How do I find a publisher for my book?
Dave, I'm preparing a proposal for a book about a promising new
Open Source technology, and would like to get suggestions for a suitable publisher. How do you identify a possible publisher for a new book, and then how do you approach them with an actual book project?
First off, I'm glad that you're preparing a proposal rather than trying to shop around an already-written book. In my experience with over a dozen different publishers, trying to find someone to publish an already-written book is considerably more difficult because each publisher has their own preferred style and format into which you end up having to recast your manuscript.
As a general rule of thumb, I always encourage you to look for publishers that have had success with similar titles, rather than trying to convince a publisher unfamiliar with that market segment. Selling a technical book about open source software, for example, is quite different to selling an intro book on Windows XP!
Then there's the whole question of book production too: a technical book requires a different and more accurate editorial cycle than a more theoretical book. If the book includes specific lines of code or program snippets, someone is going to have to double check that everything works correctly (that's the technical editor), a requirement that isn't there on most books. For the same reason, the development editor and copy editor need to be familiar with more technical titles too, or your carefully crafted code examples will be reformatted to fit some layout requirement and end up broken. (I have heard stories of overzealous editors fixing grammar in software listings, for example, or changing quotes to match a standard English usage style, even though in almost all languages a single, double and back quote are dramatically different, not to mention the confusion from turning straight quotes into so-called smart quotes!)
To find these publishers, either go a local bookstore that has a strong technical books section (there are still a few left, like Nerdbooks in Dallas, Texas and SoftPro Books in Waltham, MA and Denver, CO) and ask the person who purchases related titles (in your case, that'd be open source titles) about what publishers have the most interesting books, sell the most, and are easiest to work with. That'll be great data, and you might even ask if they can make an introduction to someone at the publisher too.
If you don't have that option, you can use Amazon.com to do some research too: search for related titles, then note the publishers. Probably you'll see O'Reilly Media, CRC Press, Prentice Hall, Digital Press, etc., since the more well-known publishers tend to stay focused on more consumer-oriented works. Pick the two or three that sound the most promising (or pick 'em randomly just to get started), then use Google to find their individual Web sites.
All tech publishers are delighted to get unsolicited proposals, so it's a sure bet that they'll have "become an author" or similar links on their site that lead to extensive discussions of what they seek in a book project. For example, buried on the bottom left of their busy home page, O'Reilly Media has a link to "write for us" that's well worth reading.
O'Reilly offers some invaluable advice on how to send in a proposal too:
Your query or proposal should include information about why you are uniquely qualified to write the O'Reilly book on the topic. This might include a description of your technical experience as well as your experience as a writer. We receive thousands of query letters and unsolicited proposals each year, and without this kind of information, we really can't respond properly. Oh, and be sure to use a descriptive subject-line. A sure way to get your proposal left at the bottom of an editor's inbox is to use the subject "Book proposal" without saying what the proposal is for!
When I send in a proposal, I tend to include no more than a single paragraph about the actual book I am interested in writing so that I don't waste anyone's time with too much information. If the short description is engaging, then they'll respond favorably, inviting you to send them a full proposal. If they aren't interested, you might ask yourself why rather than just crossing them off your list. Is the title not marketable? Is the product you want to write about unpopular or eclipsed by a new system? Did you have an incoherent proposal message? Do they already have a book on the subject or - though you couldn't know this - a book in production?
Always make sure to explicitly copyright anything you submit too. I had a very bad experience when I was first starting as a writer where a publisher asked me to submit a full expanded proposal (which has about 1/3-1/2 page description of each chapter) and then promptly told me they didn't want to proceed with the book, hired a freelance writer to produce the book from my outline, then published the book I had proposed in the first place. You do not want that to happen with your book idea!
Anyway, those steps should get you started. If you have specific questions about contracts, contract terms, negotiations, etc., please don't hesitate to come back and Ask Dave Taylor!.
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Reader Comments To Date: 42
My desire is to write and publish a series of childrens books. I have the first book done, but now I do not know what to do next. I am a first time author. There are so many publisher ads online and want to find the best one for me. Can you please offer a suggestion as to whom to contact and how to get my book published? I look forward to hearing from you.
