That will depend largely on your curso de milagros Here’s where you demonstrate persuasively that your idea has merit, and that the company will benefit from publishing your book. Of course, even a solid idea and a great book proposal can’t guarantee success, but they surely can tip the odds in your favor. But if either the idea or the proposal is weak, your chances of a sale are slim to none.
Book editors look for certain things when reviewing book ideas and proposals. To improve your chances of winning a book publisher’s contract, let’s look at the five key questions they ask and the best ways to answer them.
1. Is there a large enough audience interested in this topic to justify publishing a book?
You want to stay away from a highly specialized book, which draws limited audience. You want your book to be among the books that appeal to a general audience or at least to a large segment of the general population. You must demonstrate to your prospective publishing agent that your large audience – of hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions – exists.
One excellent source of market data is Standard Rate and Data Service (SRDS), a book listing US magazines that accept advertising and their circulations. SRDS is available at your local library or from the publisher (tel. 847/375-5000). Look for the combined circulation of the largest publications in your book’s area.
However, keep in mind that only a small percentage of the intended audience will actually buy your book. And a major book publishing company hopes to sell at least 5,000 copies of your book. So if you’re writing a book that appeals only to the 44,171 branch managers working at banks nationwide (say, How to Manage Your Branch More Efficiently), and 2% can be persuaded to buy the book, you’ve sold only 883 copies – not nearly enough to make the project worthwhile for either you or a publisher.
2. Is this a book or a magazine article? Will it sell?
There are two substantial differences between a book and a magazine article, which will determine if the material you have will be accepted by a book publisher.
First, there is the matter of time: It can take 18 months to two years from conception to bookstore. If you have an idea for a book about Recession proof Business at the onset of a recession, like I had in 1991, that recession may be over by the time the book comes out and it would not sell. However, a magazine article’s time line of publication (or that of a small booklet) is much quicker (weeks to few months).
Second difference is in length: Do you have enough material for a book? The average nonfiction book is about 200 pages in published form, with approximately 400 words a page. That’s 80,000 words; about 320 double-spaced typewritten manuscript pages. Most books range between 35,000 words (a slim, 100 pages volume) to 200,000 words or more. An article, on the other hand, can include anywhere from 300 to 2,500 words or so.
How do you know whether your idea is a book, article or booklet – and how do you convince a publishing agent that your concept is a big one? Here are some guidelines:
First, see if there are other books on the topic. The existence of a few similar titles indicates that this idea is big enough to deserve a book.
Second, go to the library and see what else is written on the topic. If you feel overwhelmed by all the magazine articles, newspaper stories, booklets, pamphlets, surveys, reports and statistics on your topic, that’s a good indica¬tion the topic is ‘meaty” enough to justify a full-length book.
Third, organize your information into chapters. Think about how you would logically explain your topic or present your information, and organize it into major categories. These will become chapter headings.
A full-length nonfiction book typically has 8-15 chapters. If your outline has fewer, the publisher may think there’s not enough information to fill a book on your topic. Shoot for an outline with at least nine chapters. A detailed table of contents proves to the book publishing company that your topic is appropriate for a book, not just a magazine article.