Thursday, August 18, 2005

Paper Covers

Paper Covers

Publishing statistics

The Columbus (OH) Dispatch ran a good article 8/16/05 on "New Chapter in Publishing: Internet bookselling opens door for the little guy." Here are a few snippets:

There are 83,000 publishers in the U.S.
Of those, 70,000 have 10 or fewer titles.
In 2004, 11,500 publishers opened their businesses.
This was a 70% increase over 1995.

195,000 (approx.) new books were published in the U.S. in 2004.
This figure is 114,000 more books than in 1995.

Interesting is that fact that while 114,000 more books were published in the U.S. in 2004 than in 1995, the actual number of books sold annually has remained "relatively flat" in the last decade.

Approx. 2.29 billion books were sold last year.

The Dispatch mentioned Al Greco's book "The Book Publishing Industry" which sounds like a good book to read, for anyone interested in the future of publishing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Choices Facing Authors...

Pick a genre:
adult fiction; adult nonfiction; children’s fiction and children’s nonfiction (see list that follows)

Length of manuscript
  • Short stories: 30 double-spaced manuscript pages
  • Novellas: 30 to 150 double-spaced manuscript pages
  • Novels: 250 to 450 double-spaced manuscript pages
  • Nonfiction: varies


The Book Industry Study Group publishes what is known as a BISAC list of categories that are standard within the book industry. You can obtain this list (BISAC Subject Headings) from

After writing the book, hiring an editor. This is recommended whether you are self-publishing or seeking an agent or publisher. There are many independent editors (for my qualifications and references, please visit If you sell the rights to your book to a publisher, the manuscript will also be edited in-house. Regardless, you should work with an editor before submitting your book to an agent or publisher.

After the manuscript is in tip-top shape the following must be addressed:

  • What will be the name of your publishing company?
  • You will need to apply for an ISBN log so that you can sell your books through retailers.
  • How will your books be sold? By you; by a wholesaler; by a distributor?
  • You must develop a marketing plan to each of your markets: readers; wholesalers; bookstores; etc.
  • What price will your book be?
  • What discount will you offer?
  • How will you physically handle the ordering and shipping process?
  • What software will you use for bookkeeping and what will the terms be?
  • Will you accept returns?
  • Will you sell internationally, nationally, regionally, statewide or locally?
  • Who will you hire to design your book?
  • How will the book be printed? Web, sheetfed, digital
  • How many books will you print?
    5,000; 3000; 1500;
    under 500 (known as a short run or PQN, print quantity needed)
    print on demand (known as POD)
  • How will you tell your market about your book?
  • What pub date will you establish for your book?
  • Will you be publishing books by other authors?
  • How will you address the issue of self-publication?

    The market for your manuscript will be, at this point, agents and/or publishers. Are you going to seek and agent or a publisher?
    You will need to research who the most likely agents or publishers are for your book.
    Will you send out multiple submissions?
    You will need to assemble your materials for submission. This involves two stages:
  • Stage 1: A query letter; a synopsis; and, for non-fiction, your qualifications to write the book
  • Stage 2: after receiving the go-ahead.... a cover letter and the first chapter and two additional chapters, and the information found in the Author’s Marketing Input Sheet in Wham! Bam! Publishing: The Strategic Marketing Plan for Authors and Publishers.
    Note: For nonfiction, your manuscript does not need to be completed. For fiction, your manuscript must be completed.

What is manuscript form?

  • Double–space your work.
  • It should be typed in 12-pt type, Times Roman typeface with one-inch margins on each side.
  • There must be a header on each page, with the title and your name in the top lef-hand corner and consecutive and continuous page numbering in the top right-hand corner.
  • Do not bind or staple your proposal. It is okay to put a rubber band around it.
  • Do not "typeset" it in MS Word.
  • Do not design a cover.
  • Do not send illustrations.
    A basic list of genres
  • romance (gothic, traditional, Native American, Western, historical, time travel, futuristic, fantasy, vampire and paranormal)
  • mysteries and crime novels
  • thrillers and suspense novels
  • horror
  • science fiction and fantasy
  • historical novels
  • literary (or mainstream) novels
    "The literary novel thrives on the reputation and consummate skill of the writer, on book reviews and blurbs from other more famous writers and on word of mouth." Peter Rubie

  • narrative nonfiction (character-driven nonfiction having a structure that echoes fiction)
    "A book of nonfiction must contain much information and should not be used as a soapbox for you to spout your pet grievance. Carefully and honestly recount in a strongly written narrative infused with much emotional content what it was like to go through the experience. People must trust you as an informed guide to the topic you’re writing about before they’ll bother to read what you have to say. That’s why most successful nonfiction is written by either journalists or experts of one sort or another." Peter Rubie
  • biography
  • memoirs
    "commercially successful memoirs are about traumatic events in a writer’s life that a writer of exquisite skill can transform into a universal experience we can all share." Peter Rubie
  • How-to Books
  • Reference Books
  • Cookbooks
  • Travel Books
  • Pop Culture
  • Humor
  • Children’s Books
  • Young Adult

