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Writing and publishing a book' guidance for young and prospective writers

Writing and publishing a book in the era of advanced electronic technologies. How to prepare and accomplish your book and be published without a fuss

Writing and publishing a book: the editorial department

Nowadays, publishers belong to large international groups and account for almost 90% of published materials. For instance, an average publisher of Spain, Mexico, Argentina receives more than 1,000 manuscripts or proposals per year (about four per working day). They are sent spontaneously by writers (mostly unknown to the publisher), as well as by foreign publishers and literary agencies worldwide. Of those 1,000 manuscripts, the publisher selects about 20, since the rest of the titles published are works that publishers have commissioned, some works are connected with hiring the main house, or, alternatively, some are works of authors who have already published in the house. Therefore, the possibility of becoming published by simply sending a manuscript is as low as chances to win a lottery. It is true that someone always wins, but in general, the time commitment, cost, efforts and frustration are presented in an inadequate proportion. Until a few years ago, when a writer sent a manuscript, publishers would respond with a letter acknowledging the receipt and in a couple of months they would send another letter saying in a more or less friendly way that it was not possible to publish the author's work. It was in 1990 when one of the largest and most prestigious publishing houses in the United States named Doubleday decided to no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts no matter whether they come from literary agents or their authors. At that time Doubleday was receiving 10,000 of manuscripts per year, which means more than 40 manuscripts daily. How many people in publishing business need to receive, sort, review, read and return more than 40 manuscripts per day? Actually, quite a few, but no company is willing to face it - and not just those in the United States. You should think, thereby, how to increase those chances and better the effort-result ratio.

Really, what do you need to do to be published? Many literary agents are constantly listening to writers telling about their difficulties with getting published. Very many writers, after many failed attempts, begin to be disappointed in what they write, without even thinking if that fail could not be hidden in the way they use to approach publishing. Publishers reject a vast majority of manuscripts almost always without looking at them. This is due to a huge amount that passes through their hands every day without authors having taken pains to prepare information to present his or her work or project – most authors do not even know there is a synthetic and simple way to facilitate the possibility of an editor's positive resolution. In the United States, unsolicited manuscripts are not even returned to the sender, if an envelope does not include postage. Such sent items pile up relentlessly until they turn into a pile of garbage (a slush pile). Most writers of Latin American countries know how to contact an editor or a literary agent conveniently. There is no justification for that kind of ignorance. If you search the Internet and type in, for example, the phrase “resources for writers”, the search engine Altavista offers 32,699 web pages for such inquiry. Argentines tend to be especially contemptuous of this type of literature called "practical guide" or "help yourself books", which prevents those people from recognizing that in this case, at least, there is an abundance of information and experience that could change the future for a writer who wants to be published. It also could be found incomprehensible that someone who believes in writing, in books and words, do not make the effort to investigate how to help yourself with publishing them – especially when you are finishing the work to which you has devoted months and years sacrificing both personal and family needs. This effort is minimal compared to the work of writing a book, whether fiction or nonfiction, yet few writers are ready to do it. Any editor can testify that for every well-prepared presentation he or she receives 100 or 200 manuscripts coming along with a simple note pleading to be read and published.

Writing and publishing a book: the most effective search of an editor

The rule is unbelievably simple: if you want to publish, never send a manuscript. There are standard procedures in the international world of publishing for submitting a proposal to a publisher (like to find a literary agency). The important thing is to do well, to get results. The level of research required is low, especially for those who have made enormous efforts to write a book. Knowing what publishers like about your subject, what is the name of the publisher or editor who are in charge of a specific collection, finding the current address, the email address of a publisher or literary agent, is now quite simple things thanks to the Internet. There are sites specializing in "resources for writers" who offer this information. The corresponding literature is full of tips, many of which are extremely useful for saving time and avoiding a great deal of troubles. Henry Dunow, who was working as a literary agent for twelve years in the New Cork Ober Agency, specified that the agents who worked there had received a dozen proposals per day. He personally only paid attention to the title of a sent paper and what came along with the paper. Letters that arrived addressed to "Dear Mr. Ober," the founder of the agency who died fifty years ago, ended up not opened in the pile of garbage. Undoubtedly, such attitude clearly indicates the reluctance of that who sends the paper to take even the minimal research work. The proposal or the editorial proposal (proposal editorial in the international world of publishing) are names given to what a writer sends to the editor with an eye to possibly interesting him in the manuscript or project. A proposal consists of a series of key facts about the author, the work and the audience, which it is directed to; proposals should not include too many pages and their production usually is no challenge for a person who was able to write an entire book.

The presentation, which is submitted to a publisher, consists of two parts: the letter and the editorial proposal. The letter is a written submission of one page maximum, which is presented to you and your book (or project), and in which you ask the agent or editor if they are interested in receiving a wider proposal. Such letter saves a lot of time, frustration and money. If your agent or publisher has not responded to it, you will save yourself from making a complete copy of the manuscript, which would not even receive attention. The main challenge is how to attract the attention of publishers who are overworked, understaffed and receive a lot of proposals besides their own work. While there is no recipe that would guarantee success, experience shows what should be done and what not. Lori Perkins, a successful agent in New Cork, makes some very specific suggestions for writing a cover letter, namely:

  • * Never send a cover letter larger than one page. 250 words must be sufficient to introduce yourself and your book. Some publishers never sent a letter to an editor of more than one page having sold over 2,000 books.
  • * Look for a clear and simple first impression. Jot down the essentials.
  • * Do not send handwritten letters that make reading difficult. Write with a readable font, font size 10 to 12, nor less nor more, without frills or colors. They are all amateur gestures that will not impress any editor.
  • * Do not try to be original or funny, unless you are offering a book of humor, and this is part of your presentation. You are looking for a professional relationship, not an exchange between friends.
  • * Do not tell the editor, whom you barely know how much you respect and admire him or her. Unjustified praise will not help with serious professionals.
  • * Do not forget to add your full contact details: name, address, phone, e-mail and schedules for incoming calls. You would be surprised how big is the number of writers who forget to include their data in the cards.

Writing and publishing a book: other particularities

The letters for works of fiction and nonfiction stay not too far from each other. Usually, the non-fiction should provide more information about the author, since his or her record often strives to achieve definitive recruitment. In a complicated scheme where an agent or author presents a novel to a publisher, after which the publisher presents it to editorial committees and only then the publisher presents it to booksellers, the more concise is the information the better. Peter Rubin, an expert literary agent, says that the best synopsis of a novel is a long sentence because it shows that both the author and the novel are well focused. He adds, also, that if a writer is unable to describe his novel in one sentence, that book is probably missing a lot of work. Joel Regal, a successful agent in New Cork, said that the presentation is vital, if it is not everything. No Dear Agent or Dear Madam. No luxurious papers, endless e-mails, letters' typefaces designed with strange or funny phrases. A writer should know how to catch the reader, either when they write a book or letter.

Writing and publishing a book in the era of advanced electronic technologies. How to prepare and accomplish your book and be published without a fuss

Writing and publishing a book: the editorial department

Nowadays, publishers belong to large international groups and account for almost 90% of published materials.

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100000028
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CREATED ON
June 19, 2016
COMPLETED ON
June 20, 2016
Price
$20
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