Monday, July 13, 2009

Book Review: Blow Us Away! Publishers' Secrets for Successful Manuscripts

I had the opportunity to read Blow Us Away! Publishers' Secrets for Successful Manuscripts by E. Keith Howick, Jr. of WindRiver Publishing and it was a wonderful reference I sucked up at one sitting. This is an essential read for any author before putting together that submission to a publisher. Since I've been doing book submissions for years, it was a handy refresher for many things I've learned the hard way, and an eye-opener about many things I've missed.

There is so much that an author needs to know before writing that query letter, and this is the place to get it. For example, essential knowledge of the economics of publishing is a black art to most authors, but right at the beginning, Howick spells out the simple dollars and cents of how much money is made per book and how that drives the calculations of advances. The royalty section later on gives the same detailed breakdown that shines light on parts of the business that has been obscure to outsiders.

The book backs up his advice with copious links, both of the URL kind and the ISBN kind to expand on what he has just said, plus the it is nicely indexed, which will make it invaluable as a handy reference.

The components of a good book submission are broken down and each is given its due. For example, "find your target audience" is something every author has heard, but with this book's list of categories, and their buying habits, it will bring clarity to a task that often seems fuzzy and impossible.

As a small publisher myself, I'm tempted to make this book required reading for friends who have written a book and want me to help them get it into print. Even if a book is good, the background information about the process of publication is critical to success.

And for me, written from the perspective of a traditional publisher, it's an eye-opening list of concerns for a self-publisher looking to expand beyond just publishing my own titles. I know I'll be referring to this book for a long time to come.

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