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Question
Hi,
I'm one of those people who enjoys writing but who finds the publishing end daunting. I have a few manuscripts that I think are well worth being published. One is a full translation of the Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gita, another is a novel about a group of people who combine their efforts to create a global Utopian society.

Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks

Answer
The problem is that writing takes one skill set, and promoting our work to an agent or publisher takes an entirely different set of skills. The first task is creative; the second is a sales position. Many writers are shy; writing works for us because itís a solitary occupation. Most of us do not consider ourselves to be salespeople, yet if we want to sell our book, we have to learn the ropes and wear the hat of salesperson.

If you want to get published, you have to read some books on how to find an agent or a publisher, do the research to find potential agents or publishers, and follow their guidelines. Itís time-consuming, a little costly, and even a little painful when the rejections come in, but thatís the only path available to most of us, unless you are famous already or have an uncle in the publishing business.

You have a double task ahead of you, because you have written a nonfiction book and a novel, which means you have to learn how to approach nonfiction publishers as well as agents who handle fiction.

I went online and found a complete translation of the Bhagavad Gita at http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe08/sbe0812.htm, which means a publisher may not believe yours is a project worth investing in, if the information is available online for free. You will have to prove that your translation is better, unique in some way, and to prove the point, you must write a good book proposal. Get Michael Larsenís book, How to Write a Book Proposal, and follow it to create a good proposal of your own. You may be able to find a publisher for nonfiction without an agent, but for the novel, you will almost definitely need an agent.

When it comes to finding guidelines and information on publishers and agents willing and ready to accept manuscripts, I like www.WritersMarket.com the best. Thereís a small fee to use it, but itís easy to find exactly what you want and often links to Web sites with completely submission guidelines. Be sure to follow the guidelines to a T. Each agent or publisher will have its own guidelines; there is no standard there. Some want the full manuscript; others want only a query letter or a proposal or a sample chapter. Be careful and diligent and keep sending it out to the right places, and you may very well meet with success.

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Bobbie Christmas

Expertise

Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.

Experience

Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Organizations
Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Publications
Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Education/Credentials
Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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