I seem to be getting a lot of questions about how to get published and so that I don’t have to keep repeating the same information, I thought I’d just do a blog about it so I can simply refer people to that, instead. If you’re not interested in being published, just ignore it.
The good news is that unlike a fiction book, you don’t have to have a completed manuscript to submit a non-fiction book. Most publishers will buy these on proposal. Unfortunately, you do have to have an agent, and frankly getting an agent is a worse task than cleaning an Aegean stable and it doesn’t smell any better, either. (Most publishers will not accept an unagented non-fiction proposal.) To get an agent you have to have a proposal, but before you can even send a proposal to most you have send a query letter telling them about your book. Some don’t mind receiving the proposal with the query, you just have to check their website and they’ll tell you which they prefer. Here’s a link with some lessons about how to do it:
As I said, each agent is going to have different variations of what they want but for the most part they all want a synopsis, chapter summary and market analysis. All this sounds intimidating, but it’s not that bad. The synopsis is just a short summary (2-3 pages) of what your book will be about. With the chapter summary you lay out with a sentence or two what will be in each chapter. Market analysis just means you look at other similar books and tell them why your book is different and will sell better than those.
Once you’ve got your proposal pulled together then you need to start looking for agents. I use a site called Agent Query for this.
It’s very current and gives you most of the information you need. You can set parameters, obviously for your non-fiction book you’re not looking for an agent that specializes in children’s books. It also has links so you can look at the agent sites once you’ve narrowed it down to the ones you think would be interested in your book. Most agents will tell you in great detail what they prefer in their query letters and book proposals. Try to follow their instructions to the letter. Some will accept queries and proposals by e-mail, others prefer regular mail so you have to make sure you send it the way they like.
Remember, there are a lot of sharks out there. If they’re asking for money, stay away from them, unless you’ve decided to self-publish none of this should cost you anything. There’s a great site called Preditors and Editors that lists most of the bad guys out there. So before you send anything to anybody, it’s best to check with them.
This should be enough information to get you started. I know it sounds like a lot, and to be honest it is. I’ll tell you right now you will work harder at getting published than you’ve ever worked on anything in your life. And once you are published, then the real work begins. (Just a heads up).