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Bookselling

Experts Break Down the Elements of a Nonfiction Book Proposal

book-proposal-2_articleAs part of this week’s Profit From Your Passion series, yesterday we offered advice on how to get your book proposal off the ground. Now that you’ve got an outline in your head for your nonfiction book idea, the next step toward attracting a publisher is to sit down and compose the formal proposal. Although easier said than done, the process can actually help you narrow your focus, determine what your unique angle is — and help you stay organized.

We talked to seasoned writers, agents and editors about the basic elements of a nonfiction book proposal, mistakes to avoid and more. The takeaway is that your book proposal shouldn’t be taken lightly:

One thing [Brian Klems, author and online editor for Writer’s Digest] wishes he’d known ahead of time was that writing the proposal, even after having done most of the research, takes a really long time. “I thought the hard part would be writing the book, and that I’d knock out the proposal in one night. A friend of mine said no, don’t do that… don’t hand it in, give it a couple of days to sit down and start going over it. This is your one shot, you want to get it as right as possible.” In light of how we writers tend to be perfectionists, however, he adds, “You always feel like you can improve, but at that point, you do have to cut yourself off and say, it’s time for me to put it out there.”

For more information on how to write a compelling nonfiction book proposal, read: Getting Started on Your Nonfiction Book Proposal.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

How to Get Your Book Proposal Off the Ground

a12000So you’ve got a great idea for a book. Congrats! Before you plunge right in, you’ll want to take some time to craft a book proposal. A few questions to ask yourself: Do you have some knowledge of the publishing industry? Could you be considered an authority on the subject of your book? Are you ready to wholeheartedly promote your book for about a year following its release?

In the third week of Mediabistro’s Profit From Your Passion series, we talk to three leading industry experts, who discuss the various stages of the book-proposal process.

Rachelle Gardner, literary agent at Books & Such, states that you’re likely ready to write a book when you’ve spent years “thinking about [your topic], studying it, writing about it, both in your personal journals and in public spaces, possibly speaking to audiences about it, getting a degree in it or building a career around it.” Your own expertise is an essential selling point in the eyes of an agent or editor. Gardner adds, “You’re ready to write a book when you know what everyone else is writing about your topic, and you are confident that you have something fresh to add to the conversation.”

For more information on the book-proposal process, read: Laying the Groundwork for Your Book Proposal.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

Dan Brown’s ‘Inferno’ Was The Bestselling Book of 2013: USA Today

inferno304Dan Brown‘s Inferno was the bestselling book of 2013, according to USA Today‘s Bestsellers list which tracked book sales in the US from Dec. 31, 2012-Dec. 29, 2013.

Divergent by Veronica Roth was No. 2 on the list. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney reached No. 3 on the list. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks was No. 4 and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green was the No. 5 bestselling book of the year.

Here is more from USA Today:

Of the best sellers tracked by USA TODAY each week, 80% were fiction. That’s the highest since the list was begun in 1993, breaking 2011′s record of 78%. The top non-fiction book of 2013 at No. 9 was Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. Their 2012 book, Killing Kennedy, continued to sell last year, finishing at No. 61.

Author Elizabeth Cody Kimmel is Fundraising For Indie Bookstore Owner’s Cancer Treatment

scottmeyerYA author Elizabeth Cody Kimmel has launched a fundraising campaign to help independent bookseller Scott Meyer pay for his cancer treatments.

“The average out-of-pocket expenses for an insured cancer patient can exceed over $1,000 a month,” she explained in a statement. “The thought of how the family will pay for medical bills, living expenses and college costs while keeping Merritt Books open should be the last thing on their minds, as they focus on getting Scott through the next step, which is radiation treatment.”

