Shortest Distance Between You And A Published Book

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Publishers buy new book ideas every week.  Why not yours?

Whether your book consists of a few notes on the back of a napkin or a completed manuscript, Susan Page's proven system will make your dream of successful publication come true.  A bestselling author and leading consultant to other writers, Susan Page knows the difference between common industry wisdom that doesn't work and the precise, easy-to-follow strategies that actually get results.  In...

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The Shortest Distance Between You and a Published Book

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Publishers buy new book ideas every week.  Why not yours?

Whether your book consists of a few notes on the back of a napkin or a completed manuscript, Susan Page's proven system will make your dream of successful publication come true.  A bestselling author and leading consultant to other writers, Susan Page knows the difference between common industry wisdom that doesn't work and the precise, easy-to-follow strategies that actually get results.  In this breakthrough book, she leads you away from the obstacles that often delay and frustrate writers and introduces the twenty essential steps for success, including:

The three "magic first steps" you must take now to claim success later on

The real differences between self-publishing and selling to a publisher

Clever methods for finding a truly brilliant title for your book

The formula for writing proposals that get read...and then bought

A deliberate method for finding the right agent for you

The six biggest hidden heartbreaks in publishers' contracts and how to avoid them

The range of royalty advances and how much you might expect (hint: it may be larger than you think!)

Seven minimum requirements for a six-figure advance

A step-by-step method for planning your own "blockbuster" promotion

Susan Page not only tells you how to proceed, she anticipates how you might feel at various stages and deftly coaches you through the best and the worst of it all.  And the gift many of her clients have appreciated most is the crucial, little-known skill of keeping your hopes high and your expectations realistic.  This book will leave you feeling excited, inspired, and ready to get to work.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The neophyte, certainly, and possibly even the already published will find that Page, as her subtitle claims, really does tell you what you need to know to get happily published. This self-help author If I'm So Wonderful, Why Am I Still Single? knows what she's talking about, whether she's advising on how to write a book proposal, find an agent or promote one's book. To accomplish the latter successfully, Page suggests working at it full time for three months, then part time for a yearthat's for the hardcover edition; the process starts again with the paperback reprint. Altogether she has devised 20 steps to walk you through a procedure that's likely to discourage the fainthearted. Page can't seem to resist a bit of lobbying as she makes a lengthy pitch in support of independent bookstores, and she's on target with her suggestion that attending regional bookseller conventions is beneficial. This is one of the more instructive guides to read before writing your book. June
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553061772
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/28/1997
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Page is the author of three previous books, How One of You Can Bring the Two of You Together, Eight Essential Traits of Couples Who Thrive, and If I'm So Wonderful, Why Am I Still Single?  Her work has been translated into 14 languages and sold in 28 countries.  She lectures widely, is a past chapter president of the National Speakers Association, and has been helping authors to successful publication for years.

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Read an Excerpt

Step 3—Establish Your Book's Unique Identity

Time required: Sixty to ninety minutes now; thirty minutes periodically to revise.  (Possibly the most important sixty minutes of your writing career.)

For your book to succeed, it must make an original contribution.  Agents and editors will not consider one more legal thriller, one more serial killer novel, one more book on what's wrong with American business, or one more low-fat cookbook—unless it truly contains a new angle.

If you have an unusual personal experience that will interest others, new information about a historical figure, an innovative plot for a mystery, or you can fill a genuine gap in the existing literature, this is ideal.

For example, my second book, Eight Essential Traits of Couples Who Thrive, was motivated by my observation that most books about couples are written by therapists who worked almost exclusively with couples who are unhappy or dysfunctional.  I felt the need for a book that looked at healthy, happy marriages to see what we could learn from them about how to make love work.  My new angle was to write a book about healthy rather than dysfunctional relationships.

Another author, Azriela Jaffe, started a new business with her husband, encountered difficulties, searched for a book that might help, and discovered that all of the books about how to start a new business contained absolutely nothing about the enormous personal and family issues surrounding entrepreneurship.  A gap in the literature!  She rushed to fill it with her highly successful Honey, I Want to Start My Own Business.

