How to Get a Book Published
      In 10 not-so-easy steps

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4. Do some market research

Jorge Luis Borges wrote a story about Pierre Menard, "author of the Quixote." The story tells how Menard recreated Cervantes's work word-for-word — not by copying it but as an independent original creation. According to Borges, Menard's feat was greater than Cervantes's.

But his book would be unpublishable.

You've got to know your market, especially in nonfiction. Finding out how your topic is covered in the marketplace will help you to find your niche. It will help you get to know your audience and what they want to know. You should do some market research early on in your planning.

That means visiting libraries and bookstores. What aspects of your subject have been covered, and how well? Has new information caused existing material to become outdated? Which books have gone out of print? (These days there aren't many books that stay in print for very long.) How are the books formatted and priced? If there's a big art book on the subject, maybe the market can bear a low-cost introductory text, for example. Or maybe the general outlines of a topic have been covered but there are specific subcategories that would find an audience.

Market research is more difficult with fiction. But I don't think it will hurt to go to a bookstore and see who is publishing what kind of fiction. Just be careful about trying to write according to what you imagine an editor is looking for — see my remarks above about honest writing.

continue to step 5



Navigation — the 10-step plan:

1. Read
2. Examine your values
3. Learn about publishing
4. Research
5. Write
6. Rewrite
7. More research
8. Query
9. Submit
10. Persevere

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glossary of book publishing terms

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