Getting a Book Published & Avoiding the Bear Traps

October 5, 2015 in Articles, Writing & Publishing

Getting a Book Published is Knowing What Not To Do

getting a book publishedThere are three easy steps to sink your book’s prospects

And there are many more. But let’s be charitable and assume your book is the bee’s knees. It’s beautifully written; readers are lapping up books covering your chosen theme, and you are bringing something new to the table. Publishers and agents will be delighted to hear from you.

If only. The truth is best faced sooner than later. Publishing is a cut-throat business, and one that is seldom as professional as you might imagine. For every intelligent, benevolent adviser assessing drafts from writers there are hundreds of low-paid, over-worked staff who all imagine they are God’s gift to literature and view submissions from new writers as fodder to be disposed of in record time. Offer these people the slightest opportunity to reject your work and they’ll take it – before they’ve read a word of the book itself.

Getting a book published therefore requires careful consideration of how to avoid the bear traps!

Getting Published – The Rules

1. Horses for Courses.

Don’t enter your horse for a race it can’t win. Mills and Boon are highly successful, but are unlikely to give your non-fiction survey -‘Sparrows of the Kalahari’ a moment’s thought. The better focused and businesslike publishers are, the more likely they are to know precisely what they will consider or reject. Homework, e-mails and phone calls must identify who are in the market for your future book. You must first know which market you are aiming at (not as easy as it appears) then ensure your draft is aimed at the right target.

2. Leap one hurdle at a time.

The majority of works submitted to publishers are not read. Why? Because the e-mails, letters, proposals and synopses that accompany them reveal the shoddiness of what must surely follow – in the book proper. Why should a publisher overlook woolly descriptions and amateurish summaries of an author’s work? If someone is incapable of describing the merits of their own handiwork why should others find it fruitful? One in a thousand writers may be congenitally incapable of succinctly describing their own masterpiece; no publisher or agent worth his salt can spare the time to burrow through a thousand drafts to find it. Have one objective in mind at this submission stage: to get your book or extracts at least read. Nothing more – nothing less.

3. Be economical with the truth.

A short introductory letter, accompanied by a one page synopsis and a paragraph or two describing the readership you seek to reach should be more than enough to entice a publisher to request/read extracts of your work. The letter is purely a courtesy – simply introduce yourself and your work; the synopsis should reveal the bones of your book so that the reader can instantly appreciate its essence – but don’t flesh out these bones: the extracts will do that. The few paragraphs about your intended readership will indicate to publishers that you understand what their readers wish to read.

You will not receive any Brownie points for length or literary ability; quite the reverse. The more concise, brief and businesslike you are, the more likely the reader will thank you and request sight of extracts. Remember, all you want is someone to taste the book itself, not hand out gongs for writing menus.

A book editing service can help you tune these preparatory stages. The synopsis is the most difficult, and the most important. Writing these is a business skill rather than a literary one and, where authors find it a task too far, look for editors who will do the job for you. An independent, outside view of your work usually ensures your work is read. Then it’s up to the merits of your writing to carry the day.

photo credit: 2009_03_wk3_DSC02865 via photopin (license)

Writing a Book Synopsis for an Agent or Publisher

September 28, 2015 in Articles, Writing & Publishing

A book synopsis is your first tool in the book publishing process. Without a synopsis forget approaching a publisher, they will not want to know you.

What is a Book Synopsis

writing a book synopsisThe business side of book writing is often overlooked by would-be authors. But a business it is, and the moment you contact agents or publishers with a view to writing and publishing a book they will request a synopsis. A synopsis is a summary of your project; no more, no less, but writing a book synopsis is an important step on the traditional publishing route .

Paradoxically, the ideal time to prepare a synopsis is at the ‘back of an envelope’ stage of a book: that moment when the idea for your work first arises. This spark was unadorned and caught your breath at the time. A synopsis should never lose that vital element. The version you eventually send to a publisher will cover more ground and may have changes of emphasis and treatment, but the clarity of the message you send should be preserved.

The ability to write brilliant synopses passes most people by. It requires special skills and a disciplined, calm brain. That rules me out. I still believe, however, that writers should be the author of their synopses.

The Book Synopsis

The synopsis you submit to a literary agent or publisher should do no more than ensure a chapter or three of your book are subsequently read by them.

Include, therefore, only details most likely to make this happen. Anything else is just wasting everyone’s time.

By sticking to the theme and essential elements of your draft, your synopsis should race through the development of your story – leaving the reader informed, but not fulfilled; only the book can do that. If it has, at its heart, a fresh theme, well treated, then once you have conveyed this, your work is done. This really is how to publish a book, by following the publishers’ rules.

Over-egg the synopsis and with each dollop you will be in danger of losing the reader’s attention – or worse.

Some Tips for Writing a Book Synopsis

One page, single-spaced, should do the job (500 words). Two pages is stretching the attention span, unless your subject matter has to be detail- driven. This is often the case with non-fiction. But for fiction, keep it short.

Remember, this is supposed to be a business document, not great literature. Make your essential points in a few short words – then stop.

The synopsis is not the place to sell the book. Stick to unveiling aspects of the book which will prompt the reader to examine your work further.

