Getting Your Book Published for Dummies
by Susan Parsons Zackheim
Book Review by Amy Coffin
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Have you considered writing a book someday? Maybe sooner? There's more to the process than just hammering away at the keyboard. From page one of your manuscript, the odds of publishing success are against you. In this book, Susan Parsons Zackheim provides tried and true advice for new writers.

Getting Your Book Published for Dummies is divided into seven parts. The titles of these sections indicate the topics covered. Within each part are several chapters devoted to the subject at hand.

Part I - Getting Started
This section concentrates on developing an idea for your book. Advice is given on how to shape your idea into a marketable product. Qualifications, collaborations and book classifications are discussed.

Part II - Knocking on the Publisher's Door
Ever wonder how a book is bought by a publisher? The process is described here. Also handy is a chapter on developing the right submission strategy for your own book.

Part III - Preparing the Package: Book Proposals and Query Letters that Sell
This section starts where the last left off. After developing a submission strategy, you must gather your book's best features and prepare a sales package to present to publishers.

Part IV - Taking it Public: A Strategic Approach to Placing Your Book
It can be tricky getting your manuscript in the publisher's door. This section discusses ways to garner attention for your book on top of all others being submitted. Zackheim gives advice on choosing publishers and acting as your own agent. She also provides the responsibilities of the typical literary agent and gives names and addresses of some of the bigger players in the game. The author also uses Part IV to examine less-traditional publishing routes including self-publishing, vanity publishing and e-publishing.

Part V - Home at Last! Negotiation and Contract
Now we're getting to the money. This section contains valuable information on offers, advances and royalties. Zackheim also points out several items authors need to be concerned about when hammering out a deal with a publisher. Lastly, there are breakdowns on the steps of negotiation and elements of a basic publishing contract.

Part VI - After the Deal is Done
This section focuses on what happens after the contract is signed. Zackheim introduces readers to the many responsibilities of the people who will handle your manuscript. There is a step-by-step guide to the physical creation of a book and a description of how a publisher will sell it. Zackheim also provides helpful advice on self-marketing and publicity.

Part VII - The Part of Tens
This a short section which provides four quickie ten-item lists related to publishing. Did you ever want to know the "ten excuses publishers give for turning down book proposals"? The answers are here.

Getting Your Book Published for Dummies is a valuable asset to any writing library. Author Sarah Parsons Zackheim packs a ton of essential information into a neat and tidy book. The language is simple and the author clearly describes the complicated publishing business.

Zackheim has authored/co-authored several books. She draws on past experience to explain the publishing process, which allows her to plug her own book simultaneously. She's well connected to the industry, allowing her to give lots of examples and helping writers understand the little intricacies of different publishers.

Getting Your Book Published for Dummies is a little too optimistic. The odds of a first-time writer being published are slim and the path is rockier than Zackheim lets on. Her own writing experiences are described with ease, including a six-figure advance for her best-known book. Those unfamiliar with the writing process will develop unrealistic expectations from this author's pep talk.

I also question the author's insistence that new writers directly contact potential publishers. Zackheim believes attaining literary representation is an option rather than a necessity. I've heard otherwise from several sources. Again, I feel the author is handing new writers a dose of false hope.

The behind-the-scenes information of the publishing process and the actual creation and marketing of books make this instruction manual indispensable to the novice. Why does it take so long to get a book published? Zackheim explains why. However, if you're a true beginner, you'll need further instruction on writing technique. This book focuses strictly on the business of writing.

Getting Your Book Published for Dummies is a valuable asset to your writing toolbox, though it shouldn't be the only book you own. Zackheim provides essential information publishing procedures. Reading other books on the subject, however, will give new writers a well-rounded view of the entire writing experience. In short, buy this book but stock your shelves with other writing books as well.

Recommended Books on Writing:
Writing Down the Bones
Writing Down
the Bones by
Natalie Goldberg
Word Work
Word Work
by Bruce Holland Rogers
On Writing
On Writing
by Stephen King