Industry Information

What are my Publishing Options?

You’ve worked hard developing your manuscript or book proposal; now it’s time to decide how you will get your book out into the world. There are several different options; deciding which path is right for you will depend on your career goals, writing topic, potential market, and resources.  

Here we will break down each of the three primary publishing options, along with their pros and cons, to help you find the right approach for you.

Elements of a Nonfiction Book Proposal

A nonfiction book proposal is the key document that allows an agent or publisher to determine the viability of a project. Unlike fiction, where an author must have a completed manuscript ready before they approach a publisher or agent, a nonfiction author only needs to develop a proposal to submit to publishers and/or agents. 

The proposal should answer the following questions:

  1. Content: What is the book about?
  2. Market: Who would be interested in this idea?
  3. Competitive Titles: What other books already exist on this topic and how does this one differ?
  4. Platform: Who is the author, why is the author the best person to produce this book, and what are they doing to engage with potential readers?

How to Get an Agent

If you are looking to be published by a major publishing house, having an agent is essential. Most of the large publishers don’t accept submissions directly from authors. However, the agent is more than just a middleman. The agent represents the author, presents the author’s work to the appropriate acquisitions editor, and handles contract negotiations for the author’s rights over the work. The agent does all of this in exchange for 10% to 15% of all advances and royalties earned by the author. Avoid “agents” who ask for reading fees or any money up front—they shouldn’t make money until you do.

How do you get an agent?

Start by researching agents who represent your genre. This is important. You waste your time and the agent’s time if you send queries to someone who doesn’t represent your genre. You want an agent who is passionate about your genre and who will know the best place to send your work. It’s also good to go after a new agent—they’re more receptive to new authors. You can locate agents through the following resources:

Query Letter Resources

Whether approaching an agent or a publisher, you will need to draft a query letter. The query letter is a one-page cover letter that introduces you and your book. Query letters usually follow this format:

  • First Paragraph: Hook (includes the name of the book, the genre, word count, and the tagline for the book)
  • Second Paragraph: A one-paragraph synopsis (think of the book cover copy)
  • Third Paragraph: Publishing Credits (avoid any irrelevant bio information)
  • Formal closing

Some agents like to know why you selected them. Only include this if you have a very personal or compelling reason. Also, the main focus of your query letter is the book itself, not you the writer. This does not mean the publisher or agent is not interested in you the writer, or in your platform- building activities (which are extremely important). But the reality is that publishers buy books, not writers, and they must be interested in the book first. Once they are interested in the book, then you have to sell them on why you are the best person to write it.

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What Publishers Want

This guide serves as a tool to familiarize aspiring authors with the key elements publishers look for when evaluating a potential project.

If you have already written a book, or even if you are just considering writing one, you may have asked yourself what it is that publishers look for.

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula a writer can follow for guaranteed publication. What works and doesn’t work varies by genre, publisher, and other factors outside of the writer’s control. Still, there are some basic elements every publisher considers when evaluating a potential project. Those elements are: content, market, competitive titles, and author platform.

How to Publish a Book

Most professionals know that a book is a key element to building a reputation as an expert, but what they don’t know is how to write and publish a book. This guide explores the elements of a book proposal, ghost writing, other editorial services, understanding your publishing options, and how to determine which option is best for you.

A book is by far the best and most effective way for an expert to share his or her knowledge with others. A book is a resource, an uninterrupted communication tool, and an effective way to sell the expert as a superior thought leader in his or her field. A book is also a jumping off point from which to create other ancillary materials such as workbooks, audio, eBooks, and other items that enhance a professional’s career. Unfortunately, actually publishing and distributing a book is a daunting task and many professionals don’t know where to start.