What's the next step after writing a book?
February 7, 2012 11:02 AM   Subscribe

I wrote a good book. Now what?

I wrote a book on language learning (Part of my job involves being able to speak in 4-6 languages, so on the way I've become really good at learning languages). It needs to be edited a bit, but so far everyone who's read it has really liked it.

Now what?

Self publishing via Amazon (Kindle direct + CreateSpace) seems pretty easy and relatively lucrative if anyone actually decides to buy the thing, but I imagine there might be better ways to go. Anyone have experience with this stuff?
posted by sdis to Writing & Language (13 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Query agents. Get a copy of the Writer's Market and find agents who sell your kind of book, then find out what they need (summary, outline, chapter samples, etc.) to consider your work.
posted by xingcat at 11:07 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could have a look at Absolute Write and see if they can give you some guidance, also. There's a non-fiction section on there.

And you could use QueryTracker to query agents.

And good luck - I for one would buy your book. I speak one foreign language fluently and another one decently, but neither one was easy for me to learn at all. If there are shortcuts to language learning then I'd sure like to know about them.
posted by hazyjane at 11:12 AM on February 7, 2012

if you want to go through a traditional publisher, you need to get an agent. publishing houses will not touch your book without one.
posted by violetk at 11:15 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nonfiction has a reputation for being hard to sell through the normal channels if you aren't somehow known for it already. Not that you shouldn't do the querying thing, but maybe also start on a side plan--the "getting known for it" part will serve you just as well with regular or self-publishing, I would imagine. So things along the lines of... start blogging, seeing if you can find places to publish articles on the same subject, etc. If your product is good, then the big barrier to self-publishing is generally getting people to find out about it to buy it.
posted by gracedissolved at 11:18 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've done the e-pub route through Amazon. I'm happy with my decision, but it comes down to a lot of particulars. You should ABSOLUTELY look into getting an agent and check out the requirements/expectations of publishers in this field. It will be worth the effort.

Keep Amazon in the back of your mind. If all else fails and nobody bites on your book, there is still the Amazon route and therefore your work will ultimately not be wasted. (Also, if you go this route, look at Smashwords. Amazon provides Kindle-only. Smashwords puts formats out for Kindle, Nook, generic e-readers...the whole shebang. You can go with both. I did.)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:18 PM on February 7, 2012

I am not your agent or an agent, and I don't work in nonfiction trade or academic publishing, but I do know a little bit about book publishing.

Are you legitimately qualified to be teaching that kind of information? I mean, are you a PhD., or otherwise educated? I ask because in order to get a publishing deal, you'll need the qualifications--simply having figured out some good tricks won't get you in the door. If you're someone who's figured out these tricks--and I don't doubt that you are--but you're not on-paper qualified, I would probably advise you to forgo the agent/traditional publishing sphere and look into self-publishing. (Alternately, assuming you don't have the necessary qualifications, get yourself hooked up with someone who does.)
posted by editrixx at 12:47 PM on February 7, 2012

Actually, a non-fiction book on a topic of fairly narrow interest like this is likely to be published by a small niche publisher or a university publisher. Agents are not the norm for submissions to either kind of publisher.

I agree with what editrixx says here. You don't say what your job is, which is fine, but that will make a difference both in your credibility and in what kind of "platform" you have for the book.

Let me recommend AbsoluteWrite.com as a good resource. There are a lot of people there who have worked, and who are currently working, in the non-fiction and academic publishing worlds who will have lots of information and leads for you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:02 PM on February 7, 2012

Check out this book, it explains a lot about the process of getting published: Thinking Like Your Editor.
posted by feets at 11:57 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Tim Ferris has an interest in this subject, a huge following and a genius for marketing. Whatever route you take to getting published, your next step should be getting him to take notice of (and hopefully promote) your work.
posted by zanni at 1:15 AM on February 8, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all! Question: I've heard that self-publishing can hurt your chances of getting picked up by a publisher. Is that at all true?

To answer some questions: editrixx: it's a legitimate question, and the answer is yes and no, mostly no. I'm an opera singer with a masters degree (in art song) and I've taught English for several years. It's actually two books, one specifically for classical singers who need to get fluent in 3-4 languages, and the other for everyone else. The singer one will be a niche audience with a niche publisher, and for that, I think my qualifications are fine. The other one will take some work to sell the idea that a classical singer would be in a particularly good position to know a lot about languages.
posted by sdis at 9:01 AM on February 8, 2012

It used to be true that self-publishing was the kiss of death, but that's not necessarily a fact anymore. I would not self-publish a book with the intention of having it eventually published by a traditional publisher, though. Self-publishing, if you choose that route, should not be considered the means to an end; that should be the path you're choosing.
posted by editrixx at 11:33 AM on February 8, 2012

Response by poster: So now it hurts your chances, but doesn't eliminate them?

If there was no effect, then it seems like I could work on getting reviews and a readership (and some money!) while I was searching for appropriate agents and such..
posted by sdis at 11:38 AM on February 8, 2012

Stories like these may make you feel better about the self-publishing option. New authors seem to see it as a potential marketing avenue that routes around the traditional publishing model. It enables those publishers to see that you have some traction with an audience.
posted by clicking the 'Post Comment' button at 6:14 PM on February 8, 2012

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