, register for our Feb. 9 workshop in Seattle or purchase our Publishing Toolkit. Write on!
With all the recent changes in publishing, there’s been increased moaning about how hard it is to score a book deal—especially as a fiction writer without an author platform. We agree; it’s not easy. You need talent, a great book proposal (natch), perseverance, and also the luck to land on the right desk at the right time. But there’s something else that is often overlooked, something that can help your chances of being noticed and signed by an agent or publisher: publication in a literary magazine.
Sure, The New Yorker and Harpers publish short stories, mostly from established writers (though that shouldn’t stop you from trying). But what we’re talking about here are the many well-respected literary mags that pride themselves on showcasing short fiction from all sorts of writers, magazines like Glimmer Train, Chicago Review, Ploughshares, Zoetrope, Tinhouse, and Zyzzyva. McSweeney’s Quarterly trumpets the lovely philosophy that they’re “committed to publishing exciting fiction regardless of pedigree.” There are many more to choose from, including a wealth of regional options, from The Seattle Review to the South Dakota Review.
Yes, most literary magazines are small in circulation and have little (if any) money to pay you. But publication in one ups your literary cred significantly. Remember, these mags are used as scouting grounds for young, hungry agents and editors looking to make their mark. Think about it: You’re new at an agency or publishing house, and you dream of discovering an unknown writer and signing him or her to a book contract before anyone else does. Where’s a good place to look? The pages of these magazines.
So even if you’re knee-deep in your novel, consider whether you have a short story that you can polish to a high shine and start shopping around. If you’re able to get it published, you just might get a call from an agent trying to pitch you, rather than the other way around.
Jen was sitting in a theater last week, watching Raiders of the Lost Ark and marveling at how perfect it was, soup to nuts (and no, she didn’t travel in a Delorean back to 1981). Then she started thinking about the title and realized it was pretty spot-on as well. Not only did it evoke adventure and a certain disregard for the rules, it really does a great job at describing WHAT the movie’s about.
When we go about titling our book projects, we might focus on either something that’s going to be sexy or intriguing, OR descriptive and literal.
Guess what? It’s important to consider both.
Most nonfiction books also have a subtitle, and possibly an additional “reading line”—an extra line on the cover that specifically conveys a promise to the reader. When beginning to ponder your title/subtitle, there are several things to keep in mind: It should be intriguing, of course, but—particularly if it’s nonfiction—it also needs to clearly convey the book’s concept and be easily searchable for those shopping online.
Keep these considerations in mind as you work on your title:
- Your title should deliver the promise of your book (Body for Life, Good Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office), but be careful to choose a title that the book will actually deliver on.
- Consider using numbers as a take-away for reader, in either title or subtitle: Thin Thighs in 30 Days!, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
- Don’t discount the importance of a subtitle or additional reading line. It can elaborate and offer more of the book’s promise, allowing you to use a shorter, snappier title (Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food, Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses)
- Think about online searches when titling your book (Jen’s book, It’s All Relative, became Beyond the Family Tree: A 21st-Century Guide to Exploring Your Roots and Creating Connections to cross paths with consumers looking for genealogy books who might type “family tree” into a search engine).
Still think titles aren’t that big of a deal? Well, imagine if these bestsellers had been titled differently:
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Using Traditional Chinese Parenting Techniques to Raise a Successful Child
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Men Who Hate Women (original Swedish title)
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
The Theory of Memetics in Everyday Life
Learn how to craft a great title, subtitle, and reading line, as well as the 8 other key proposal elements, in our Feb. 9 All-Day Workshop, 30 Days to a Winning Book Proposal.
Exciting news for fall! As you may know, we’ve celebrated several Business of Books success stories over the past few months, and we want YOU to be next. To that end, we’ve created three new 90-minute webinars to help you on your path to publication. These are our most popular talks, available to watch at your leisure and review it as many times as you like for just $79. Here’s what we’ve cooked up at the BoB laboratory:
Webinar 1: “Secrets of a Successful Proposal” is our most comprehensive talk, in which we walk you through the nine essential elements every proposal should have, regardless of genre, and help you break it down into manageable pieces. Even if you’ve taken our classes before, this is a great way to brush up on the essentials and make sure you’ve thought through every section.
Webinar 2: “Sell Your Book—And Yourself” is a deeper dive into the increasingly important author bio and marketing sections of the proposal. We’ll highlight how you can show publishers and agents that you are the right person to write this book, and that you also have smart, savvy ideas for promoting your book and getting it into the hands of the right customers.
Webinar 3: “What Every Publisher Wants You to Know” offers up-to-the-minute dos and don’ts so you can give publishers and agents what they’re looking for…right this minute! This webinar is filled with fresh insights from the 2012 Book Expo America conference and from personal interviews we conducted with a variety of publishing professionals in NYC. You’ll never make a rookie mistake after this class.
In addition to the webinars, if you want us by your side every step of the way, you’ll want our exclusive Publishing Toolkit, a comprehensive binder that takes you through our 30-day plan for creating the best possible proposal. It includes all our information, worksheets, and exercises, plus insider information on book deals and negotiation and even two successful sample proposals from our archives to use as templates. You can keep this on your shelf and use it again and again. Click here to purchase.
We hope these tools will provide you with not only information, but also inspiration and motivation to get that book idea out of your head and onto the shelves. Contact us if you have any questions about what might be right for you!