But not every new book contains brand-new ideas.  Your book may be based on known material and can still be distinctive in its presentation, its vocabulary, or its imagery.  Instead of writing one more software manual, IDG Books capitalized on people's fondness for playing dumb about computers and called its series The Internet for Dummies, Windows for Dummies, and so on.  Jay Conrad Levinson used the idea of non-establishment, underground approaches with his book, Guerrilla Marketing.  Now there is a whole series of Guerrilla books on many aspects of business.  Or instead of How to Negotiate, Joel Edelman wrote The Tao of Negotiation, a title that conjures up a scene of calm, spiritually mature people in a room together, working things out.  These are all examples of creative imagery and vocabulary.

There is no end to the novel ideas (!) that can give your work of fiction a distinctive twist.  Can you put your thriller plot idea in a historical setting? The Alienist isn't one more serial killer novel, but is set in historical New York City.  Lilian Jackson Braun's innovative twist is that the character who solves the crime is a cat.  The Celestine Prophecy, rather than presenting New Age philosophy in a standard nonfiction format used an Indiana Jones-type plot to introduce his ideas, blurring the line between fiction and nonfiction.

Perhaps your original contribution is that you organize information in a novel way, or make it more accessible to the reader than any previous book has.  The more dramatically innovative you can be, the easier it will be for you to gain the attention of agents and editors—and ultimately the attention of booksellers and book buyers.

So, whatever stage your book is in now, stop everything else and answer the questions below.  Be sure to review and revise them periodically.  You may find as you get into your writing that the distinctive angle will actually change or become more obvious, or that you have found far more compelling words with which to convey it.

If you aren't sure how your book is distinctive, this exercise will motivate you to begin thinking along these lines.  Spend a little time with the exercise now to prime the pump.  As you work, if you are on the lookout for them, distinctive angles will occur to you and may even alter the direction of your work.

Exercise: Defining Your Book's Distinctive Angle

Important Note: You will actually use all of the material in this exercise in the writing of your proposal.  When you get to that step, you will be grateful to have completed this homework now.  Complete all four steps, even though they may seem similar.

1.  Pretend a potential literary agent has just asked you, "How is your book different from all the other books on this topic?" Write down one or two sentences that give a succinct, dazzling answer to the question.  (Keep returning to these sentences as you write until you hone them to perfection.)

2.  Pretend you are about to appear on a national TV show to talk about your book.  Prepare both a five-second and a fifteen-second promotional spot, designed to run the day before, that will make your show irresistible to viewers.  You know, the kind that ends with, ".  .  .  Tomorrow on Oprah."

3.  Pretend you are the sales rep for your publisher.  You are trying to persuade a bookstore to carry your book, but because you represent so many other books also, you have only thirty seconds to convince a bookseller.  Write out your thirty-second sales pitch.

4.  Write a paragraph with the following outline:

A.  Why is there a need for your book?  For example, what pain are readers experiencing in their lives?  What information do they lack?  What predicament exists in society?  What vacuum is longing to be filled?  In what new way could readers be entertained?  What's the problem? Where's the void?

B.  How will your book fill this need, resolve this pain, supply this information, explain this predicament, fill this vacuum, provide this entertainment, or solve this problem?

C.  Why are you the person who should write this book?  What experiences in your life qualify you? How did you gain your expertise or your special knowledge?

Again, make one attempt to answer these questions now, and keep returning to them as your ideas become sharper.

Excerpted from The Shortest Distance Between You and a Published Book: 20 Steps to Success by Susan Page. Copyright (c) 1997 by Susan Page. Excerpted by permission of Broadway Books, a division of the Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.  All rights reserved.  No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Table of Contents