Kimmel has created the “Book Lovers for Scott” fund through Giveforward.com to help collection donations for the Meyer family. Here is more about Meyer’s role in the book community from the crowd funding page: Read more

Readers Descend Upon UK Bookstore That Reports Sluggish Sales on Facebook

saltairebookshopA book store owner in the UK took to his store’s Facebook fan page to seek pity for the store’s dismal sales, and the post actually helped bring paying customers into the shop. The owner of the Saltaire Book Shop posted this cry for help on January 10th:

URGENT! We need customers. Yesterday the shop took £7.50 (that’s about minus 50 after cost of books and heating) and the day before £13 (about £6 after books and heating). Today we have so far taken £6 (about £2). It’s clear this cant keep going on like this and there is a serious question mark over the future of the shop. If you want Saltaire Bookshop PLEASE tell all your friends about us and get them to spend money in the shop (people putting up posters or trying to sell me books dont count!). This is an urgent appeal. The roadworks and blocked pavements before Xmas meant our trade was down 50%. Read more

Brazil Offers Publishers a Great Opportunity For Global Sales: Nielsen

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 2.06.09 PMMature markets are in decline and global growth will come from developing markets and growing middle classes, said Jonathan Nowell, president of Nielsen Book at the Digital Book World conference in New York today.

In his talk, Nowell spoke about the opportunity for publishers to sell books in Brazil. The country has the sixth largest economy in the world and a $1.2 billion publishing business. Brazilians are rapidly learning how to speak English and they are focusing on literacy rights. This is supported by a burgeoning middle class, and a strong government investment in supporting reading. There is also a strong desire to self-educate in the country.

Brazilians are big on books about religion. Last  year, 5 of top ten titles sold in the country were religious. However Dan Brown and EL James also made the top 10, reflecting the juxtaposition of erotica and religion in Brazil.

Simon & Schuster Sold eBooks in 200 Countries Last Year

simonSimon & Schuster experienced its greatest growth in the international marketplace last year, particularly in digital titles in English language countries abroad, according to Carolyn Reidy, President & CEO, who spoke on a panel at the Digital Book World conference in New York today.

The publisher’s international eBook business is growing at a faster rate than US eBook sales, because these countries are catching up, she said. Last year, the publisher sold eBooks in 200 different countries including a copy of The Sun Also Rises in Antarctica. Reidy said that the publisher is seeing an opportunity in these digital sales and that it is not affecting physical sales. She said that there is a great opportunity for foreign book retailers to sell English-language titles in non-English speaking countries, but they have yet to capitalize on this yet.

Read more

French Senate Considers Banning Free Book Delivery

franceOne of Amazon’s many secrets to success is the ability to deliver books for free to customers that spend a minimum amount of money per order or to those that are members of Amazon Prime. The French government could take away this customer service perk.

The French Senate is considering legislation that would make it illegal to offer free book deliveries in France. The country already has strict rules limiting discounting on books, a law designed to protect publishers and small booksellers.

The Associated Press has more:

In essence, the Senate proposal would strip some of the convenience and financial advantage of home or office delivery of books ordered online. Ultimately, if approved, the legislation could weigh on the minds of customers when they decide whether to trek over to mom-and-pop bookshops instead of shopping online. The bill would allow online vendors like U.S.-based Amazon to cut the regular delivery price by up to 5 percent — but not provide free delivery. It differs slightly from a bill passed in the National Assembly, parliament’s lower house, in October, which said nothing about barring free delivery.

The Science Behind a Bestseller

books304Scientists from Stony Brook University in New York have concocted a test to help define if a book will become a bestseller.

As absurd as it sounds, the researchers created an algorithm to analyzed the words in classic texts from across genres and compared their findings to historically successful work to come up with a recipe for what makes a book sell.

The Telegraph has the story:

They found several trends that were often found in successful books, including heavy use of conjunctions such as “and” and “but” and large numbers of nouns and adjectives. Less successful work tended to include more verbs and adverbs and relied on words that explicitly describe actions and emotions such as “wanted”, “took” or “promised”, while more successful books favoured verbs that describe thought processes such as “recognised” or “remembered”.

Rejection Letters Received by Bestselling Authors

try-againDon’t feel badly if your book has been rejected. It’s happened to the best writers.

Alfred Knopf rejected George Orwell’s Animal Farm, on the grounds that it was “impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A.” An agent told William Golding that Lord of the Files was “an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.”

Mental Floss has put together an enlightening list of rejection letters from famous authors for acclaimed works. Check it out:

When Rand sent her manuscript out for The Fountainhead, a request from Bobbs-Merrill for her next work-in-progress came back with a curt “Unsaleable and unpublishable.” Not to be deterred, the author called upon Hiram Haydn, newly appointed editor-in-chief of Random House. After an “infinite number” of questions and an assurance that Ms. Rand would not be censored, she signed on with Random House and, to date, has sold over 7 million copies in the U.S.

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