Blow Us Away!: Publishers' Secrets for Successful Manuscripts

Blow Us Away!: Publishers' Secrets for Successful Manuscripts

by E. Keith Howick Jr.

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Overview

Blow Us Away!: Publishers' Secrets for Successful Manuscripts by E. Keith Howick Jr.

Two manuscripts sit on a publisher's desk.They both deserve to be published,but only one will be.One author knew what the publisher needed,the other didn't...Publishers and agents around the world are waiting to be blown away by the next great manuscript, but are frustrated by the average new author's lack of preparedness; 85% of manuscripts are rejected because the story, concept, or writing is bad. This book isn't for those authors! If you don't know how to write a good story or clearly explain your solution to a problem, this book can't help you.Thirteen percent are rejected because they aren't presented well to publishers. These are well-written manuscripts that lack marketing insight, organization, or an understanding of the book industry. This book is for these authors.Bring publishers a great book with all the background information we need to make a good business decision and you've got a deal.Come on, I dare you! Blow Us Away!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781886249394
Publisher: WindRiver Publishing
Publication date: 02/17/2009
Pages: 173
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

E. Keith JB Howick, Jr., president of WindRiver Publishing, has worked with hundreds of authors over a six year period to help them understand how publishers think and what they expect. His experiences vary from first-time authors still working on the rudiments of writing to experienced authors learning to navigate the often closed roads of the book industry.

Read an Excerpt

Books carry an aura of romance. People love them; they love to hold them, to smell the paper and feel their texture, and to carry them with them wherever they go. Books conjure up images of curling up on a couch in front of a cheery fire, or soaking in a tub of warm water. We think of literary parties with elegantly dressed men and women praising intellect and creativity, and we see in our mind's eye the dedicated writer working hard over a computer or a typewriter. Often, we believe that writing a book is the pursuit of gentlemen and ladies, and that the just reward for the artists' work is to enjoy the applause of their fans as the royalty checks roll in.

Writing a book looks easy and glamorous and, as Hemingway purportedly said, "everyone has at least one good book in them." However, Hemingway did say, "You must be prepared to work always without applause." Many new authors don't realize that there is a lot of work to be done before submitting a manuscript to a publisher and even more work thereafter. Moreover, they face competition the minute they put pen to paper. About 20 million manuscripts are circulating among thousands of U.S. publishers at any given time. From these manuscripts, about 200,000 new titles are published each year. All other things being equal, a manuscript has about a one-in-one-hundred chance of being published.

However, all other things are not equal. Most authors fail before their manuscripts are ever submitted because they don't consider their competition or they know too little about the book industry. Even if an author is published, his or her battle against competition will not end until both publisher and author agree that the book is no longer selling. About two million in-print titles are on sale at any given time throughout the U.S. Eventually (with very rare exceptions), people will stop buying a book and look for fresh titles.

There are a great many authors with varying degrees of skill and opportunity, and a great many publishers who must manage the risk of publishing. Publishing a book is always risky. Despite the publisher's best efforts and money well spent on promotion, the public may simply choose to read another book. Each publisher attempts to minimize this risk through skill and the wise use of resources. Authors, too, must manage risk. Writing a good book requires more than a good idea and time to write. It requires good writing skills, good research, good feedback, good marketing skills, and good preparation.

Successful authors learn to set aside the romantic vision of writing and educate themselves in the business aspects of publishing. A good, well-written story coupled with preparation for publication will greatly increase the odds of a book getting published.

Table of Contents

I Introduction

v Syllabus

1 Overcoming the Romance

3 Industry Overview

7 How the Economy Affects Submissions

9 Take Advantage of the Internet

9 Manage Your Expectations

11 Develop Good Writing Skills

15 Understanding your Audiences

Children - Reviewers - Book Buyers - Libraries -Wholesalers - Distributors - Adults - Corporations

22 Consider Your Competition

23 Using Readers

26 Pre-submission Marketing and Promotion

Title and Subtitle - Completed Manuscript - Three Sample Chapters -Target Audience Summary - Market Relevance Statement - Market Research Overview -Endorsements - Biography or Curriculum Vita - Comprehensive Synopsis - Two-Page Query Letter - One-Page Query/Cover Letter - Pre-Order Opportunities - Query Letters - Project Proposals - Full Manuscripts - Be Aware, Be Very Aware

51 Submitting to Agents

51 Publisher Types

Getting Notices through Self-Publishing

56 The Ideal Publishing Library

57 Submitting to Publishers

Bad Physical Presentation - Poor Writing Skills - Inappropriate Genre - Insufficient Postage - No Slots Available - Resubmitted Without Improvements - A Poorly Organized Book - Unemotional Fiction - Offensive Language or Content - Knowledge of the Publishing Business - Too Much Time has Passed - Reviewer Burnout - The Story has been Done Before - The Subject Matter is Not Timely - No Author Credibility - The Project Requires Too Much Unique Marketing - The Manuscript has Too Much Competition - Willingness to Promote - Additional Manuscripts - Choose to Be a Nice Person

73 What to Do While Waiting

Improve Your Submission - Market Research - Local Media

77 Follow-Up with Publishers

78 Rejections

80 Advances and Royalties

Advances - Royalties - Who Gets the Money?