Part I
Everything You Need to Know to Get Published Successfully in the Order You Need to Know It
1. Understand the Big Picture......3
The Steps in Brief......4
The Ecstasy and the Agony......5
Writers Conferences......7
Publishers Weekly......8
2. Establish Clear Goals for Your Book......9
How Can You Know What Are Realistic Goals? ......10
If Your Goal Is to Earn Money......12
If Your Goal Is to Make a Living by Writing Books......13
3. Establish Your Book's Unique Identity......17
4. Start Working on a Fabulous Title......21
Characteristics of a Good Title......21
How to Find the Perfect Title......26
5. Decide Whether You Are Going to Self-Publish or Sell to a Publisher......29
Self-Publish or Sell? ......29
Small Presses......34
6. (Or 12) Write Your Book......36
When to Write Your Book......36
How to Write Your Book: The Basics......37
Ways to Skip This Step Altogether and
Never Write a Word......45
7. Write a Book Proposal......47
The Nonfiction Proposal......48
Preparing and Mailing Your Proposal......63
The Fiction Proposal......65
The Realities of Writing and Selling Fiction......68
8. Enlist a Famous or Highly Credentialed Person to Write a Foreword or Endorsement for Your Book......70
9. Enlist the Services of a Fabulous Literary Agent......73
Why You Need a Good Literary Agent......74
Characteristics of a Good Literary Agent......76
How to Find the Right Agent for You......80
How to Get an Agent to Find You......99
The Agency Agreement......99
Proposal Revisions......100
Circumstances When You Might Want to Proceed
Without an Agent......101
10. Sell Your Book......103
Requests for Additional Information......104
One Offer......106
Multiple Offers......106
The Royalty Advance......108
11. Negotiate and Sign Your Contract......114
Reviewing Your Contract......116
A Note About the Sequence of Events......130
12. (Or 6) Write Your Book (If You Haven't Already) ......131
13. Deliver and Then Revise Your Manuscript ......132
14. Keep Your Eye on Production and Marketing Details......138
Title and Subtitle......141
Jacket or Cover Design......142
Author Questionnaire......146
Catalogue Copy......146
Sales Conference......147
Flap Copy and Back Copy......148
Author Photo......149
First Serial, Foreign, and Book Club Rights......150
15. Solicit Endorsement Blurbs......153
16. Plan Your Own Promotion and Publicity......159
You Are in Charge Here......159
Establish Your Marketing Plan......163
Ask for a Promotion Conference......163
Accomplish Whatever You Can Before Your Pub Date......170
17. Celebrate Your Publication Date and Your Power As a Published Author......171
Consider a Publication Event......171
Support Independent Booksellers......172
Join Writers Advocacy Groups......176
Attend the ABA, Regional Booksellers Associations
Events, or Book Fairs......178
18. Publicize and Promote Your Book......180
Keep Booksellers Posted......180
Guard Against the Fatal Gap......184
Monitor Your Sales Figures......186
Understand That the Effect of Publicity Is Cumulative......187
Prepare for Your Media Interviews......188
19. Royalty Checks and Remainders......199
Royalty Statements and Royalty Checks......199
Hardcover Remainders......200
20. Participate in Your Paperback Publication and Start Planning Your Next Book......201
The Paperback Reprint of Your Hardcover......201
Start Planning Your Next Book......204

Taming the Monsters and Reaping the Joy
Monster #1: Self-Doubt......211
Monster #2: Procrastination......218
Naming the Monster......218
Getting Started Strategies......222
On Waiting Until You Are Ready......223
Monster #3: Envy......224
Accept It......224
Take a Gift from Your Envy Before You Leave It......226
Replace the Unpleasant Thoughts with Pleasant Ones......226
Avoid Toxic People and Surround Yourself with Support......228
Join or Form "Helium" Circles or Partnerships......230
Reaping the Joy......235
Let's Keep Talking......241
Sample Proposal......243

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2003

    Susan Page's Advice is Great!!

    I loved this book. This book not only gave me great information, but encouraged me to continue writing even when I received rejections. I now have a published book and owe gratitude to Ms. Page for her attention to the writers' spirit as well as the nuts and bolts of the publishing world.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2014

    Waste of time

    Self publishing desk top and first book on e book etc in our part of the country is so common what with three colleges twenty miles away. Of course you have to get friends to sell your books in their store or cafe and do signings at and maybe the local vfw and give free ones to local library and va hospital but most writers can afford a short run what is hard to find is an old fashion manuscript or thesis typist for the computer innept they even have home perfect binders now or do a neat spiral bound at your local office max

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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