I get so many questions about writing and publishing books.
The word on the street is that the announcement of the death of books was premature. Books are doing well, more are being published and new bookstores are opening. I’m working on my 20th book, now.
One reason books wouldn’t die might be that there is a bit of a baby boom – can you imagine reading a bedtime story from a pop-up e-book? Won’t happen. But an even bigger reason is that it seems people want a break from their screens.
Below is some of what I’ve learned over the decades. Other people might have different experiences. To start…
Agent: It used to be that you could not get to a publisher without an agent, and it was hard to get an agent. These days, not every publisher demands working with an agent. A few refuse to. Having an agent is nearly always good, however. Agents may take 15%, but they will almost always get at least 15% more money than an author could, alone.
Author?: With illustrated books, at least in the past, there was often an author, a writer and a photographer. For example, the best-selling design and cookbook authors do not write their own books and are not expected to. They produce the books and hire the writer and photographer paying them out of their advance. The way to get a photographer is usually to find a person looking to get a book into their portfolio. These days, you may even have to hire an editor, and for a garden book, a copy editor with knowledge of botanical nomenclature.
Triple duty: It was very unusual for an author to also be the writer and photographer. That’s changed – and I might be a bit responsible for that. Also, today everybody thinks they are a photographer – more’s the pity.
The Proposal: What you need to pitch a book? You need a treatment. Something like: who (will buy this book), what (the book is about), when, where (where is the market), why (do we need this book?), how (you will produce it?). Tell what the book is going to be about. Describe your vision for the look of the book.
For an illustrated book, you should present samples – what used to be “boards,” and now is a pdf comprised of 4 or 5 sample spreads.
A sample chapter would be good. And include a working table of contents. An outline might be worthwhile for you and to include, but at this stage I think a sample table of contents (TC) is just as good.
You can depend on every bit of everything I’ve written, above, to change – from contents, TC, your imagined size of the book – both trim size and number of pages — design and maybe even what the book is about. Try to relax.
Comment, if you like or ask (simple) questions.