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I am in the process of writing my 1st book.  I am almost finished with it but need to know the next steps.  I need also some general information on how do authors make their salaries.  Is their a lot of money lost in the publishing process? Who edits the book?  Do I need an agent?  What about having the book copyrighted? Is it harder for 1st  time authors. What is a book proposal?  How do you get in touch with a publisher?  Is self publishing a smart move?

Answer
Dear a-b Tucker,
Thank you for your questions. Once you have finishd writing your book, then you write a good letter of inquiry and start sending it to publishers. At my website i have posted an article called "How to find a publisher" that offers information on how to write an inquiry letter and book proposal. http://steamboats.com/writing.html
That article should answer most of your questions, but i will also address them briefly here.
How do authors make their salaries?
Usually by having a "day job," in other words, a job that does not draw too much energy away from your writing. Or, a job that helps your writing career, such as a job in journalism or research.
Is their a lot of money lost in the publishing process?
Not at first. You have to have several books before you can retire from your day job and pursue writing full time. Most first time authors have a print run of 1,000 to 5,000 books and receive between 50 cents to $1 per book. That will not pay the rent for very long.
Who edits the book?
Most authors have a "first reader," a friend or family member who reads the book for them and offers feedback. Once you find a publisher, the publisher will supply a professional editor to work with you to get the book ready for publication.
Do I need an agent?
Probably not.  You only need an agent if you have written a book that would be suitable for one of the "big, big" publishers who do not look at unagented work. Most big publishers only take books from celebrities, magazine columnists, or people who are already famous. If you are lesser known, an agent may take your manuscript and lose it somewhere on their desk and never get back to you. You are the best person to sell your book because you have the best motivation. There are hundreds of publishers you can approach without an agent.
What about having the book copyrighted?
Usually that is not necessary, but if you're worried about it, you can join the Writer's Guild and put your manuscript on file with them.
Is it harder for 1st time authors.
Yes, but it's also hard for people who already have a book. It's a competitive field. The key is to have a good letter of inquiry and deliver on what you promise.
What is a book proposal?
You will see in my article, a book proposal usually consists of a cover letter, synopsis, table of contents, author's bio, and sample chapters. You may start out with a short book proposal, such as a cover letter, plus one or two pages to summarize what the book is about, and include the highlights of your author's bio.
How do you get in touch with a publisher?
The best way is by purchasing the Writer's Market (or similar directory if you're not in the U.S.) and study the directory to find publishers who may be interested in your book. Then send them a book proposal (or letter of inquiry) through the mail. Be sure to enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope for their reply.
Is self publishing a smart move?
Usually not for a first time author. It pays to have a good publisher behind your book. The publisher will make sure your book is the best it can be before they print it, plus they will help you find customers to buy it. They will advertise it and promote it in ways you could not do on your own. Some authors are successful with self-publishing, but it requires a substantial investement and most self-published authors wind up with boxes of unsold books in their garage.
All for now. Write back if you have any follow-up questions after reading the information posted at my site.
Sincerely,
Nori

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