Uncover the secrets of how to publish a book and realise your author ambitions. Get insider tips from Amy Christian, commissioning editor of Pavilion Books (Mollie Makes’ book publisher).
As a creative, coming up with new ideas is like second nature to you. If one of your creative goals is to get published, then read Pavilion commissioning editor, Amy’s tips on how to land yourself a book deal…
1. Don’t be afraid to submit a proposal
I have met lots of authors who have had brilliant proposals sitting on their laptops for months or even years without taking any action – my advice is to bite the bullet and go for it! Different publishers have their own submission guidelines but at Pavilion we are very happy to receive proposals direct from potential authors. Writing a book is a lot of work, so you should think carefully about whether you have the capacity to take on the commitment. If you have a fantastic idea nagging away at you, and you do feel that you can manage the extra workload, preparing a book proposal is a great way of working through your ideas.
2. Do your research
Make sure you are sending your book proposal to publishers who are working in the relevant area. Have a look on your own bookshelves – who publishes your favourite books? It is also worth going in to a bookshop and taking a good look at the craft section. Pull out books that you like the look of and find out who publishes them. Check company websites for submission guidelines. Make a quick call to find out the name of the Commissioning Editor that you should be targeting. Most publishers prefer to receive submissions by email. Make sure that your attachments are not too big to get through mail filters, and try not to send multiple emails.
3. Sell us yourself as well as your idea
When you submit your proposal, make sure that you include enough information about you as well as your book idea. What writing or craft experience do you have? Have you shown your work at any exhibitions? Have you taught workshops? Have you done anything else that might come in useful when writing or promoting a book – for example styling, graphic design or any form of public speaking?
You should be able to explain your book idea in a few short lines. If you can’t, then your concept is probably too complicated. Think of a title for your book, and if possible, provide a contents list and a sample chapter or project, including photographs of your work. Think about what you want the finished book to look like – what sort of images would you like the book to contain? Will it have illustrations or photography or both? Are there any additional elements required, for example charts or diagrams?
4. Tell us how we can sell your book
Next, tell us why your book will be a success. Do you have a specific customer in mind – if so, describe them to us. Look at what else is on the market and tell us how your book fits in to the marketplace, and most importantly, what makes it different to the other books that are already available. How can you help to promote the book? Do you have a blog or a website? Do you work in a shop or have one of your own where you can sell copies of the book? How do you use social media – give your statistics if you have built up an impressive following. Once you’ve explained how you can promote the book, think about other people you know. Do you have any useful contacts that could help? They could be journalists, bloggers, fellow crafters, or even celebrity fans. The craft book market is very competitive, so you need to stand out in any way that you can.
5. It doesn’t happen overnight
Be patient. You may not hear back from a publisher straight away but that doesn’t mean you should give up. As a Commissioning Editor, I will always do my own research into an area before making a decision about a proposal. If I think it is a strong idea, I then have to sell it to our sales and marketing teams, at a series of internal meetings. This all takes time. We put a lot of work into the books we publish, so we want to make absolutely sure that we are choosing the right authors to back.