How To Submit A Book Proposal????
January 7, 2014 5:21 PM   Subscribe

I have a completed proposal for a spiritual, self-help book with catchy title. How would I go about contacting publishers for submission?
posted by goalyeehah to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You should probably contact agents first. Most publishers do not accept unsolicited proposals or manuscripts. You need an agent to get in those doors.

I recommend checking out AgentQuery to find agents who represent the kind of material you're shopping. Here is a guide to finding a legitimate agent, provided by the SFWA to help you along.

Good luck!
posted by headspace at 5:44 PM on January 7, 2014

Check out the Writer's Market reference guides. They not only can advise you about how to write a book proposal, but also whether or not to work through an agent (headspace's advice notwithstanding), which publishers to approach, and how to figure out the other ins and outs.

You can get Writer's Market books at any bookstore, in fact.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:51 PM on January 7, 2014

This place will accept unsolicited material; read their submission guidelines.

Also seconding the Writer's Market recommendation from EC.

You could self-publish, which carries a number of risks. I do know a few authors who successfully went this route. But you really need to educate yourself on the risks involved, which is why I'll second the advice to get an agent as well.
posted by misha at 9:22 PM on January 7, 2014

I've authored, co-authored, or contributed to nearly a dozen books, mostly for major publishers. And I'm not embittered, just realistic.

Understand the book market. If your idea is lightning-in-a-bottle good, and the concept is the catchiest, most sellable thing anyone's thought to write in years, and you're an accomplished author with previous publishing credits under your likely wouldn't be able to publish this in a way that would make you any significant money in the end. You might convince a minor publisher to take the risk for a measly few dollars worth of advance.

Add to that mix a bit of fame and a proven following on your part, and you can get a decent deal with a minor publisher. If you've got lots of fame and a big following (and thus really don't need the assist from a publisher!), then you're golden. Publishers are not about making you a star. They're not beating the bushes looking for promising talent with great ideas. They're trying to recruit sure-thing stars who can make them rich, and slightly lesser lights to take a chance on. It's exactly like the film industry. Tell 20th Century Fox about your TERRIFIC idea for an action pic, etc.

Just to make sure you fully assimilated the above, you will be competing with brilliant people with much experience and fantastic ideas for a cruddy contract with a cruddy publisher that will neither make you money nor get you noticed.

If your goal is an ego lift - to be able to say you've got a book out, and maybe get to do a few minor interviews, and generally feel pleased with yourself - then it may be doable, in a measly way, with a great deal of work, persuasion, and sacrifice - assuming the idea's truly awesome and you write beautifully (that's a HUGE assumption) and can sell yourself persuasively (thus demonstrating your salesmanship skills - it's not about your writing, it's about your ability to stoke interest in the book). You'll lose money when all's said and done, but you'll get the ego hit. And that's why most people do it. It amounts to vanity publishing. Publishers put out a few dozen such titles, for which they pay very little, hoping one explodes. If not, they cut your line pronto and stop returning phone calls. And people you'd deem impressive scurry to be among those few dozen.

If your goal is to make money or get famous or get your ideas "out there", then I'd suggest that book publishing at the present moment is absolutely not your best route to that.
posted by Quisp Lover at 10:32 PM on January 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

Professional presses buy these kind if books from first time offers only if they have a huge following or other dramatically self-evident promotional platform.

If that's not you, state of the art is to self publish the book, with contract editorial and promotion including a good blog / community site. Enough sales or blog traffic and the book will be picked up by a publisher. Can be done respectably for about a hotdog cart worth of investment ($10k plus ungodly amounts of your time).
posted by MattD at 5:25 AM on January 8, 2014

Amazon's self-publishing options deserve a look.
posted by sageleaf at 11:22 AM on January 8, 2014

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