It is worth noting that the combination of desk-top publishing and the Internet has brought about a major change to the image of self-publishing.
Rather than cope with organising the production and marketing of your book yourself, you may be tempted by the many advertisements for self-publishing companies in the writing press and on the Internet.
In addition to publishing, the services on offer range from critiquing, editing, design and publicity to marketing and Internet sales through their own online bookshops. Some even offer advice on arranging book launches and bookshop signings and guarantee you distribution through online bookstores such as amazon.com. Book lists and resumes of their existing authors may be readily available on their websites, together with submission guidelines for would-be authors.
However, if you are considering 'self-publishing' your manuscript through one of these companies, it is imperative that you check their credentials carefully to ensure that they are not simply vanity publishers in an updated, online form.
If your idea is good enough and you are convinced that there is a market niche for it, then your first step should always be to contact a suitable publisher. Market research is essential in order to help you familiarise yourself with the structure and length of similar books. Try to find a series into which your topic will fit, then write a chapter-by-chapter outline along the lines illustrated in Figure 10.
When you are sure that you have sufficient material to sell your idea, make a list of suitable publishers and telephone or write an initial enquiry letter asking if they would be prepared to consider your proposal.
The Salesman's B&B Directory INTRODUCTION
CHAP1: CHEAP AND CHEERFUL ACCOMMODATION
Under »25 per night Off-road parking Near town centre Close to motorway
CHAP 2: THREE STAR AND OVER
En suite rooms Full English breakfast Special deals Extra facilities
CHAP 3: LONG-HAUL STOPOVERS
Lesser-known routes Farmhouses Wferm welcomes Value for money
CHAPTER 4 ONWARDS: continue in this format until the last chapter which, for this type of book, would be along the following lines:
COSTS AND RECORD-KEEPING
Comparison of costs and services Expenses, record-keeping, tax implications Maps
Fig. 10. Sample outline for non-fiction book.
ADDRESS, Tel/Fax/Email date.
A Smith Publisher LondonW1
Dear Mr Smith
Following our telephone conversation in January this year, as requested I submitted an outline forTHE SALESMAN'S B & B DIRECTORY.
It is now three months since I heard from you and I would be grateful if you could let me know whether you are interested in publishing the book. If not, I would appreciate its prompt return so that I may submit it elsewhere.
Thanking you in anticipation.
If the idea is strong enough, you will be asked to submit your written outline based on the publisher's house style. Reputable publishers will usually respond quite quickly, probably within 4-6 weeks. Any longer than three months and you should chase them up and if necessary, request that the outline be returned to you (see Figure 11).
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