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Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction and Get It Published
     

Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction and Get It Published

4.2 5
by Susan Rabiner, Alfred Fortunato
 

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Distilled wisdom from two publishing pros for every serious nonfiction author in search of big commercial success.

Over 50,000 books are published in America each year, the vast majority nonfiction. Even so, many writers are stymied in getting their books published, never mind gaining significant attention for their ideas—and substantial sales. This is

Overview

Distilled wisdom from two publishing pros for every serious nonfiction author in search of big commercial success.

Over 50,000 books are published in America each year, the vast majority nonfiction. Even so, many writers are stymied in getting their books published, never mind gaining significant attention for their ideas—and substantial sales. This is the book editors have been recommending to would-be authors. Filled with trade secrets, Thinking Like Your Editor explains:

• why every proposal should ask and answer five key questions;

• how to tailor academic writing to a general reader, without losing ideas or dumbing down your work;

• how to write a proposal that editors cannot ignore;

• why the most important chapter is your introduction;

• why "simple structure, complex ideas" is the mantra for creating serious nonfiction;

• why smart nonfiction editors regularly reject great writing but find new arguments irresistible.

Whatever the topic, from history to business, science to philosophy, law, or gender studies, this book is vital to every serious nonfiction writer.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
From a highly respected editor turned agent and her husband, a freelance writer, comes one of the most forthright books you will find on the publishing industry. Though concentrating on serious nonfiction, this book should be of interest to anyone who wonders how the publishing industry really works. For example, along with guidelines on how to write a proposal, the authors explain why proposals are so important, even beyond getting an editor's interest. It could be shown to a foreign rights person for projected income, for example, and later to a copywriter for the publisher's catalogue. What do agents do, anyway? How to superstore buyers decide which titles to stock? Should you be upset if your book gets only minimal editing?
[A]n excellent book, one of the best I've ever read on the art of serious nonfiction.
Iris Chang
[A]n excellent book, one of the best I've ever read on the art of serious nonfiction.
Hugh Van Dusen
In 45 years in publishing I have never read better advice than this book offers. Bravo!
Herbert P. Bix
[W]ill be the standard text for non-fiction authors.
Publishers Weekly
Two years ago, Betsy Lerner's The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers offered an editor's-eye guide to aspiring writers of nonfiction. Now come Rabiner, former Basic Books editorial director turned agent, and her husband, Fortunato, a freelance book editor and writer, covering some of the same territory, but also breaking new ground. Wannabe authors might be shocked to hear that a fine writing style usually plays only a tiny role in whether a proposal becomes a book. Instead, according to the authors, the freshness of ideas and the size of the potential audience drive the process the first three rules of book publishing, as stated here, are "audience, audience, audience." In part one, on submissions, the authors discuss how to put together a book proposal and, without sounding self-serving, whether to work through an agent or go solo. In part two, they move to the writing process. Especially welcome here is their discussion of research undergirding all writing: authors and publishers, they note, sometimes become too lax about accuracy in nonfiction. Part three discusses how authors and editors (both in-house and freelance) can work together well. They offer a necessary tonic in advice about the importance of establishing a good relationship with the editor from day one that includes an author understanding that the editor's world doesn't revolve around one book. A sample proposal accompanied by a sample chapter round out the book nicely. Hopeful writers will be the primary audience for this title, and they will find useful advice on every page, but a secondary audience could include avid consumers of nonfiction who want to understand why some ideas reach book form while others do not. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Rabiner, a former editorial director at Basic Books, and freelance editor Fortunato are now partners in the Susan Rabiner Literary Agency. Their book (like their agency) targets those who write serious or scholarly nonfiction but hope to reach a wide audience. They begin with the usual fantasy sequence, leading readers through a discussion about which publisher they should select for their work university press or other. The book then explains in detail why authors must do research and present balanced arguments in their writing and why they must also have tangible credibility but write with a sense of narrative to appeal to a wider audience. These are basics, stress the authors, that must be mastered before an aspiring writer can hope to start speculating about how to spend the advance. The authors advise writers to approach editors first and give tips on how to do so; agents, they explain, are readily acquired in the wake of success. Better than average, this title mostly avoids feeding fantasies in favor of detailing necessities. Robert Moore, Parexel Intl., Waltham, MA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Dale Maharidge
“Rabiner and Fortunato take you through the corporate Oz of the publishing world, behind the smoke and mirrors.”
Gerald Howard
“What a smart and useful book Thinking Like Your Editor is.”
John Paulos
“The path from good idea to great book is anything but a straight line, Rabiner and Fortunato know every precipice and crevice.”
Juliet B. Schor
“Likely to become the gold standard for anyone hoping to be successful in trade publishing.”
Laura N. Brown
“[S]hould be required reading for any writer of serious nonfiction.”
Sara Bershtel
“This smart, straight-talking, profoundly encouraging book is an invaluable guide for authors and editors alike.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393340211
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
09/27/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
765,383
File size:
346 KB

