Getting Published or E-published/writing and publishing


Hello. I have been thinking for a few years about writing a non fiction book on the subject of dating advice (for both women and men). How should I start this in terms of writing and getting a publisher's attention. I have considered self publishing but do not want to pay anything out of my own pocket as I can't afford to right now. Any advice would help.

Dear Carly,

Thank you for the question. It's a complex one, and I'll do my best to answer it completely.

First, what are your credentials to dispense dating advice; particularly for men? Are you a professional matchmaker, or is dating advice part of your job?

To get a publisher's attention, you'll need to be an expert in your field. Even expertise isn't enough. You need to be a well-known expert in your field. Publishers today are looking for sure bets when publishing a book. They want authors with either a proven track record of success in writing or a large following that will potentially buy the book when it comes out.

Second, how competitive is the marketplace for dating books? You'll need to do some research. Go to three places to check out the competition: Amazon, a large chain bookstore (Barnes & Noble or Books-a-Million). Look at the titles in the dating arena. Note the size of each book (the number of pages and the trim size) Also note the prices of the books in this genre. While you're doing the research, note the publishers who publish the dating books. Remarkably, you'll note there are only a few publishers that specialize in this genre. Keep a list of these publishers because they are the publishers you will contact first with a book proposal.

This research phase may be enough to get you started for right now.

Please keep some facts in mind about first-time authors being published today. I'm not intending to be a wet blanket about the possibilities, but you should be aware of the odds of success.

As I mentioned before, publishers are looking for sure bets. You'll need to convince a potential publisher that your book will be a financial success for them right away. That means having a large number of potential book buyers already aligned before the book comes out. This can be done by having a large following or by intense marketing efforts prior to the book's launch. If you have a large following, you've already invested time and money to build up that following. If you're going to do intense marketing, that will involve a lot of time and effort on your part, and quite possibly an investment of money, too.

Getting your book proposal (not a manuscript) to a publisher is nearly impossible unless the editor at the publishing house is expecting your proposal. There are gatekeepers that publishers know and trust to present them book called agents. Most likely, you'll have to present your book to an agent who, in turn, will present your book to a publisher. Agents charge 15% for their services. The agent will also insist that you re-write portions of your book to make it more appealing to potential publishers (based on their experience with those publishers).

Once you "sell" your book to a publisher, you will receive two forms of compensation: an advance on royalties and on-going royalties once your book surpasses the advance they already paid you. These days, the advance on royalties for first time authors is low; ranging from $0 to $5,000. On-going royalties are paid slowly (every 4-6 months) if your surpass your advance. Most books never surpass their advance; typically selling fewer than 3,000 copies.

So, you have to decide whether it's worth it to write, marketing and promote a book for an advance of no more than $5,000. Considering a non-fiction book takes over 700 hours to write and edit, on average, that means you earn $7 per hour for your efforts.

Not to sound pessimistic on the subject, there is an option you've overlooked. You could write the book and publish it as an e-book. It is self-publishing. The costs of publishing an e-book are lower. But, the cost to market the book are much higher. You can use Amazon's e-book publishing services to produce the book and make it available on Amazon, but you'll be completely responsible for marketing and promoting the book. Amazon will charge you to prepare the e-book for publishing and take a percentage of each book sale as its fee, but it is an option to consider.

Continued success with your project.  

Getting Published or E-published

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Bill Frank


I help authors become publishers. I'm a self-publishing consultant with resources in editing, graphic design, printing, distribution and marketing. I can help you turn your manuscript into a published book. I identify the best distribution channels for your book. I also help you build a marketing plan to sell the book. I specialize in non-fiction books and I take fiction books on a selective basis.


Book layout and design; book printing; channels of distribution and book marketing.

Publishers' Marketing Association. Book Publicists of Southern California.

MBA in Marketing and Finance. BA in Economics.

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