If this particular chore is an exercise too far, there are independent book editing services that have editors who will write a synopsis for you. Not everyone is a born editor/summariser with an understanding of the business aspects of publishing. If you have confidence in your manuscript it really makes sense to ensure you submit it professionally. A poor or inadequate synopsis will scupper your chances of a deal, often without a word of your book being read. Invest a little time in getting this right, and be one step ahead of the competition.

Creative Writing Ideas and Tips for a Book

September 21, 2015 in Articles, Book Marketing

Is knowing your target audience the key to good book writing. Well it certainly helps, because for a start you tend to include the content your audience is seeking. You meet their needs.

Who is your book for?

Most aspiring writers give this question a lot of thought – after their books are written. This is a shame because the books would have been easier to write and a better read had the authors considered the needs of the reader at the outset.

Creative writing ideasThis applies to works of fiction and non-fiction. Just because your book is entitled ‘A Guide to Slug Clearance’, it’s still not enough to crash ahead producing the definitive work on the subject without thinking through who might need the book, why, and how can the information be best delivered without either upsetting the sensibilities of readers – or boring them to death.

Staying with the above example, let’s assume that the book’s author would like sales to be sufficient to net at least a modest profit.

Readers have needs; this article is aimed at meeting needs. So, what might be the needs of the readers of our slug expert’s book? They could be academics determined to become slug gurus; put aside a few copies, at most; they could be ecologists with the harmony of all living creatures on their mind: put aside another three copies. No – the major market for this book would be readers who have a problem getting rid of the slimy things, because slugs and their close cousins the snail have an appetite for the same food that we humans fancy, and they get there first! Now we are talking bigger numbers. But don’t stop just yet. This is a goodie. I’m now thinking world-wide sales. This book could have dire implications for slugs speaking all the languages under the sun. The bestseller list beckons. But we won’t succeed until we structure the book to provide benefits the reader would appreciate. So creative writing ideas start with identifying your target market and making sure you meet their requirements.

Food growers, allotment holders, and vegetable patch addicts will all know a thing or two about slugs; many will have tried and tested methods to get rid of them. This book must make a case for itself. These readers aren’t going to buy this book simply to empathise with and acknowledge the undoubted excellence of the writer’s brain. They want more. They want this book to give them all the knowledge about slugs so that they can do an even better job of growing their produce in a slug-free environment. They pick up the book, and what do they find? Too often, an ill-focused, poorly thought-through book that exceeds the writer’s wildest expectations because the knowledge and expertise has somehow landed on the printed page, but it leaves the potential reader bemused. ‘What can this book do for me,’ is the unspoken thought in the forefront of buyers’ minds. Tackle these ‘thoughts’ in a logical manner, with the priority issues to the fore, and you’ll win custom; if potential readers have to leaf through (sorry, slugs) to page sixty-six before finding out whether the book covers their particular slug infestation, you’ll not make a sale.

Creative Writing Idea – A profile of your potential readers.

They have a slug problem. They want to remove, deter, assassinate slugs – their slugs – on their patch of earth. They don’t want a 500 page encyclopaedia on slugs or a three-page leaflet on the bite pattern of Argentine slugs, they simply want to see, from the first pages, that this inexpensive book covers the habits, likes and dislikes of the slugs most likely to appear in their garden, and gives straightforward, intelligible advice on methods of removing the menace. These buyers are seeking value for money from a book that needn’t be large or expensive. They don’t need to know much about the author other than to be able to assure themselves that he or she knows what they’re talking about.

Now it should appear evident from the above that I know little or nothing about slugs. But, if you want to sell a book about slugs, you need to research the problem thoroughly, find out what motivates slug haters and then structure your book so that potential buyers can see at a glance that your book is just what they’re looking for. Go to a large bookshop, go online, google, look up Amazon, find out who has already tackled this subject before; pinch the good ideas, reject the bad, then you’ll know that your book is going to be a world-beater. Slugs look out!

Once you have established the pressing requirements and desires of your readers, you can begin to match your knowledge and expertise to them. With the needs of your reader paramount, you no longer have to worry about how to deliver your wisdom to the page; your potential buyers have now told you. The book will already be written to their order rather than yours. Progress has been made.

Jonathan Veale is passionate about books and writing, he is happy to share his knowledge and experience on writing books that sell. If you would like to find more advice from Jonathan, then take a look at his book on How to Write a Book Only 99p in Kindle format.

Writers Coping With Rejection, Do You Know How?

August 3, 2015 in Articles, eBook publishing

Coping with Rejection

It’s an early lesson for most. As children, the playground can be anything but a play area: she loves me – she loves me not; join my team – you must be joking; come off it, fatty – snails run faster.

Coping with rejectionRejection slips from publishers are something else. This time, not only are you being rejected, but so is your creation, your labour of love over months and possibly years. And there’s no comeback – the rejection is final, unexplained and standardised.

I used to think publishers were heartless, until I became one. Within hours I understood why they choose not to correspond with aspiring authors. Life’s too short. There is no kind way of explaining to a mother that her baby is ugly – or badly dressed; neither can the shortcomings of a sloppy manuscript be tackled in a sentence or two without goosing the sensitivities of writers beyond their endurance. So many writers are coping with rejection because they are given no other choice.