Hi Linda. Children's publishing is, as far as I am aware, one of the very toughest markets to get into. I have a children's book of my own that I've been trying to find an illustrator for, and I've talked with a number of agents all of whom basically say "give up", in so many words. :-|
No good advice, but if YOU find something great, I'd sure love to know about it!
Oh, you can read my children's story at my Attachment Parenting site too: http;//www.apparenting.com/
Hi, I am wondering how to actually get the work copywrited before you send it in. The book is not yet finished, does that matter?
My book is about poetry. Should I also send my book title for copyright also.
I am currently writing the true story of an Ethiopian Refugee and is amazing experiences. Where would I start lokking for a publisher?
I like to publish a book about my life because so many people asking me to do? but my English grammar is not perfect I am artist I can layout or make nice cover for my book, my life is all about to born in poor family in Iran had racist crazy father was police...then my mom die when she young, ...I go to war Iran and Iraq I wounded close to die....I lost my brother in war....then father die....awarded and help by US embassy to move as professional artist...stay hard life in Istanbul....in los angeles....and became homeless in canada....over 5 times....all this life story can be interesting to people know about artist and former revolutionary guard try to change his life and move in north America and get sucks from Canadian and racism...please inform me
I have lots of written documents based on a true story. I call it my daily journal which I have be documenting since 2002.A spirit came to my life in 2002. First I thought this could not be true there is no such thing as spirit comunicating with people.He said he is the God but many people thought he was a thing of the past, he is alife in spirit form he said. Then the most funny thing happened,the spirit became abusive toward me and my family daily doing all kinds of things to us in abusive way. l called a priest to my home to pray and bless my home with holy water and salt. The priest also took me to the alta in church to pray for me and for my family and demand for the spirit to stay away from my family and I. The spirit said he is the one and only God. My question is if this spirit is the one and only God why is he abusive toward me and my family? According to the Bible isn't God suppose to be a loving God to all mankind.
I have written documents of the things spirit does to me and to my family daily since 2002. I gave some of the documents to my Ppriest and he was shock after reading it. My question is how can I publish my documents and how can I find a publisher for my true story?
I am Nigerian and currently working on a book that deals with widowhood rituals, and think you can recommend a good publiisher in Britain, Canada and USA. Please help.
I am writing short humorous pieces about being a Belgian woman (me) being married into an Irish family. I am just trying to find a magazine/paper who I could approach with my idea for a column, can you advise me on how to go about it? Thanks!
First im only fourteen but writeings in my blood. Iv'e writen a book intitld Hero's Quast. It takes place in the year 2036 when a group of heros have to fight to save all thats left of the world. I've my friends and family they told me that is was good so i want to take a shot and try to publish it the only promblem i dont know how... So i guess I want to know if you can spare me some advice and how to get started. Sincerly Alan
I am fourteen and currently working on two books, one on my own and one with a frend I have gotten pretty far but i need to find a publisher and i have no idea how any of it works yet. So I have been searching help agian i have no idea how it works and I need general info. Everyone has to start somewhere right? Thanks,
MY book is about what every young teen wants to beleive in and what every adult forgotten
i have a collection of poetry and a film that i want to sell,how do i go about this .i basically need a publisher and possibly a film producer to work with.how do i possibly get this goal achieved.
I am interested to sending by e.mail for publish in your publisher, can i send?
could you please publish my book free?
Peof. Ali Aberoumand
i am rahul patel from baroda,
i will published my book.
and this book name is "ANOKHI LOVE STORY"
THIS BOOK IS FULL OF MY LIFE EXPRIENCE IN LOVE.
How do I get copy right for a finished manuscript?
Thanks 4 ur effort. I am an undergraduate working on how to find true happiness. How can I find a good publisher who can buy the script and pay me?
I want to publish a book on true happiness. How do I get a publisher who buy the book from me?
Hi im 13 years old(well soon i will be) and i want to publish my book i write lots of storys that i want people so see and buy so if you can hhelp me please email me at email@example.com please i really need your help!!!
I want to publish my book which is based on french language croswords, word search and picture puzzles. It contains around 100 of them and the book is completed. How can I find good publisher to publish my book.
Hi. I am a first time write. I am in a middle of a writting a romance novel. I would like to know if anyone knows a good publisher?
