What do you want to achieve?

Let’s say it’s a book about your life.

Why do you want to write a book? I ask because I want to know where you mean to go with this. If we come to an agreement, you’ll have copyright; the typescript is yours. I write the book in exchange for a fee, and the profits are yours. But it’s up to both of us to ask, in advance, whether a reasonable person might hope to sell many copies. Although publishers make a good living they also sell books that don’t make much money at all.

Is it just for the family?

Maybe you’re writing it already, but the result is flat. It’s hard to bring it to life. If what you want is a truly readable book to present to your family and friends, then I can help. Is there a downside? Well – if your family are a human maelstrom of rows, resentment, passion, tenderness, struggle, achievement, riches, poverty, hilarity, misery, feuds and solidarity, that’s pretty typical. I can write about them as you see them and as long as you don’t say anything to defame or libel them, they’ll all speak to you again in a few years. (The physical self-published book will outlast all of us anyway.)

Is it a book that you can sell?

Most people want a book they can publish and sell, but autobiographies without an unusual angle are hard to place in the market (Read the blogpost about finding an angle.) You’ll want a ghost-writer to produce something more specific, in which your own life and character becomes apparent without being the point of the book. For instance –

  • resisting the impulse to buy yourself a bigger yacht
  • your fifteen minutes of fame
  • everything you know about postage stamps and why they matter
  • a book, blog or article that’s already been commissioned but which you don’t have time to write
  • or an unusual, interesting angle on just about anything.

So: first catch your writer and get the book you want.

Then – if your concept hasn’t already been commissioned – offer it to publishers. If your book has a chance of commercial success you will probably scrutinise the lists of literary agents and publishers on writersandartists.co.uk and go to the websites of those that look promising. Those who welcome unsolicited work will expect ‘a proposal’ and will explain on their website what this means in their case – your writer will help. Established authors may submit a proposal to their agent before their new book’s written but if this is your first book, and you’ve had no previous contact with publishers or agents, then save yourself time and get the whole book written before you submit.

The downside: You may or may not get a return on your investment. But that’s the case with all investments and this one is of personal importance. So as long as you have a good book, it’s up to you and your publisher to attract readers .

If you think your book will be a bestseller, look at Will my book sell?


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