How to Avoid the Rejection Slip

But I offer a ray of hope. Most manuscripts are rejected for reasons that will astound you. They fall at hurdles that have everything to do with what editors recognise as alarm signals and storm warnings and little to do with the essence of the piece of writing. Put simply, imagine a row of a dozen tick boxes representing the criteria editors weigh when viewing submitted work, then note that the first nine need to be ticked before the writing itself is assessed.

Independent manuscript appraisals coupled with some coaching to help you both write a book and the covering material that publishers require and are essential for aspiring writers. They will ensure you leap-frog most competitors in the submissions stakes. Only then will the writing itself have to fight its own battle on your behalf. Because it is only then that the writing will have gained access to a detailed assessment and passed through the filter that is designed to distinguish between those that have a half chance of delivering what the publishers want and those that don’t.

If your writing merits publication, give it a fine start in life. Submit it first to a panel of publishers and writers, to people that understand the intricacies of the filter and what it takes to pass noiselessly through to the real appraisal. You will save time and money on pointless submissions and increase your chances of acceptance, and of seeing your work in print. Even if that means further work and a bit more polish on your part.

This is an article from Jonathan Veale author of How to Write a Book or Novel

The Best Ways to Sell Books Online And Elsewhere

January 17, 2015 in Articles, Book Marketing

I came across an article the other day titled The Top Seven Ways to Advertise Your Book and credit where credit is due, it wasn’t a bad list at all for anyone looking for the best ways to sell books online. In a nutshell the information came under the following categories, seven of them, which I would think is what you would expect given the title.

  1. using an email signature line to promote your books every time you send an email
  2. book tour sites, where you take your books on a virtual tour
  3. promotional sites that exist entirely to promote books and are known for that
  4. generic specific promotional sites i.e. sites that promote very specific genres. Presumably genres that are in high demand in their own right
  5. through your own blog and website. There are free ones available as well as ones which you have to pay for, so it can be a cheap option in terms of cash, if not time!
  6. by creating social media profiles and engaging with people interested in your writings
  7. using a newsletter and generating an email  list of people that subscribe to the newsletter
best ways to sell books online

Image courtesy of

Obviously the article goes into these different suggestions with a bit more detail and suggestions, so if the list is in anyway appealing it might be worth having a look at what the suggestions are, bearing in mind some of it is self promoting of sites set up for the purpose of generating advertising revenue, but we do live in a commercial world. Personally I don’t have a problem with that and you never know, you may generate more money than you spend. Only one way to find out unfortunately.

I did think it was quite a good article for anyone thinking about self publishing a book to market over the Internet and there are articles on this site that have taken a similar stance:

So we have talked about the best ways to sell books online, but what about the old ways of working, book publishers, newspaper & magazine articles, straight forward advertising in journals, magazines and the papers. It does beg the question… do these methods still have a place in the modern world?

If you consider that the trick to selling books is visibility i.e. getting the cover in front of as many potential customers as possible, then there are at least two aspects to consider:

  1. produce the book in as many formats as possible, ebooks, hardcopy and audio for example
  2. utilising as many media channels as you can

It is the second of the two that brings us back to how you sell books offline and for this I am going to refer to another article I found discussing advertising via magazines and newspapers. The article asks the question Is newspaper and magazine advertising still a viable option? The conclusion seems to be that it certainly is and it goes on to provide the following 10 tips for advertising in hard copy:

  1. make the headline the advert for the advert. I really like that and to be honest it applies to all types of publishing and advertising, the headline simply has to grab the attention of the reader
  2. where your advert is placed in the publication. You may think this simply refers to it perhaps having to be on the front or back page, but not always the case apparently. Sometimes it pays to be in with the crowd or in this case the section that talks about books, authors and reviews
  3. getting the copy(text) right, again a universal requirement I would say, wherever copy is being being published
  4. key feature, i.e. what your book offers and the reason the customer should buy it
  5. using positive customer reviews, someone else’s recommendation is always better than your own. Especially if it is a happy customer
  6. including a picture, perfect for books and emphasises the need for a professionally designed cover that demonstrates a quality product
  7. use a call to action, tell them what to do and often they will
  8. solve their problem e.g. do you need entertainment on holiday, what about a book that is easy to read and  can be put down and picked up when you have a hour or two to kill
  9. promote your offline presence through your online presence and visa-versa
  10. test and test again, you may not be able to that in real time as there are costs associated with advertising, but you can ask friends, family and colleagues what they think of your advert and use their feedback to help you get it right

So once again another very good article with some great advice and, as before, you can of course get more detail in the article itself by going through the link above.

So what of publishers? A good publisher will be employing all of the techniques discussed here to get their authors that all important visibility, so what is good for the goose tends to be good for the gander.

Of course another way to use newspapers and magazines is to get an article published for free. There are likely to be many editors actively searching for copy for their publications, so with the correct format and written in a way that a professional journalist would write, there is a possibility that publicity can be gained for free or perhaps might even pay. The subject of another post possibly.


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