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Hi Nori
I'm trying to come up with an idea to make my book proposal "different/unique"; something that publishers would appreciate but seldom see from other would-be authors.  I've written a children's poetry book and I'm in the process of assembling my book proposal. Wrote it primarily for my grandson(3 y/o) and  because I love words and metaphorical descriptions. This will be my first attempt at publication. Written lots of poems but all unpublished.  I feel like my proposal is pretty extensive in regard to its content.  Although children's books don't appear to be your specific field, any advice on the following would be greatly appreciated:
1. any ideas what would "wow" a publisher, something unique that would get their attention
2. generall speaking, how much money can one expect in advance, if any, providing a contract is signed? $2,000-$3,000 range?
3. how many "copies sold" is considered  by a publisher to be a successful book? I presume it depends on the type of book but is 10,000 copies reasonable?
4. is it more difficult to get published if I don't have an agent and would you recommend addressing my proposal simply to "Editor" or should I call the publishers to determine who specifically to send my proposal to?
5. i can't tell from the writer's guidelines I've read if I should find someone who can do the drawings and submit them with my verse or if the publisher will provide an artist. Do you know?
6. if I find an artist, should he/she receive half of any advance payments and royalties, or do I pay them a one-time fee?
Thanks so much for you help, or if you aren't sure, if you can point me in another direction I would appreciate it.
Don
P.S. I hope you'll appreciate this story. Haven't told it to anyone before because I just didn't think they'd understand. One of the things that fascinates me most about becoming an author is the "immortality." A few years ago I saw the movie, "Children of A Lesser God" with Marlee Matlin and William Hurt. In one scene, he tells Marlee he's going to lie down and listen to some Bach. He places the needle on the LP, and as the music began it was so powerful I couldn't help but weep. It was--still is--the most beautiful music I've ever heard. (Noticed on the credits it was J.S. Bach's Double Concerto in D Minor for Violins. This specific movement was Largo Ma Non Tanto.) So the next day I went to the library and checked out the biography of J.S. Bach and devoured it. To think that someone can be so touched by an a work that originates from your soul(whether it's a book or music or a painting)--I think that is severly amazing.  

Answer
Dear Don,
Thank you for your questions. At my page for writers i have posted an article on how to find a publisher http://steamboats.com/writing.html
However, it sounds like you are already brushed up on how to write a book proposal. It sounds like a good project for kids, so i'll get right to your questions:

1. any ideas what would "wow" a publisher, something unique that would get their attention

i know what you mean. Perhaps you could include something about how you will market the book. Like, say you will set up poetry contests or poetry writing workshops in schools, something like that.

2. generall speaking, how much money can one expect in advance, if any, providing a contract is signed? $2,000-$3,000 range?

Yes, if the publisher offers an advance, they will base it on how many books they can sell in the first print run. That would usually be 1,000 - 5,000 for a first time author, with the author getting 5 - 10% of the cover price. If it goes into subsequent printings you can expect a royalty based on the same percentage.

3. how many "copies sold" is considered by a publisher to be a successful book? I presume it depends on the type of book but is 10,000 copies reasonable?

If the publisher prints 1,000 copies and sells them all, they consider it successful.
If you sell 10,000 copies consider yourself extremely successful. Most books by  first-time authors sell 1,000 to 5,000 copies.

In order to sell more, you must build up a following, a fan club of readers. That is how best selling authors do it. Usually, a best selling author has been in the publishing business a long time and has built up a following. Most best selling authors don't come out of nowhere. They are usually well-known in their field. Either that or they have a regular column, TV show, or they are the subject of a big news story.


4. is it more difficult to get published if I don't have an agent and would you recommend addressing my proposal simply to "Editor" or should I call the publishers to determine who specifically to send my proposal to?

Getting an agent is just as hard as getting a publisher. Plus, an agent may take your book but then let it languish on some back burner somewhere. You are probably the best person to sell your book, so i don't recommend getting an agent. Writers only need agents if they are a "hot property" where the agent can help them choose the best offer.

It is good to address your inquiry to a person, but just go by what they tell you at their web page. If it says to address inquiries to "Editor" or "Acquisitions Editor" or "Children's Book Editor," or whatever, just do that.

5. i can't tell from the writer's guidelines I've read if I should find someone who can do the drawings and submit them with my verse or if the publisher will provide an artist. Do you know?

Publishers usually provide an artist. They have illustrators lined up and they usually like the control to decide. However, there are cases where an author illustrates his or her own book, or chooses the illustrator. It's best to leave it up to the publisher. If you have drawings, submit them, but don't be married to them. It could be a deal killer for a publisher.

6. if I find an artist, should he/she receive half of any advance payments and royalties, or do I pay them a one-time fee?

That's the type of stuff you don't have to worry about. Let the publisher tell you what they do and go along with their protocol.

Becoming an author is a big honor for all the reasons you mention. It does lend you a sense of immortality and recognition. You can give people an experience similar to the Bach music you experienced. Those are the good reasons for writing books. Don't do it for the money, since there ain't usually much money involved. Writing a book can also give you lots of prestige in your field. For example, a teacher who writes a children's book can go on to speak at teacher's conventions, etc. Writing a book opens doors in your career. I encourage you to keep trying. If you have any follow-up questions, feel free to write back again.

Sincerely,
Nori  

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