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Got a great idea for a book? Here’s what you should do

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–If you’ve got a great idea for a book, or a manuscript already written, it always helps to know the procedure to follow for approaching a publishing company.
Bucky Rosenbaum and Gail Rothwell of Broadman & Holman Publishers, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, recently offered practical advice to would-be authors.
First, they said writers need to know that, due to the high volume of unsolicited manuscripts, many Christian publishers have had to reevaluate their policies.
In the next few months, B&H trade and academic books and children’s books likely will have a new policy requiring manuscripts to be submitted through agents.
Rosenbaum, vice president for trade and academic books, said writers can get a good idea of what publishers are looking for by reading their writers guidelines. These are available free from publishers and should be obtained before writing a formal book proposal or submitting a manuscript.
He said writers for adults should:
1) Ask themselves if there is a clear need for their book in the marketplace and tell the publisher what is already on the market on this same subject.
2) Send a query letter to the publisher.
3) Submit a formal book proposal if the publisher is interested. Include: premise; chapter outline/synopsis; competitive analysis; audience; author bio; marketing ideas; and two sample chapters with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Do not send a manuscript unless specifically requested.
Rothwell, senior acquisitions and development editor for children’s books, cited a list of issues for children’s writers to consider:
1) Know about the publisher you are writing for.
2) Know the age group you are writing for.
3) Remember that research is the key for any writing process. Check the accuracy of facts contained in your book. Research the competition from other publishers. Search your local library for additional resources.
4) Send a book proposal. The cover letter or information sheet should list: type of book; format of book (page count, hardback, four-color art, about how many words total or words per page, and a very brief sentence about how you envision the book would look); audience or age group; “Why” of your book (the hook) — What makes this book different or special?; delivery (when the manuscript will be finished and/or when the author is available); competition from other publishers; and author bio with address and phone number.
Those interested in taking up writing or getting their manuscripts published may attend one of three writers conferences sponsored by LifeWay components.
A Christian Writers Conference will be held at Glorieta (N.M.), a LifeWay Conference Center, on Nov. 9-13. “Knowing and Pursuing Your Calling” is the theme for the conference, which is designed for the established writer as well as the person considering the field. Call 1-800-797-4222 for more information. Faculty will include writers, editors and agents.
A similar conference, the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, will be held at Ridgecrest (N.C.), a LifeWay Conference Center, on April 2-6, 2000. For more information, call 1-800-588-7222. Writers, editors and agents will be featured on the program.
The annual LifeWay Writers Workshop will be held July 30-Aug. 3, 2000, at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville Tenn. Writing for LifeWay publications is a primary focus of this conference. Information may be obtained by calling 1-800-254-2022.

    About the Author

  • Kristin Searfoss