Help me make an idea into a book
January 29, 2012 10:49 AM   Subscribe

I have a great idea for an instructional book, but I know nothing about what to do next...

Without getting too specific, it is a yoga book which (surprisingly) doesn't seem to exist yet. I believe it could be incredibly useful for yoga practitioners and teachers alike.

So, what now? Do I make a simple version of the book and try to pitch it to publishers? The art and text aspect of the book is the stuff I can handle (with help from friends), it is the logistical stuff that I am in the dark about. How does one go about making an idea into a product? Is book making becoming like music production, i.e. something I can do on my laptop?
posted by palacewalls to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What I know from academic publishing, which might be a little different, is you pitch a "book proposal" to the publisher - but it's best to do that only when the book is nearly done, because they'll often want sample chapters, an if they accept, they'll want to give you a deadline.

Each publisher has different requirements for what goes in a book proposal. So narrow it down to possible publishers, and then query one at a time. Do not spam multiple publishers at once. Choose potential publishers by looking at similar books to yours and seeing where they were published, then looking at the publisher's website.

Probably the publisher will want artwork done to a specific style and will have artists or stock images they want to use, so prepare the text only, with a short caption where each image would go. Unless the publisher's website says differently, of course.

When you prepare the text, the publisher's website should have guidelines about formatting, but generally they want as little formatting done as possible. Often all text should be the same font size, with sparing use of italics and no bolding. Often they want everything double spaced, with normal margins. Again, read the website carefully. (You may have to reformat each time you send out sample chapters, if you don't get accepted the first few places you try.)

All the stuff I'm talking about from the publisher's website should be in a section (often a downloadable manual) called something like "For authors".

Again, this is from academic publishing, which is quite different from normal publishing in many ways (no one makes any money off it, mainly). So if someone gives you more specific advice for your situation, follow that where it conflicts with mine.
posted by lollusc at 4:43 PM on January 29, 2012

"Is book making becoming like music production, i.e. something I can do on my laptop?"

Yes, you can make a book on your laptop, using a word processor. It's just a document... possibly a huge document with complex internal structure, but still, just a word processing document.

You'll probably want photos of the yoga positions, so you'll need a word processor that lets you insert graphics. Almost all word processors these days support graphics: MS Word, StarOffice/OpenOffice/LibreOffice, etc.

What are your goals for this book? Do you want to make money, or possibly you just want to get the info out, or possibly just want to become known for this. If the latter two, you night look at self-publishing sites, such as They have several levels of service, the simplest being that you upload your document to them, choose how it'll be bound, what type paper, etc, the price, and people can buy it from them. Your local copy shop can do this also, but may only offer lower end binding options (softcover, not hardcover).

Might also think about online instructional videos, blogs, eHow,Youtube, LifeHacker. There are, of course, yoga-specific sites as well, where you might find your audience.
posted by at at 10:54 AM on January 30, 2012

Thanks for the helpful answers! I'll add a bit of recent advice from a friend on the publishing periphery:
"... try Human Kinetics, the company that publishes Yoga Anatomy... also check LMP (Literary Market Place). They list most publishers along with their areas of interest and the names of their editorial staff. Pick out some companies who have good yoga lists and send them a
proposal. "
posted by palacewalls at 9:59 PM on January 30, 2012

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