Writing Books/book writing


how do you become eligible to publish a book?

Hello Eric!

You become "eligible" to publish a book when you have (1) written a book and (2) found an agent interested in selling it for you and (3) they have arranged a deal for you with a publisher or (4) you have decided to publish it yourself. That's all there is to it! I am assuming you have not yet become eligible. If you have, please return for more help.

The publishing business is in a bad way these days. Publishing houses used to depend on the high list (a few books selling very well) to finance the beginning writer but the situation has become more ruthless in the last decade or two. The big outfits like Time-Life have bought up many of those publishers and they are no longer interested in beginning writers. These days, you have to be somebody important, like a serial killer or a prominent athlete to be published by the big houses.

Upon finishing your book, you must attempt to find an agent willing to represent you. There are several books on the market that list agents; the trick is to find one who likes YOUR book. In fact, agents have taken over the tasks that used to be performed by "first readers" in publishing houses. The process is the same: you send a few chapters and a synopsis to the agent and then you wait. If you are a beginner, you can't expect much of an advance, if any, or good residuals. As a beginner, you are not in a position to negotiate a contract - that's what the agent does.

If you do succeed in selling your book, there's a good chance that you will be required to sell the entire print run yourself. The publisher will not advertise you. You will find yourself driving around to book stores trying to persuade them to display a few copies. If you don't succeed in selling them you may have to buy the rest from the publisher. If your book does not sell 5000 copies in a reasonable time, you will not be asked for a second one.

There is a way around this, and that is e-publishing. You can make a website and put your book up on it and sell it from there. You get to keep all the money. The only problem is that you must find some way to get the name of the book before the eyes of the reading public. That's marketing, and there is plenty of information online about that.

If you haven't finished a MS yet, put all this out of your head and concentrate on finishing. Try to write your best, and hopefully, you have an interesting subject. Those two things will improve your chances.

I hope this has helped. If it has, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my "straight 10" rating out of 180 answers.

And good luck with your writing!  

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Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at http://pygmypress.com, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

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