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The Author's Handbook

Franklynn Peterson and Judi Kesselman-Turkel

Publication Year: 2006

Providing essential guidance for both aspiring and experienced authors, the second edition of The Author’s Handbook is a valuable resource for writers of all levels. Extensively updated and expanded to account for significant changes in the publishing industry, The Author’s Handbook outlines effective techniques to develop marketable book ideas, research those ideas, and write a manuscript—either fiction or nonfiction—for publication. The authors provide many tips on topics that include choosing a publisher, negotiating contracts, understanding legal matters, and promoting your work. With this guide, the reader will gain insight into virtually every aspect of publishing.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Part I. How to Sell Your Book

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1. A Publishing Primer

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pp. 3-12

AMUTUAL FRIEND SENT MIKE TO US. HE SAT WITH US ON our front porch and said, "I've written seven novels before this, but they're so bad I wouldn't waste your time even showing them to you. This one is good. I know it's good. I can feel it's almost there."...

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2. Can Your Idea Become a Book?

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pp. 13-24

EDITORS SELDOM BUY COMPLETED MANUSCRIPTS-AND it's a good thing, too. If authors had to research, organize and write 450 pages of fiction or nonfiction before they could market it, few could make a living. Authors' closets would be full of unpublished manuscripts, many of them beautifully written on important themes...

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3. When, Why, and How to Look for an Agent

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pp. 25-34

THROUGHOUT MOST OF THE LAST CENTURY, A PERSIStent author didn't need a literary agent to get a book published by a publishing house with a track record. That's no longer true. Generally, having an agent may help you pass the publishers' monopoly on "Go" and collect two hundred dollars many times over. But once you do get an agent, you'll wonder how he can live in a New York mansion...

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4. How to Approach a Publisher with Your Book

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pp. 35-41

WE'VE HEARD DOZENS OF SECRETS AND SURE-FIRE FORmulas for how to sell book ideas to editors: make up a great title, know the editor personally, appear absolutely gorgeous (whether male or female), get a big-name literary agent, adopt a personal trademark such as always wearing a white Panama suit...

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5. How to Package a Dynamic Book Proposal

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pp. 42-74

The sheaf of papers describing your book idea, which you or your agent sends an editor along with a covering letter, is commonly called a proposal. The vast mystique that has grown up around book proposals gets in the way...

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6. Book Contracts: How to Read and Negotiate Them

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pp. 75-89

YOUR FIRST BOOK CONTRACT IS LIKE YOUR FIRST DAY OF school and your first home mortgage rolled into one. The language is strange, the terms vague, the demands stringent, the threatened punishments harsh. Even most local attorneys are hard-put to make sense of the legalities and terminology peculiar to the business of writing...

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7. Is Self-Publication for You?

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pp. 90-98

RECENTLY, ALL KINDS OF WRITERS HAVE SEEMED HYPnotically drawn toward self-publication-printing and selling your own book-as an escape from the bind they believe their books are in. Many neophytes, tired of collecting rejection letters instead of royalty checks, see selfpublication as a way of pulling a fast one on the shortsighted...

Part II. How to Write Your Book

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8. How to Organize and Do Research

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pp. 101-111

AREPORTER WE KNOW DECIDED TO WRITE A BOOK BASED on his experience with Army Intelligence in Ethiopia. He spent six years, on and off, researching Ethiopia's history, geography and current affairs, studying everything written about the workings of Army Intelligence, and taping interviews with all his Army buddies...

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9. How to Collect First-Hand Information

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pp. 112-125

WHEN MARILYN FRENCH WROTE HER NOVEL THE Women's Room, she used mainly her own first-hand experiences. But she augmented them with many she'd witnessed happening to her friends. When Nancy Friday wrote her nonfiction collection of male fantasies...

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10. Three Ways to Write Exciting Nonfiction

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pp. 126-137

PROLIFIC WRITER BONNIE REMSBERG, WHO WON AWARDS for her magazine articles and Emmys for her TV scripts, was once asked, "What's the best thing about writing?"...

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11. Five Ways to Write a First Novel

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pp. 138-145

SOMERSET MAUGHAM WAS GUEST-LECTURING TO A CLASS in English literature, so the story goes, and a student asked the inevitable puzzler, "How do you write a novel?" Maugham answered, "There are three rules." Every pencil poised at the ready. "Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."...

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12. How to Edit and Prepare Your Final Manuscript

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pp. 146-155

MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, THE ONE THING THAT causes writer's block is the notion (fostered by school teachers who revere the published word) that fine writing flows like magic from the pens of a few special people blessed with the gift of effortless creativity...

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13. How and When to Prepare Illustrations

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pp. 156-164

MOST AUTHORS WOULD LIKE TO SEE THEIR BOOKS come out with catchy sketches introducing every chapter and fullpage, full-color photos illustrating every point. That's not true of the publishers who have to pay for them. Artists' and photographers' fees are only part of the problem. Reproduction can be costly. Publishers, therefore, tend to shy away from illustrations except for garden, food, craft and young children's books....

Part III. The Business of Writing

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14. What to Expect from Your Editor (and When)

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pp. 167-174

FINALLY! YOU'VE FINISHED THE ENTIRE MANUSCRIPT, proofread it fastidiously, keyed all your illustrations to the appropriate pages, packaged the entire precious cargo, and sent it to your editor. Your job is done, you think; can you relax?...

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15. How to Help with Book Sales

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pp. 175-190

WITH YOUR BOOK FINALLY IN PRINT, YOU DRIVE HOURS to the big city to tape a crack-of-dawn Good Morning America show only to find that the books you're trying to push are still in a Hoboken, New Jersey, warehouse and won't be shipped for another three weeks. Or you sit in your editor's New York office as she jovially tells the story...

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16. The Writer and the Law

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pp. 191-202

Defamation and its synonym slander are abusive attacks on a person's character or good name. To excerpt a definition from Harold Nelson and Dwight Teeters' classic textbook, Law of Mass Communications, libel is defamation that occurs by written "communication which exposes a person to hatred, ridicule, or contempt, lowers him in the esteem of his fellows...

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17. Coping with the Writer's Life

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pp. 203-214

IN THE DECADES WE'VE PRACTICED OUR CRAFT, WE'VE MET a great many would-be authors. As each eager aspirant approaches us for advice, we wonder if she'll be someone who makes it or one who drops out somewhere along the way. We can't predict fame or fortune and don't expect anybody ever will...


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pp. 215-220

E-ISBN-13: 9780299214838
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299214845

Publication Year: 2006


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