Writing a book – Part 4 – Accept or Reject

December 22nd, 2005

This is the third installment in a series of posts on writing a book (first post here, second post here, third post here).  It's not so much a "how to get published" but rather one author's experience of the entire writing process, starting with the idea and taking that to a finished book. 

Same disclaimers as last time - I'm writing from a technical author's viewpoint and ideas may not translate to other kind of writing, I can't guarantee that you'll make millions or that you'll even get published but I'm pretty sure that the information here isn't going to harm your chances!

Accept or Reject

You've come up with the idea, written a proposal and shot it off to a few publishers (you can get details on how to do this off publisher websites ... there are loads of them, far too many to list here and the pages get moved often so links die quickly.  Anyway, I'm not telling you all my secret moves!  ). 

Next comes that "wait and see" period.  This can be a vary variable thing, ranging from a few hours to a few weeks.  The trick here is to be patient.  As a rule I won't follow up with a publisher for at least three weeks and there are times where I won't follow up at all (especially if I haven't had any acknowledgment).  When you hear back from them you will be told one of four possible things:

  • Yes
    In this case you move to the next step!  Congratulations!
  • No
    Rejection is common.  Learn not to fear failure and take it on the chin.  Usually you will get some sort of reason (even if it is just "... your idea doesn't meet with any publishing plans we currently have ...").  Either way, don't be down-hearted and just send it to some other publishers.  If you get some feedback then give it consideration and perhaps tweak the proposal based on it. 
    Never send out your first proposal to every publisher you find!  There are a number of really good reasons for this but the most important is that it allows you to tweak your proposal before you send it to the next batch of publishers. 
    Don't keep sending the same proposal (or variations on the same proposal) to the same publisher - you'll just irritate them!
  • Hmmm, what about modifying this idea to ...
    This is where your idea touches on an idea that the publishers themselves have had but it doesn't quite match up so they might ask you to tweak the proposal and resubmit.  Usually they will work with you over this and give you some ideas of how they would like the proposal changed (although sometimes such feedback can be vague because they people at the other end won't be familiar with the technology themselves).  Be flexible but also be firm - remember, YOU'RE the expert!
  • Hold please!
    They're thinking about it so wait for a more sensible response.

That's pretty much all that there is to this stage.  The main tips that I can give you to try to increase the chances of a publisher saying "yes" are these:

  • Don't fear failure!  Don't take the first rejection as meaning that the idea has no merit!
  • Come up with plenty of ideas!
  • Work on polishing the proposal - really sell yourself and the idea!
  • Don't hassle the publishers too much!  Be nice and courteous at all times.
  • Remain confident!  You can do it!

Next time I'll pick up and give you some tips for when a publisher comes back to you and says "yes" for the first time!

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 22nd, 2005 at 16:14 and is filed under Book Talk!. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “Writing a book – Part 4 – Accept or Reject”

  1. Jim Minatel's Wrox Book Editor Blog Says:

    Writing a book: an author's perspective

    Wrox and Wiley author Adrian Kingsley-Hughes has a series of blog posts outlining his view of the technical book writing process. He started a few weeks ago with his overview of the book writing process. He's now up to his