88 The Publishing Contract

Right of First Refusal - Copyright and the Right to Publish - Market - Geographic and Format Rights - Royalty Thresholds - Contract Negotiations

98 What Authors Should and Should Not Expect from Publishers

100 What Your Publisher Should and Should Not Expect from You

101 The Publishing Time Lineup

106 Pre-Publication Marketing and Promotion

Example: Building a Fan Base

113 Book Development

Editing - Layout, Art, and Typesetting - Printing and Binding - Bluelines, Galleys, ARCs, and Production - Initial Printing

124 E-Books

126 Publication

127 Post-Publication Marketing and Promotion

Author Events

140 Bookstores

The Business of Selling Books

143 Contract Termination

145 Conclusion

146 Hyperlink Index

152 Index

What People are Saying About This

Lesley Wolfe

"This is the truth every writer needs to know!"--(Lesley Wolfe, Dancing Lemur Press)

John Joyce

"Essential Guide to the Modern Publishing Industry

In a world where over 20 million manuscripts in circulation each year in US publishing houses alone and each manuscript has at most only six minutes of a publisher's time to be accepted or rejected, Blow Us Away! Publishers' Secrets for Successful Manuscripts by E. Keith Howick Jr. must rank as the number one "must get" book for any aspiring author.

Based on the premise that publishing is an industry like any other, this book provides a treasure chest of vital information to authors at all levels on subjects ranging from manuscript presentation, understanding target audiences, layout, marketing and publicity. Most valuable of all however, is that this book is written by a publisher who knows his industry inside out and can communicate what he knows in a concise and easy to follow style.

According to Howick, authors that treat authorship as a career and not a hobby stand the greatest chance of success, and that success comes from understanding what their target audiences want and "presenting" it to them in the most professional way possible. He then proceeds to give a series of specific recommendations on how to do just that, accompanied by useful references and hyperlinks, as well as a "timeline" that takes the author from the date of a contract being signed to the date of publication - a startling 59 weeks in all!

Bang up to date, with detailed sections on eBooks, Print on Demand and even the new "Expresso Machine" for creating individual printed paperbacks in-store using digital printing technology, this is THE essential "must have" book for authors and POD self-publishers alike. I only wish it hadbeen available when I started out."--(John Joyce, author of The Virtual Trilogy)

Henry Melton

"I had the opportunity to read Blow Us Away! Publishers' Secrets for Successful Manuscripts by E. Keith Howick, Jr. of WindRiver Publishing and it was a wonderful reference I sucked up at one sitting. This is an essential read for any author before putting together that submission to a publisher. Since I've been doing book submissions for years, it was a handy refresher for many things I've learned the hard way, and an eye-opener about many things I've missed.

There is so much that an author needs to know before writing that query letter, and this is the place to get it. For example, essential knowledge of the economics of publishing is a black art to most authors, but right at the beginning, Howick spells out the simple dollars and cents of how much money is made per book and how that drives the calculations of advances. The royalty section later on gives the same detailed breakdown that shines light on parts of the business that has been obscure to outsiders.

The book backs up his advice with copious links, both of the URL kind and the ISBN kind to expand on what he has just said, plus the it is nicely indexed, which will make it invaluable as a handy reference.

The components of a good book submission are broken down and each is given its due. For example, "find your target audience" is something every author has heard, but with this book's list of categories, and their buying habits, it will bring clarity to a task that often seems fuzzy and impossible.

As a small publisher myself, I'm tempted to make this book required reading for friends who have written a book and want me to help them get it into print. Even if a book is good, the backgroundinformation about the process of publication is critical to success.

And for me, written from the perspective of a traditional publisher, it's an eye-opening list of concerns for a self-publisher looking to expand beyond just publishing my own titles. I know I'll be referring to this book for a long time to come."--(Henry Melton, author of the Small Towns, Big Ideas series of YA science fiction and publisher of Wire Rim Books)

Maralyn D. Hill

"E. Keith Howick, Jr., President of WindRiver Publishing, certainly blew me away with Blow Us Away! As an author, editor and reviewer, I've read a dozen plus books on publishing, including one I co-authored, as well as more articles than I count. I've also attended and presented at writing conferences. Most books on writing have been written by authors themselves. Reading a publisher's explanation and insight brings you closer to the real publishing world.

Howick has invested many hours in helping authors understand what is acceptable and necessary for agents and publishers. He has reviewed thousands of manuscripts and is more than willing to share his knowledge. Because he continually sees the work of aspiring authors, he has put together a book of facts and guidelines that can be a tremendous tool.

According to Howick, "Publishers and agents . . . are frustrated by the average new author's lack of preparedness; 85% of manuscripts are rejected because the story, concept, or writing is bad. Thirteen percent are rejected because they aren't presented well to publishers."

The publisher/author reinforces that the rules of yesteryear do not apply today. In addition to understanding how the book industry functions, publishing over 200,000 titles a year, he stresses the importance exceptional writing and editing of good material and marketing as well as how the economy affects submissions.

His book covers pre-submission marketing and promotion, agents, submissions, advances and royalties and contracts. In addition, he thoroughly discusses what authors can expect from publishers and what they expect from authors. I found the book development section especiallyinformative.

Howick provides the perspective of small, medium and large publishers with clarity and concise descriptions. He says his book is only for the serious author. Here, I disagree. I feel the serious as well as the wannabe could gain insight into the real world of publishing so as to better prepare themselves for what path they should take.

The Hill Team does editing for authors who are generally independently published. When we feel someone should find an agent, we will recommend choices that are appropriate. Otherwise, we'll recommend reputable independent publishers. In any case, there is not an author we've met, traditionally or non-traditionally published, that would not benefit from Howick's straight forward, easy to understand explanation of the publishing industry and what it takes to be one of the 200,000 books a year that make the cut. So, from my perspective, Blow Us Away! has a value greater than the investment and I highly recommend it."--(Maralyn D. Hill, reviewer, editor, and co-author of Success, Your Path to a Successful Book)

Pete Masterson

"Blow Us Away! is like a Boot Camp in publishing that new authors must read. It delivers all the basics of publishing in the order that a first time author is most likely to encounter on the route to a successful publication."--(Pete Masterson, author of Book Design and Production: A Guide for Authors and Publishers)

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