How to Get a Book Published

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How to Get a Book Published

If you have already written a book or have a great idea for a book, one way to capitalize on your idea or finished manuscript is to publish it. Generally speaking, there are two distinct ways to publish a book. The first way to publish a book is to publish it on your own. With today’s technology, you can literally write, edit, include photos and graphics and publish a standard type book for less than $30. In fact, using self publishing techniques from the point where you upload your photos and text files to the point at which your book is delivered to your door can take less than a week.

The other way to publish a book is mainly for those that would like their book to be a commercial enterprise. This course of action can be extremely complicated, time consuming and costly. Here are some tips on publishing your book as a commercial enterprise.

A Literary Agent Can Help

If you are seriously considering writing a book or have already written a book and would like to sell it to a publisher you will need a literary agent. Literary agents are used by publishing houses as filters. They usually only accept projects that have potential and weed out the weaker book ideas or manuscripts. It is important to note that many authors that are looking to publish their book for monetary gain do not write their book until they are picked up by a publisher.

Finding a Literary Agent

In order to find a literary agent you must create a query letter and proposal. Query letters are usually one page letters with a short summary of your idea or book, who you are and what your qualifications to write the book are. If a literary agent is interested in the idea, then he or she will ask for a proposal.

A proposal is usually several pages long with a synopsis and more detailed info on your book or your idea. Below is a general outline of what is included in a general proposal.

  • Include a cover letter to introduce yourself, your project and your objective.
  • 2-3 pages outlining your idea. These pages should contain compelling information regarding what the book is about, how your book will be unique from others, the market that you would like to target and how you can reach that market. You are selling your book idea, so be extremely convincing.
  • If you have written the book already, you can add a page or a small excerpt of the book. If you haven’t written the book, it is wise to add a small writing sample (less than one page).
  • Include information about yourself and why you are qualified to write this book.
  • Include marketing information or a marketing plan to help them understand why you think this book will be a good seller and any ways in which you can help promote your book.

It should be pointed out that a literary agent is not cheap. Most literary agents charge a commission of 15% if they land you an offer. While not cheap, literary agents are extremely necessary because publishing houses only go through certain channels to green light books. If you have already written a book and are sending it to publishing houses, chances are it will not get picked up, due to the fact that not many publishers have time to read a 400 page book.

Find an Editor

An editor is a professional that will help you develop your book into its full potential. While an editor does check over grammar, he or she is more interested in focusing on creating a masterpiece out of a simple idea. This means that the editor will ask you to rework sentences, chapters, etc to bring out nuances in characters or to help tell the story. Since an editor works closely with you, you will want to pick out a person that you trust and has good ideas. Some editors constantly clash with authors; however they tend to bring out the best in an author and are worth their weight in gold. It should be noted that some literary agents will request who your editor is before considering you as a client. Therefore it is a good idea to hire an editor before you seek a literary agent.

Finding a Publisher

Once you have a literary agent that believes in your book or idea, they will contact various publishers to help sell your book. This process can take a few weeks to as long as a few years and it should be noted that there are many books that never get picked up.

Closing on a Publishing Deal

If you are one of the lucky authors to have a book that a publisher is interested in printing, you will most likely need to talk to the publisher or have your agent talk to the publisher in order to create and close on a deal. If your book is already complete, the publisher will possibly ask you to fine tune some of the pages or change some things around to make the book more marketable. If you have just an idea, the publisher will ask you and your editor to develop a book that fits their criteria. Some publishing houses will specifically outline a book; others will give you much more creative control over the finished product. Obviously it is ultimately up to you whether you accept the terms of the publishing house and write the book as stated or reject the terms and shop it around for an offer more to your liking.

What to Expect on a Publishing Deal

Generally speaking, when you sign a deal with a publisher, you will receive an advance of royalties. An advance is a non refundable payment that is usually applied to all royalties that are made from the sale of your book. Generally, an advance will cover the sales of the book the publisher expects to make for a term of one or two years. Advances can range widely. For instance, top authors can receive advances of several million dollars; a new author with a book on a small niche might only bring in an advance of several thousand dollars. Each book and each publishing house varies.

Royalties is the other component in payment for your book. Royalties vary as well from publishing house to publishing house, as well as for each individual author and each individual book they sell. Royalties in general are from 6% to 10% of the retail price of all paperback- type books and from 6% to 15% for all retail price hard covered books. It should be noted that special format books, such as coffee table books or reference books can be less, because of the special production costs involved.

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  1. steve allison said,

    on May 20th, 2011 at 7:40 am

    I have written a baseball novel..It is fiction based on fact. This is the interesting part of my personal biography. I lived in Hollywood California. Many celebrities are favorably mentioned in the book. They have expressed interest in publishing my book (perhaps out of fear) I must have ten offers from celebrities to write a forward or dedication. Is this an area I should pursue? Thanks, Steve

  2. Tina Brown said,

    on August 22nd, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    In the first paragraph of this article, you reference self-publishing for $30 – Could you please expand on that? Is there a company out there that will do it for you that cheaply? Any additional information you could provide about that would really be appreciated. Thank you.

  3. Michael Candell said,

    on March 7th, 2010 at 6:25 pm


    I came across your website, found it interesting, and had a question for you. Are books written by people who have committed criminal offenses and/or done prison time appealing to editors and the publishing industry, in general? I have a brother with a very unique story, a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, true story, that I thought would make a compelling book.

    It is a story that almost every male or female in America could relate to. You’d truly would have to read it to believe it. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


  4. JER0EN R0LAND said,

    on December 8th, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    If write book i must first learn to speak clear english! Who be succes to write a book, your must have a story and big fantasia!

  5. admin said,

    on June 15th, 2009 at 7:02 am

    Hi Kathy – yes, it is copyright protected. However, if you would like to re-publish the article, you may do so if you include a link back to this page. Thanks!

  6. KattyBlackyard said,

    on June 14th, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    I really like your post. Does it copyright protected?