Getting Your Book Published For Dummies Cheat Sheet - dummies
Cheat Sheet

Getting Your Book Published For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Getting Your Book Published For Dummies

By Sarah Parsons Zackheim, Adrian Zackheim

Getting your book published is an exciting milestone and one that requires preparation. First, you must write a great query letter or proposal to pique interest from literary agents (who can help sell your book) and editors. You have to explore submission strategies; compose a winning title; and consider adding a CD or DVD or something else of value to help attract readers and buyers. It’s a long list — you’d better get writing!

Submission Strategies for Getting Your Book Published

What’s your plan when it’s time to submit your manuscript to publishers for consideration? Your submission contains great writing — of course. Getting your book published, however, requires a strategy that includes getting on the phone and perhaps a bit of socializing.

These tips can help you map your book submission strategy:

  • Network to meet editors

  • Send your proposal to a well-chosen editor

  • Cold-call a highly recommended editor

  • Send a great query letter to the editor

  • Create a subtle but engaging package for your proposal

  • Use a literary agent

Writing a Great Query Letter for Getting Your Book Published

One of the steps to getting your book published is to write and send query letters to try to get a literary agent or an editor at a publishing house interested enough in your book to sign you as a client, and, hopefully, offer you a nice advance — a sum of money you can use while you actually write the book.

An effective query letter has the following characteristics:

  • Runs one page — never longer

  • Contains no errors — typing, spelling, punctuation, and grammar are all perfect

  • Gets immediately to the point

  • Appears on good quality paper

  • Is upbeat in tone and style

Getting Published? How to Add Value to Your Book

If your book is going to be published (congrats!), offer some added value to amass legions of adoring fans more quickly. Your book’s added value can be as simple as the recommendation of someone famous or one of these other attention-getters:

  • Obtain celebrity endorsements

  • Use a foreword written by a well-known expert or celebrity

  • Associate your book with a recognized brand name

  • Attach a coupon, a CD-ROM, or another product

How to Create a Best-Selling Book Title

You’ll get help from your agent or editor with composing a title that will help sell your book, but for your own knowledge (and when it’s just you trying to find that agent or editor), use the tips in the following list to come up with a title with oomph:

  • Keep it brief

  • Imply a benefit

  • Crystallize a wish

  • Promise fulfillment

  • Create an “aha” for the reader

  • Be provocative

How a Literary Agent Helps Get Your Book Published

A literary agent is one of the first people to enlist in your effort to get your book published. Having a good literary agent — one who has contacts with publishers who publish the type of book you write — goes a long way to giving you a chance to say, “Yes, I’m a published author.” The following list contains some of the ways a literary agent benefits you:

  • Helps shape your proposal

  • Targets the right editor

  • Establishes instant credibility

  • Helps prepare sample materials

  • Uses influence with the publisher

  • Generates excitement among publishers

  • Sets the appropriate price for your work

  • Acts as your advocate throughout

How to Find the Right Editor for Your Book

One of the most important tasks in getting your book published is to find an editor who’s going to get behind your book and help it — and you — make your way in the publishing world. To find an editor who’s a good fit, try these tips:

  • Read acknowledgment pages of books similar to yours — authors often acknowledge their editor’s contribution

  • Scour press coverage of books you admire for the editor’s name

  • Go to writers’ conferences and/or conventions and network

  • Call the company that published a book similar to yours and ask who the editor is

Elements of a Successful Nonfiction Book Proposal

To get your nonfiction book published, put together a strong proposal. Use the proposal to “sell” your book to potential literary agents, editors, and publishers. Make sure your proposal is as polished as possible by including the following:

  • Cover page: Contains the title, author byline, and contact information

  • Proposal contents: Gives an overview of the entire proposal

  • The hook: Offers a brief, tantalizing look at what’s unique about the book

  • The market: Identifies the book’s specific audience and how to reach it

  • About the book: Gives a detailed description of the book including special features and benefits

  • The competition: Shows how your book fills a void in the market

  • About the author: Presents you in the best possible light

  • Table of contents: Is the blueprint of your book

  • Chapter summaries and sample chapter: Highlight important components and showcase your writing

  • Production specifications: Details the length, format, illustrations, and delivery date

  • Promotion and marketing: Outlines a plan for selling your book

  • Attachments: Includes newspaper and magazine clippings on you or your book’s topic