Originally Posted by NickSoulsby
Morning Severian, as a first step, get a copy of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook - it's really helpful in terms of process. So, first thing: publishers do not read manuscripts from writers - it takes a lot of time, it costs them money. They've more or less outsourced that work to agents. Agents will take a 15% cut (which given how tiny book advances are unless you're a celebrity is a pittance) and they're the people who speak to the editors at publishers - finding one with the right focus makes a real difference. The agent will employ freelance readers who will advise them if your proposal is worth a shot - the proposal is the key; it has to be exactly as they ask on their website or they'll usually turn it down because it means they can't trust someone to respect the relationship.
As part of a proposal, one section is the 'biography' where you, briefly, describe why you're the person to write this book, what it is about you that gives you the credibility - so, yeah, a background in journalism helps for sure. And don't be shy about making the most of your experience (not lying but don't hide either.) In my case, I have a normal day job, I work a full day, I write in the evenings - this whole Thurston book was done between spring of 2015 and summer of 2016 entirely at night. Showing a record of writing (self-publishing, etc.) can help; showing that you have an expertise and an audience in a field (in my case, the Nirvana-Legacy blog); social media presence (i.e., FB, Twitter, etc. with a fair follower number, etc.) coming to them with a solid and exciting proposal; being able to show them you have most of the work done so it's a fairly safe bet... It helps.
This is excellent! Just excellent. Thank you!
Now, if you could just go ahead and hop back in time and unwrite this Thurston book so I can steal the zeal and goodwill of your agent and publisher for my
book about Thurston, that would just be great.
Seriously though, I appreciate the advice. This is a part of the industry I'm utterly unfamiliar with, despite being from a family of academics, journalists, etc., many of whom have written books over the years, but have never had something published outside of their respective disciplines. I do have an uncle who worked as an agent before becoming an editor for a major U.S. publisher, but he's in his 70s, retired, and likely at least a bit senile. So playing the good old nepotism card is almost certainly a no-go.
I may pm you, if you don't mind, with a few follow-ups. But I don't want to make other users wade through that self-serving garbage in this thread, which, it turns out, is devoted to... you!
By the way, I think it's very cool that you chose to register on the board and comment on this thread. I love that element of the dynamic here at SYG. Lee will turn up every once in a while to say something — make a little announcement or clarify something. That just really adds to the sense of community surrounding SY.
I look forward to reading the absolute shit out of your book, and I actually think that focusing exclusively on Thurston will make for a more interesting read for the hardcore fans, who have indeed read a great deal about the SY albums over the years, but have never really been given the chance to dig deep into Thurston's music specifically.
Are you into doing signed copies for super special people like us, who might feel that having such a thing is necessary or essential?