Almost a year's worth of progress

A year ago I rec'd the message heard by many forty-somethings who've sat too long in front of computers, staring at lines of text while their more adventurous peers were "spinning" and kickboxing... the exact wording is forgotten, but the internal translation follows: "you're getting older; you're getting fat; your sugar's elevated; time for some change." Fortunately, the message reached me at the time every year I start thinking about my goals for the coming year; so the most important goal became crystal clear: just figuring out how to discipline myself enough to transform my body into a vessel/carrier/physical manifestation of my spirit/THING that will carry me into the next three and a half decades, which is how long I will need to live to catch up to my fit-and-fabulous mother, who has redefined the eightieth decade for everyone who knows her.

First went the sugar: goodbye morning stops at the Donut House; goodbye sweet teas and sugar-laden coffees; goodbye Miss Meringue; Circus Peanuts; seven-layer cookies; key lime cheesecake; spearmint lozenges. These friends became enemies. (imagine cute drawing of little-shop-of-horror-like candies glowering in a kitchen cabinet)

I pulled out my crochet hooks, bought more yarn than any woman who owns her own thriving business should have and started to crochet. Every evening I picked up that hook, put a parrot on my shoulder and made scarves (everyone in my family got them for Christmas), purses, and the start of what I think is a pretty good idea for a large-scale installation project commemorating big-world tragedies (as yet unfinished; not the tragedies, they keep going on for some reason).

By January I had lost almost 20 lbs.

In March, I received a call from Cathy Moxley of Fitness Insight ( Cathy was ready to hire a designer and editor for her upcoming book "The Busy Mom's Ultimate Fitness Guide" and we struck a sweet deal. Some of my services would be traded for some of her services and, voila, I had my very own fitness/health coach! Let the games begin.

Cathy is a certified "Wellness Coach" and her organization, encouragement, and practical approach fit my shrinking hips perfectly. We set goals (weekly, monthly, 3-month) and began.

I wrote down everything I ate. Still do.

Hello to snap peas, big salads with all the good stuff like at Olive Garden, Splenda, protein bars, lean meat, skim milk, and a new appreciation of apples. Before I knew it the first 12 weeks was up and the weight was down... down 15 more lbs!

In the meantime, I found someone kind enough to tolerate my amateur attempts at "spending time in the beautiful wooded Hocking Hills" and who introduced me to compasses, backpacks, comfortable tents that fold and compact themselves into tiny, lightweight packages and the incredible amount of water one needs to consume when hiking in 90-degree weather -- I traded my crochet hooks for comfortable hiking shoes and off we went.

In the meantime, the second 12-week session with Cathy began. I discovered how much my Pekingnese loves to walk and how hard our Chihuahua will push herself to keep up. I found out how lovely it is to sit atop the rocks at Mt. Pleasant, look down upon the little town of Lancaster, and read a book that I choose purely for pleasure, not because someone has paid me to read it.

I lost five more pounds.

I discovered that one can really get a lot of exercise in if one's butt moves from the couch a mere foot lower to the floor, onto a matt, and just keeps moving through "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Two and a Half-Men." I discovered that a cockatoo really likes to perch on your chest while you do crunches and blow her feathers each time you compress your stomach muscles.

I read "The Stone Diaries" (finally), "Good in Bed," and a book by a blind woman who is an artist. I went painting with the Ohio Plein Air Society (OPAS), treated myself to teeth-whitening (more than you wanted to know, right?) and spoke before three groups: The Writer's Bloc at Thurber House; a not-for-profit childrens group at Henry Manor; and at the Fairfield County Library. I overcame my fear of giving speeches. I bought new clothes. Lots. I let my hair grow out. I bought pretty shoes.

I learned that a man who knows everything about being outside also knows a ton about cooking and I found out how good things can taste without sugar, salt, and a lot of other stuff that does me no good. I learned grocery shopping can be interesting and enjoyable instead of a test of willpower.

I lost five more pounds.

Now, 45 lbs less, a year later, the journey continues. I have new goals; I am finding out what works. I am so very very thankful. Thankful to those who by their words, their knowledge, and their patience, pointed me in the right direction and stayed by me to make sure I didn't fall off the path in exhaustion.

I feel the healthiest I've every felt in my life, and that's saying quite a lot really. My mind and my body have shifted and become used to the new "familiar."

Yesterday I returned to my doctor for The Annual Check-up. I sprinted up the six flights of steps to her office. Blood sugar, totally normal. Blood pressure from 140/100 to 120/80.

My family doctor of six years told me she was moving to Kentucky. I would have to see a new doctor. Some day.... for now, I've got to help plan the next big hike, take my dog for a walk, learn a new exercise from Cathy's book, and buy a new dress to wear to my mother's birthday dinner in December.... I wonder what I will learn in the next 12 months? What will you?