I am totally stoked on your site! I have written my memoiers, "Getting High Through The Sixties and Seventies With The ZigMeister."
I am insane about Boomers loving my book about love, and flowers, and free love, and getting high, man.
It's about getting high in the 60's man. It was the 60's, man. The freaking 60's MAN! You don't know what it was like, man, it was crazy, man. It was the 60's MAN!! THE 60's!!!! It was the 60's, man, it was the 60's. You had to be there, man. You had to be there. It was the 60,s MAN!!! THE FREAKING 60's!!!!
I wish to find a good publisher for my book, "The Damned." it is about shapeshifting, winged kids, phychics, elementals and supernatural/mythical creatures. both me and a friend are searching for publishing in Canada. more specifically Ontario. My friends story is about physhic powers. We are both young writers. (grade seven and eight) yet our stories are quite advanced for our age. How should we find a good publisher?
I've been a writer at heart ever since I can remember. I have written a few books, but I hardly ever finish them because I feel as if I have no drive to complete them. I think that if I got a publisher, I would have reason to want to finish a book. Mostly I write books that I hope will catch the eye of teenagers, considering I am a teenager myself. I do have a few questions about all of this, so if you could email me that would be great!
Thanks for your note, Katie. I have to say that as a publisher I would be leery about an author that says they'd finish their book if they only had a reason to. Sounds too much like it just won't get done. :-)
In terms of other questions, just ask 'em here so everyone can share in the discussion.
i have an autobiography and i want someone to publish it for me and maybe in future make it into a movie.contact me soon dave.
Ok well I'm 11 and I'm writing so many stories. I feel that my true calling in life is to be a writer and make books and stuff. My teachers in school have told me that I'm an excellent writer and that I should write my own book. Well I'm doing exactly that and I have decided to start writing. I'm almost done with one I'm writing and I just started another. I have already got the titles of the two books and stuff and a biography about me so people know who I am and not just some silly young girl who just wants toget noticed. So anyway what happens when I'm done writing my two books or one? What do I have to do? Whats the next step of making my book? I've been going on a bunch of wedsited to see what I can do and whats the next step, but just cant seem to find any information. Can u please help me? Maybe give me a link to a good website to help me with my career. I want to start as soon as possible. I love to write so much. No one knows how much I love writing. I just want to make my first book so I can be noticed as a young firl that has a passion for writing. Please help me.
I have a manuscript on ancient African secret society and the society around them. Is there a way you go through it and see if you can publish it
I am only ten years old, and I really want my book published. I have a lot of other children's book too.
I am only ten years old, and I really want my book published. I have a lot of other children's book too.
hope u r doing great..
i have written a story...its actually a true story
can u please read it once and tell me is it nice...
I have written a fantasy book about Wolves with Supernatural powers that come from the phases of the moon. Its completly finished and I want to get it publshed. Can you tell me who would be good to get it published with?
I love writing stories in my spare time but dont know where to send them to get them published please could you get back to me so I can send them to a publisher
I love writing stories, but i dont know how to start and if i'm a good writer.
i am writting a nfuuny storey whose name is THE DIARY OF A SECRETIVE BOY its just like wimpy kid and i would be glad if you publish it
I have written 3 fiction manuscripts,im looking for the right publisher to help me decide which book to launch 1st. I need to find and seat down with a serious straight to the point company that can give me proper guidance
I need guidance,any suggestions? is publishing an e-book a good idea?
i losst my pasword and security quetion so how can i have recuvery my password
I am starting to write my book. How can I find a publisher after I am done? What will be my next steps. Thank You.
Hi my name is Ely and I was just wondering how would I find a book publisher. Cause I have a binder full of information about the 50 states like there capitals, largest city's, population, area, history, flags, etc. I would like to make it into a book for kids. I also write, I have wrote about the Mexican war, hurricanes, tornadoes, all kinds of stuff. I wish that I could have the opportunity to show people what I know and have learned. I have been doing this for the past 9 years and I just would love to do something with it. So if you have any suggestions or comments about what I can or should do please contact me at my email: e.Verduzco8824@gmail.com. Thanks and hope to hear from you soon.
I do have a lot to say, and questions of my own for that matter, but first I'd like to say thank you, Dave, for all your helpful information by
buying you a cup of coffee!||
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