How do I get a trade focused book published? Should I get an agent?
October 7, 2012 2:27 AM   Subscribe

How do I get a trade focused book published? Should I get an agent?

I have written a draft book which is an introduction to commercial property transaction. This is somewhat specialized for people who work in commercial real estate as sales agents or investors. I suppose it could be found in a Waterstones or Barnes and Nobles but the main audience are professionals working in the sector - not a broad audience.

Here in Europe there was one main publisher, Estates Gazette, which has now been acquired by a larger American publishing house. My original thoughts were to approach them with the finished manuscript but I am wondering if that would look too novice.

Does anyone have experience with getting such a book published?
posted by BigBrownBear to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Does anyone have experience with getting such a book published?

I have published three books in a similarly (but not similar) niche area. I had zero luck approaching the publishers directly with the first manuscript. All I got in reply was the thin envelope. Bunch of dimwits. What I did then was contact the editors/columnists of the well-known trade journals (magazines really) in my industy and opened a dialogue with them. These people are easily accessible - most of them publish their e-mail addresses - and the people I contacted were really friendly, helpful, understanding, and one was able to put me into recommended contact with a publisher. But don't just send off a copy of your manuscript to someone you don't know: Open a dialogue, introduce yourself, provide a short synopsis, etc. Having now sold 500 copies of that first book, I am about 1000 Euro richer for all my blood, swear, and investment which makes it by far the worst-paying job I have ever had.

In short, my experience is that I have gained far more from the research and writing of my books than I ever have from their being published. YMMV.

If I were to do it again, I would publish it myself through a print-on-demand outfit like lightning source.
posted by three blind mice at 3:30 AM on October 7, 2012

My publication experience is in a more mainstream area, so I defer to Three Blind Mice's wisdom. But one thing I would add, which I suspect applies to all non-fiction publishing, whether mainstream or niche:

Any time you are telling somebody about your book (whether a publisher or a reporter or any other contact), remember that you are not just selling your book; you are selling yourself as an author. So be sure to mention why you personally are qualified to write this book -- EG, "In fifteen years at one of Europe's largest commercial property sales company, I've overseen $100 million worth of transactions," or obviously whatever your actual qualifications are.
posted by yankeefog at 4:08 AM on October 7, 2012

I'm a nonfiction book agent, as well as an author of several niche books. I'd skip the agent, as it's not really necessary (most niche publishers aren't used to dealing with them) and since an agent isn't likely to be interested anyhow, since the low payout for niche books would mean the agent's cut for a deal would be minimal.

Instead, approach the publisher you've targeted with a query and an offer to send a book proposal or table of contents and several chapters. Never send an entire nonfiction manuscript without being asked.

Make sure your query includes a bio that lists your qualifications to write the book, as yankeefog mentioned, as well as what you'd be able to do to help market the book. (Do you speak to people regularly about the subject? Do you have a blog with followers, a good twitter presence, etc.?)
posted by carrienation at 9:01 AM on October 7, 2012

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