I know very little about book publishing…infact I’d go as far as to say I probably could tell you more about subatomic particles than I could about getting a book in a high street store. However, for anyone who has ever dreamt of getting a book published (that includes me), I’d really like to share my personal experience with you, whether good or bad, as it evolves, so we can learn together.
A brief re-cap of the longest 5 weeks of my life… so far
- Received a chatty e-mail from a major publishing house in New York through my blog via an article by local writer, Stephany Aulenback in The Awl
- Ignored major publishing house in New York for a while, thinking someone was having a laugh
- Googled major publishing house and it’s representative to make sure e-mail was not from some sadistic nerd who hated 1940s food and WordPress blogs
- Responded to major publishing house’s e-mail pleasantly and inquisitively
- Waited a few days then developed a rather worrying case of checking-my-e-mail-every-10-minutes for an additional 2.5 days until I heard back from major publishing house
- Came over all dizzy and lost the power of speech momentarily when they still appeared to be interested.
- Several e-mails back and forth with publishing house who were quite amazing answering my questions and explaining a little about the book publishing process
- Publishing house sent a helpful list of what they would expect as a proposal for a non-fiction book
- Publishing house said I would need to find a literary agent to represent my project and said they could put me in touch with some agents that maybe interested
- Publishing house e-mailed me back today and had been discussing my project with a literary agent over “Organic salad” at lunch (oh yes!).
- Literary agent will be in contact….
I’ll be truthful with you… I’m excited but wobbly and seriously doubting whether I can control my bodily fluids..
Of course this is merely the beginning, there are no guarantees and it’s going to be very hard work pulling together quite a large non-fiction book incorporating many components of the blog such as weight loss memoirs, 1940s recipes, nostalgic facts, and glueing it all together with something special..the magic fairy dust. I’ve given it lots of thought and I have a vision and now it’s time to put something together, a proposal, to sell this idea of mine….
Writing a proposal for a non-fiction book
It seems many publishers do indeed spend quite some time on the World Wide Web, watching blogs and reading articles to see what is happening on our little planet worth writing about. That’s rather comforting in a way… There are many people out there who love writing about their passions on blogging platforms, but most of us lack the confidence to go ahead and try publishing a book. We just don’t think anyone would find us or what we write about interesting enough. So when a publishing house expresses an interest in your blog and plants a little seed, asking you whether you have ever considered writing a book and holds your hand through the initial stages, it is enough to finally tip the psychological scale…… you finally think OK I’m going to do it!
In this time of the internet and social media, having an established presence in these areas definitely helps…or so it seems, reading between the lines of the proposal guidelines below from the publishing house
Hope this helps you too!
a) What would your suggestion be to me for starting to put things together? What would you like to see from me in the near future (i.e. a plan, a first chapter?)
Usually for nonfiction books, we like to see a proposal. A proposal consists of a number of things, including:
– A description of what you would like your book to be, including a detailed outline (does not have to be bulleted or numbered, but a heading and a paragraph or two would be nice) as well as a first chapter or sample of your writing
– A list of comparable titles (as well as their publisher and what year they were published), what they are, what they’re about, and how your book would differ and/or cater to the same audience)
– Some stats about your “platform”. In publishing, your platform is essentially a CV of why you’re qualified to write a book on this subject, and these days, it includes things like your online reach (website and social media stats, as well as some examples of writing, or other places where you are known to be an “expert”)
b) In what format do you require submission in?
PDF or .doc, but .doc is preferred.
c) What sort of time scales do you work to?
At this juncture I do not have any—I would like to see a proposal first and see where to go from there. I do not want to rush you, and would rather see a well thought out proposal rather than something submitted to be because you have an arbitrary deadline.
d) Where do we go from here?
At this point, I think you should start looking for representation for your project. We deal with literary agents 90% of the time, and I think it is in your best interest to find someone who understands your vision for what you want to write, can help you best execute a proposal, and can explain to you the ins and outs of publishing. I have a few agents I know who might be interested in a project like yours, and if you would like, I can make an introduction. Please bear in mind that an agent works in his/her author’s best interest, and that money always flows to the author. If an agent charges you money for representation (or indeed for anything other than the 15% of sales/royalties that s/he is due—due AFTER a sale), then s/he is not a reputable agent.
Articles I’ve found on “Blog to Book Deals”
It’s the first time I’ve googled “blog to book” and it seems there is hope for all us bloggers out there. Here are some of the articles I am finding on the web that have appeared in newspapers, magazines and for web only.. keep on blogging about your passion!
How my blog landed me a book deal (this is my favourite- its practical and useful)