What People are Saying About This

Iris Chang
Thinking Like Your Editor is one of the best I've ever read on the art of serious nonfiction, and Susan Rabiner is a modern-day Maxwell Perkins who deserves her place in the pantheon of great American nonfiction editors. Rabiner and Fortunato blend practical and intellectual advice with true Renaissance spirit- an idealistic urge to elevate books to the highest standards of literature, without sacrificing any integrity of scholarship-Iris Chang, author of The Rape of Nanking
George L. Gibson
Susan Rabiner was one of the finest editors in publishing and is now one of the finest agents. This guide to succeeding with nonfiction is every bit as good as her submission letters: the best in the business-George L. Gibson, President and Publisher, Walker & Company
Dale Maharidge
Rabiner and Fortunato take you through the corporate Oz of the publishing world, behind the smoke and mirrors, yet leave you with your creative heart intact-Dale Maharidge, Stanford School of Journalism, author of And Their Children After Them, winner of the 1990 Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction
Laura N. Brown
Thinking Like Your Editor should be required reading for any writer of serious nonfiction. This insider's look at how publishing decisions are really made is unerringly accurate. The step-by-step advice on how to write a great proposal (and the book that follows) is invaluable. And the wisdom distilled from twenty years of helping serious writers to think more clearly and write more accessibly is evident on every page. Any scholar hoping to reach a wider audience of readers should spend an afternoon with Rabiner and Fortunato-Laura N. Brown, President, Oxford University Press USA
John Paulos
The path from good idea to great book is anything but a straight line, and Rabiner and Fortunato know every precipice and crevice along the way. By following the cairns laid out in Thinking Like Your Editor the non-fiction author is much more likely to arrive at his destination than by picking his own way over the rocks.-John Paulos, Professor of Mathematics at Temple Univesity, author of A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper and Innumeracy

Meet the Author

Susan Rabiner is the former editorial director of Basic Books. She was a senior editor at Oxford University Press and Pantheon Books.
Alfred Fortunato is a freelance editor and writer.

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Thinking like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction and Get It Published 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book if you thinking about writing a serious nonfiction book for the general trade market. The authors show the reader how to craft a proposal and outline a book that will appeal to both editors and intelligent readers. In addition, they give the reader all the necessary information, from finding a publisher or agent to dealing with an edited manuscript. The only problem is the sample proposal at the end of the book -- it is so well-written (the author of the proposal earned a Pulitzer Prize) it risks giving the reader writer's block. Seriously, this is a perfect book for anyone new to publishing and for those helping anyone new to publishing -- get published.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The authors do a very good job of showing how to get a manuscript ready and presenting it to an editor or agent. It uses step by step advice with an appendix that includes actual examples. It would be helpful for independent writers or undergrad or graduate level students who are looking to publish their theses. Their experience in both agency and editing gives it real authority.
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