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Posted 27 Jun 2001


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Getting published

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27 Jun 20015 min read
Ever wanted to write or review a book? Karen Wachs of Sams Publishing gives some valuable tips.


Writing a book is not easy, but it can be a hugely rewarding experience. Your enjoyment out of writing a book, and your audience's enjoyment out of reading the book depend a lot on a lot of factors, including who you have to guide you through the process. Below are some brief words of wisdom for those who wish to become authors or reviewers.

Finding the right person

If you are interested in participating in computer technical books—whether as a lead author, a contributor, tech reviewer, or peer/audience reviewer - your initial challenge lies in finding the right person within a publishing company who will help you pursue your interests.

Publishers appreciate being contacted directly—whether about an idea for a title, or even criticism of a current book. Your contributions will only help us build better books, and even when the news is painful we appreciate this. Most publishers will have a catch-all way for you to get in touch with us—typically through our web site (links such as "do you want to review?," or "do you want to write?," or just "contact us."). The person culling through these messages will make sure that your note of interest is forwarded to the appropriate editor.

This raises some good questions—"what is an editor?", and "how do I know which editor I should talk to?" If you’re interested in writing or reviewing, you want to talk to an Acquisitions Editor.  The Acquisitions Editor is a first-line editor who is out in the community and whose role it is to figure out what books should be published, at what time, and to make contact with the people who can write them. If you make initial contact through a web site, your message will be forwarded to the editor who follows your area of interest. Some publishing houses feature a listing of their editors on the front insides of their books; chances are if the book’s subject comes close to your area of interest, the Acquisitions Editor listed here will be the person with whom you want to speak. And not least, ask your friends, coworkers, or post on trusted newsgroups. In this industry, chances are one of these folks will either know an editor, or know someone who knows an editor. You will also want this person’s recommendation and personal opinion on what it was like to work with the particular company and individual. Experiences vary a great deal from one book-writing experience to the next, and the best way to ensure that you will have a good experience is to talk with someone who has travelled down that road, with that editor and their team.

Contacting a Publisher

In contacting a publisher or specific editor, include as much information as you can in your initial message. Your editor, assuming they are thorough and that the general topic fits the type of books produced by that publisher, will work with you to develop your idea. Ultimately this process will lead to a book proposal, outlined below.

Let’s say you now know you want to write a book, you have a pretty good idea on which subject you’d like to write, and have found an editorial contact name and want to get things going. What happens next? Once you contact that editor to voice your interest, more than likely he or she will want you to submit a formal book proposal. This kind of document is requested not just to help us make a publication decision, but to help us all better understand who your audience is, what they would want to learn (or code they would want to lift) from your book, and what if anything you can do with your content to better serve that audience. It is worth thinking in advance about some of the things an editor will be looking for in that proposal, such as… "what approach are you going to take to this topic, how is that different from other resources available," "what kind of information is your audience seeking on this topic, and how do you intend to provide it," "why this topic, and no other," "why you as the author, and no other," etc.  Most editors will have proposal guidelines built around such questions, and in the end you’ll want to wrap all of this information around a proposed table of contents.  In return, your editor should be willing to supply the information you need — ie, how will they (we) work with you and support you throughout the writing process and beyond. Your future will involve many hours of writing; what will your publisher be doing during this time?

Writing the book

Writing a book is not easy, and if your editor tells you it will be or that "you can write those 500 pages in two months, no problem," run, don’t walk. But it can be extremely rewarding, in terms of the recognition you may receive as a result, your ability to market yourself to potential clients or employers, and ideally a sense of personal accomplishment (you probably will not have to set up an off-shore account for all the cash, unless you are writing romance novels).  Be prepared:  people will respond to you. They will approach you at conferences, or send you emails—possibly to say you’ve got it all wrong—but equally as possible to say that you inspired them in some way or gave them an indispensable piece of knowledge that saved their neck at just the right moment.


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About the Author

Sams Publishing
United States United States
No Biography provided
Group type: Organisation

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Comments and Discussions

Generalmail address of author wrong Pin
Jacob Navia6-Feb-02 10:01
MemberJacob Navia6-Feb-02 10:01 
GeneralRe: mail address of author wrong Pin
Chris Maunder8-Mar-03 7:43
cofounderChris Maunder8-Mar-03 7:43 
GeneralRe: mail address of author wrong Pin
Tom Archer23-Aug-03 6:47
MemberTom Archer23-Aug-03 6:47 
GeneralFinancial Benefits!! Pin
5-Jul-01 8:02
suss5-Jul-01 8:02 
GeneralRe: Financial Benefits!! Pin
1-Aug-01 11:26
suss1-Aug-01 11:26 
GeneralRe: Financial Benefits!! Pin
Tom Archer23-Aug-03 5:51
MemberTom Archer23-Aug-03 5:51 
GeneralNice article Pin
2-Jul-01 10:48
suss2-Jul-01 10:48 
GeneralRe: Nice article Pin
coder4rent2-May-04 16:55
Membercoder4rent2-May-04 16:55 
GeneralSPAMMER Pin
abhadresh2-May-04 17:32
Memberabhadresh2-May-04 17:32 
GeneralRe: Nice article Pin
Paul Conrad30-Jun-06 21:59
professionalPaul Conrad30-Jun-06 21:59 

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