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Need Information On Publishing? Do Your Homework!

Alison Schaumburg -- January 19, 2006

Alison digs through the library and the Internet for information on getting published. There's a lot out there. This article puts it all in one place.

Imagine something like this:

"One of (YOUR NAME HERE)'s Finest Novels... A Moving Tale of Love, Loss, Forgiveness, and Spiritual Renewal..."

Wouldn't it be great to see this in the New York Times Book Review Section? When the time comes for more publishing know-how, this guide may help take the "mist" out of mystery.

According to the Santa Barbara News Press, books are alive and well with about 195,000 new titles published in 2005, including 25,184 works of fiction.

So. You've finished the work - the writing part, that is. Now what? There are books that can help: (We are talking about real books, not ebooks!)

  1. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Published, 3rd edition, 2003
  2. Getting Your Book Published for Dummies by Sarah Parsons Zackheim
  3. The Complete Idiots Guide to Writing a Novel by Thomas Monteleone
  4. Shortest Distance Between You and Writing a Book by Susan Page
  5. How to Get Your Book Published: Inside Secrets of a Successful Author by Robert Bly
  6. Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why, 2nd Edition by Jeff Herman

But the web is so convenient. And so vast.

But first, a fact: The more time you spend researching the market for your novel (or whatever work you've sold your soul to create), the better your book proposal will be. An actual (not virtual) trip to the bookstore is wise, just to check out the shelf where your book would be displayed. Answer this important question... how many like yours are there? Ah, reality!

Also, check the catalogs. Simon and Schuster, Viking, Dearborn. Find the biggest publishers in your area. Study them carefully. Some web sites are: www.simonsays.com; www.penguinputnam.com; www.dearborn.com/trade.

Another resource is www.publishersmarketplace.com. For twenty dollars a month you have access to a marketplace for publishing professionals where you find critical information and unique databases. There is also www.writersdigest.com. There you will find the 7th Annual Listing of 101 Best Sites for Writers. Writers Digest has read 400 nominations, visited the sites and chosen favorites in 12 categories: articles; tips and discussion boards; creativity; general resources; genres; jobs; just for fun; media resources; niches; online writing and critique groups; online writing groups offering classes; organizations; and publishing resources!

The Best for 2005 Publishing Resources are as follows:

  1. 21st century publishing - www.julieduffy.com
  2. Agent query - www.agentquery.com
  3. Agent research - www.agentresearch.com/agent_ver.html
  4. Go Publish Yourself - www.go-publish-yourself.com
  5. Preditors & Editors - www.anotherealm.com/prededitors
  6. Science fiction and Fantasy Writers of America - www.sfwa.org
  7. U.S. copyright office - www.copyright.gov (this has a special link for literary works)

Want more homework? Check the reviews in the Books section of www.nytimes.com and follow the top 100 sellers at www.Amazon.com. Type in www.barnesandnoble.com, type a subject, and you'll find the top 25 sellers in that category.

For inspiration, I'd like to add a quote from Strunk and White's timeless The Elements of Style, "The whole duty of a writer is to please and satisfy himself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one. Let him start sniffing the air, or glancing at the Trend magazine, and he is as good as dead. Although he may make a nice living."

And, as M. H. Abrams, the founding and general editor of Norton's Anthology of English Literature for 40 years, said when he chose to become an English professor, "I thought, as long as I was going to starve, I'd starve doing something I enjoyed."

Good luck and www. Bon appetite!!