But first, the publishing stories worth reading this week:
The Elements of Style (Stefan Beck for The Wall Street Journal): Hat tip to Jarrett for telling me about How to Write Like Tolstoy, a new craft-of-writing book coming out. As the WSJ puts it: “Part of the value of a college education is that it alerts the autodidact to his embarrassing blind spots. This book is a decent substitute.” Well, that sounds essential, doesn’t it?
How to Read Critically and Become a Better Author (Kristen Kieffer of She’s Novel): “Just as writers create books, books are integral to the creation of writers. Think about it: would you be a writer today if you hadn’t first fallen in love with reading? Books can make an incredible impact on writers. And this impact? It thrives when you read critically.”
The Rise of Plagiarism in the Age of Self-Publishing (Joy Lanzendorfer for The Atlantic): A fascinating look at how and why plagiarism happens: “Some observers believed Harner resorted to plagiarism to keep her rankings up, Carew said. Before she was caught, Harner was considered unusually prolific, producing 75 novels in five years. Amazon rewards writers who come out with new books quickly by putting them higher in the rankings, which in turn means more sales. This policy also puts pressure on authors to write more to maintain visibility and to offset the dropping price of ebooks. ‘This may sound crazy, but I have 18 releases planned for this year,’ Carew said. ‘In order to survive, I have to put out as many books as I can … If you’re living on your writing like I am, the stress can get to you.'”
Traveling Salesman (Roy Blount, Jr. in Garden & Gun): If you want to have a good giggle about the very ridiculousness that is selling books for a living, take a minute with this Roy Blount, Jr. piece.
A Behind-the-Scenes Look at What Makes Proposals Rise to the Top of the Stack
I’m very happy to have Chad Allen on the blog today to talk to us about how he reviews proposals and acquires books. He’s also going to give us an inside look at how editors pitch books to their own teams (because yes, every editor has to learn the art of the pitch, too!).
Chad is a writer, editor, and creativity coach. He’s also the creator of Book Proposal Academy, an online course that helps nonfiction writers craft winning book proposals. He serves as an editorial director for Baker Publishing Group, an independently owned faith-based publisher in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You’ll find him blogging at www.chadrallen.com.
Over to you, Chad!
This year I will review well over a hundred book proposals, and my personal goal is to acquire at least fifteen high-quality original books within the year.
Just because I present a book in pub board does not mean I’ll acquire it because other publishers will also be pursuing it. Assuming a 50 percent success rate, I need to pick about 30 books to bring to pub board. Other editors may review hundreds of book proposals and have a goal of acquiring more or fewer books, but at least in trade publishing I doubt the math I’ve laid out here changes much from house to house or editor to editor.
We review a humongous number of book proposals and try to acquire a fraction of them.
So how can a writer make sure their book proposal rises to the top of the stack? In this article I’m going to share exactly how I review a book proposal and how you the writer can make sure I keep reading. That should be the goal, by the way: keep us reading. Here we go: