View Full Version : Has anyone written a book?

11-01-2009, 10:23 PM
Long story short...I started writing an ongoing weekly journal of sorts. Short (almost bloggish) social/family/personal commentary entries. Something that I could envision in book form and would fit nicely in the book section of an Urban Outfitters type store or humorous section of a bookstore.

If I were to make a book out of this, what is the process for trying to get something like this published? Is it similar to screenplays and querying lit managers/agents first? Or do you query publishers?

thanks in advance.


11-01-2009, 11:31 PM
I urge you to join Backspace Writers Forum and start reading. The reply to your questions have filled many books in and of itself! Backspace has it all nicely laid out and there are some lovely, approachable and smart people there (including my sweet self ;) ).

But basically, in the US, you need an agent first, publisher second. Non-fiction is probably a slightly easier sell (now) than fiction - stats are around 70% n-f to fiction. Although that might have shifted some.

I could go on, but start with Backspace. http://www.bksp.org/upload/index.php

Read as much as you can before asking questions though! They have a lot of agents and publishers who drop in on and off, but they too will request you read the forums first.

Good luck.

11-02-2009, 04:49 AM
Thanks Nic!

11-02-2009, 08:18 AM
There are great books out there with detailed info on publishers, small presses (with many of these you can submit directely), agents, magazines etc, such as Writer's Market, that are up-dated every year. My favorite is Guide to Literary Agents. These books include contact info, what the agents are looking for in a writer, what kind of work they represent, how to submit, what percentage they take, all that good stuff. Most bookstores carry them. A lot of agents now accept e-queries and will let you submit a few chapters with your queries. The query for a novel is usually longer than for a screenplay, i.e. not just one line but a short synopsis.

A great free resource is www.publishersmarketplace.com, a website and newsletter with industry news, sales etc., that has a list of members (agents, publishers etc.) you can browse for free. Members have pages where they list their creds, the way to submit to them and so on. If you choose the paid version, you have access to all the sales and other useful info you don't get just from the free version. But even the free version is very useful. Writers can also pay to post their books for sale on the front page, which is read by hundreds of industry people. Years ago I posted a synopsis for a novel, and I received a response from the company that does the Harry Potter Films about buying the screen rights to my book. Unfortunately I pretty much blew that opportunity and never heard from them again...

Good luck.

11-02-2009, 03:14 PM
Also, a LOT of agents have their submissions process online.

The standard recommendation is to find books of a similar tone, style, subject, read the Acknowledgements to see who their agent is, and then hunt down the agent's website. You'll get several names that way - and can start thinking about who to target.

You will need to write a book proposal, too. There's a great thread on that at Backspace. (Yes, I'm pushing it. It's fast becoming THE writing forum on the internet. I'm a proud original member - who does nothing except wax on about its merits!)

Unlike Fiction, you won't have to write the whole book upfront, but you will need a detailed outline, some excellent sample chapters and some other business bits and pieces. Check out the Book Proposal thread for Non-fiction. Also, Jeff Kleinman, who is a regular at BS, has a great page on his agency's website which details exactly what they're looking for. (Folio Agency.) He's also an incredibly accessible, smart and generous bloke who offers brilliant advice and, as you will see, has picked up several writers from BS alone.

More importantly, do LOTS of research. Even though the money for writing books is comparatively crap compared to screenwriting, there are just as many book writers trying to break in as there are screenwriters. Perhaps even more! So you have your work cut out for you.

Good luck!

11-02-2009, 03:17 PM
wow..thanks guys. good stuff. I have a lot of lurking to do on backspace. :-)

Jake Schuster
11-02-2009, 06:49 PM
I'm unofficially off of DoneDeal, but came back in to answer a PM, and saw this thread. And if I may, without being attacked from all sides, here's my two cents (or tuppence, if you like).

Yes, I've published a handful of novels with legit NY and London (and Japanese, in the near future) publishers. The problem with your pitch is that a collection of journal entries doesn't make a book, I'm afraid.

The publishing business is incredibly competitive, and publishers are growing ever more cautious. They're either looking for novels or solid nonfiction books with an audience that's more or less built-in. Memoirs and diaries have now lost their sheen, and publishers are shying away from them.

To publish a book that would be stocked in a retail outlet, such as Starbucks, requires, first, a legitimate publisher to bring it out, and, second, an agreement between the publisher and the retail outlet to stock and display them. That tends to happen only with major names, I'm afraid.

As to whom you query, few major publishers look at anything that's not repped by a legitimate literary agent. So agents are the people you need to be querying. Buy Steve Herman's 2009 guide to editors and agents and see what each agent is looking for. It's an incredibly accurate guide and should be very helpful to you.

And now I'm out of DD once again. If you want to contact me directly, please feel free to PM me.

11-04-2009, 08:12 PM
I've been working on a novel for years -- seems like another way to get rejected by the industry. I mean -- make it.

I use http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/

Kind of like this place -- different levels of skills. Lots of info.

11-11-2009, 09:16 PM
My first two novels went around with different agents and didn't sell. What would have been my third novel morphed into my second screenplay. Several scripts later, I've finally finished another novel and am looking for a new rep. Have another in progress.

I'm a Backspace member (you can try it out free for a week ), and am glad to be reminded of Absolutewrite. QueryTracker.net and what used to be LitMatch (now www.authoradvance.com) are great resources for agent research. (I think the agent guide Jake mentioned is Jeff Herman's.) Book agents, by the way, now take 15%.

These days book agents talk a lot about the need for a writer, especially of nonfiction, to have a "platform." For a blog or online journal (if yours is online), that means heavy traffic and many followers.

If it's not online (or even if it is) , you might test the waters by submitting some entries to online or print pubs (Poets and Writers lists many of both). Agents like publication credits.

Your journal could make a book if it's uniquely wonderful, but the proliferation of blogs will likely make it a tougher sell than it might have been a few years ago. And you might need to write the whole thing first.

Good luck!