A few months back, a writer friend brought forward some thoughtful advice after an email group in which we’re both involved had produced some questions. Specifically, the discussion surrounded what to do when we’re approached by other writers seeking insight, and how to balance that out with our own writing needs and constraints.
Since this has been happening more and more recently, I thought now would be a good time to bring Judith’s advice here.
|Author Judith Dupre’|
Judith’s first piece of advice?
“Go a bookstore and look at all books that relate to your own book idea/genre,” she says. “Start a list of publishers who publish books like yours. Make a list of, and read, books that cover similar content.”
She warns writers to “not make the fatal mistake of thinking that it is better to present a book idea that no one else has ever written in the history of civilization,” because it is an immediate turnoff to publishers.
“They want to know that your book is just like the DaVinci Code with a little Jonathan Franzen thrown in for good measure,” Judith says.
Secondly, she says, “Find other writers.” Specifically, join a writing group, attend readings in your area, track writers’ blogs. “Writers know other writers. Immerse yourself in that world and you’ll soon have buddies with whom you can talk shop (agents, editors, publishers, advances, etc).”
The third suggestion: Consider hiring a developmental editor to go through your proposal and point out where it needs to be strengthened.
Fourth and final, for now: “Get an agent.” Start by reading book acknowledgments in books similar to yours. “Invariably, authors thank their agents. Make your initial agent contact list from this data,” Judith says, strongly encouraging the agent route.
For nonfiction, she adds that “in order to attract an agent, you’ll need to develop a one-page succinct book description, a 2-5-page proposal and at least one sample chapter, possibly more.”
My words: By now, you’re realizing (if you don’t know it already) that birthing a book is no small task, and takes a great deal of perseverance and belief in the work you want to bring to light. But I can attest to the fact that when you’ve moved through the process to the point of seeing your book in print, and when you hear from others whose lives have been bettered because of it, you’ll know it’s been worth the trouble.
For more good stuff from Judith, visit her website.