Book Writers Should Beware Publishers and Literary Agencies Seeking New Writers
Why? Because, if you are planning to write and publish a book, they may have a cunning plan to empty your wallet. And before the writs arrive, I must draw a line between traditional publishers and agencies who occasionally take on new writers, take the risk of publishing on their own shoulders, and never seek funds from writers . . . and those who do! Professional publishers and agencies are inundated with manuscripts and rarely solicit for manuscripts. They have more in their in-trays than they can handle as it is.
The moment a publisher or agent suggests you bear any of the costs associated with bringing your book to market, step aside, and reflect: ‘Am I interested in self publishing my book? (for that’s precisely what you would be involved in) and, if the answer is yes, are these people offering me the most economical route so to do? Invariably the answer will be – not on your life!
Contact a professional book editing service and let them outline the options open to you for self publishing your book. There are many, and nowadays the costs have fallen dramatically which means book writers can self publish at a very reasonable cost and have no need to pay the exorbitant prices some of these organisations try and elicit.
The Route to Publishing a Book
The traditional publishing route, with or without a literary agent, is the prudent route all writers should pursue initially, unless their objective has at all times been one that excludes any possibility or wish to see the book as a commercial product. ‘My Twenty Years of Bad Hands’, a graphic account of skulduggery at a local Bridge club is not going to woo them at Random House, but ‘Revelations of an International Hooker’ may well raise eyebrows, and offers to meet, soon!
Publishers and literary agents who advertise for new writers may only have one thing in mind: to take you to the stage where you start spending money, and they start making it. And their approach is simple. They pay little if any regard to the intrinsic merit of the work you submit. It will always be viewed favourably. They will like it. They will praise it. They often get quite enthusiastic! Goodness me. It could be even better, if you tidied it up a bit and, would you believe, they know just who can help, at a price.
As a writer, your role is to produce the draft of a book that’s ‘as good it gets’: properly structured, well written, beautifully punctuated, and laid out in format acceptable to submission editors. That done, and assuming you have had a market in your mind for this offering from an early date, you now need to show it to the trade, explaining, in a short letter, who you are, what you are offering, and why you think they might like it. You should also prepare a synopsis – a businesslike document that will enable the reader to see at a glance or two whether your book has possible appeal.
Seek a Helping Hand
But the above work is easier said than done. Personally, I find most writers are so close to their own work that they have great difficulty in making this initial approach. My advice. Take advice. Seek a disinterested opinion from experienced book editors. They will save you time and money, and mark your card as to what works and what doesn’t in your material. Then you can make whatever adjustments to your book and submission material they suggest, knowing that you have then given your book its best chance of making an impact with publishers, and even getting a deal from them. Good luck.
This is an article by Jonathan Veale who is the author of the popular novel The Carcassonne Affair and the very useful How to Write a Book or Novel, an insiders guide to getting published from a man who has been there and done it.