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From the Publisher?s Desk: How Book Publishing looks from the Other Side
Many writers aspire to writing books. Writing a book is a long, involved, difficult process. Book publishing is harder. A writer may submit his book time and time again only to be turned down again and again. He may eventually be successful. Wouldn?t it have been easier to have just gotten published the first time? Is that possible? You can improve your chances if you understand a little bit more about what happens at the publisher?s desk. Book publishers are busy people with several projects crossing their desks every day. They must make fast decisions about what will sell. They must also delegate their time efficiently in order to keep the business running. Only occasionally do publishers actually seek out work. Maybe understanding the work day of a publisher will help you to get a book published.
Persistence Has a New Meaning
You all know that writers must be persistent. Regardless of how many times you get shot down and your ideas are thrown in the trash, you have to keep going back for more discouragement. The idea is that eventually you?ll make it in the door. If you can get all the way through, you will finally get to the place where more of your work is accepted than declined. When working with the book publishing world, the rule is the same. If you have a book that you know will sell, you can?t give up on getting it onto the publisher?s desk again and again. You probably won?t be sending the entire book, but excerpts from it. As you continually send your manuscript again and again to publisher after publisher, you should try to market it in different ways. Publishers are looking for a particular kind of writing and will dismiss anything that doesn?t look like what they are looking for. Variation in your marketing techniques may turn a rejected book into an accepted book.
The Right Stuff
Book publishing is a strange area of business. The people?s tastes are somewhat fickle and a book publisher has to keep up with what kinds of books will sell. It seems that technically written mysteries will always have a place on the bookshelves, but it is unclear how many authors readers are willing to get to know. That market may be tied up until Crichton and Grisham are finished. That is just one example from one genre of books though. Publishers have to keep track of what is selling in all areas of literature. The best way for you to get your work noticed is to make it look like the other writing that is selling. Be careful not to imitate style or voice of another author. Write with your own unique words while imitating the use of popular public opinion. Another way to improve your chances of getting your work onto the right publisher?s desk is to find out who?s publishing what.
Are You Barking Up the Right Tree?
Some publishers specialize in a certain kind of writing. If you are writing a novel, it won?t do you any good to send it to the people who publish technical manuals. How do you find out who is the most likely candidate to publish your work? There are reference manuals at your library that will tell you the kinds of book publishing that is happening. It will contain valuable information leading you to children?s book publishers, novel publishers and textbook publishers. If the handbook at your library is not quite up to date, your next option is to check out the new release and best seller rack at the book store. Buy a few books and read them. You?ll have a much better feel for the market if you are a consumer.
Book publishing is a difficult field to break into. It can be helpful to approach the issue from the direction of the publisher. Before you send out your manuscript again, there are things you can do to improve your chances. Change your marketing style so that you just may grab some better attention. Make sure that you are a book consumer yourself. You?ll get a better feel for what?s selling and therefore what a publisher will buy. You?ll also find out who is publishing which types of books. Finally, by buying the product you are trying to sell, you will improve the book economy all together. Publishers need to see people buying books before they can commit to publishing more.
The Ins and Outs of Free Writing Contests (free writing contests) Free writing contests are available by the thousands. They are virtually a dime a dozen on the Internet. No matter what your niche is in the writing community there is a free writing contests out there for you. How do you know which ones to enter and which ones are legitimate? That?s simple. You do what you do best-- research. While providing the story for the free writing contest will probably be the easy part, researching the thousands of available contests will be a daunting task. If this is un-chartered water for you, you have the start at the beginning. Finding what free writing contests are available. Grab a notebook or start a word document and list the contests that are available. Beside each contest name you will want to put what kind of writing they are looking for and when it needs to be done by. By doing this first you will be able to eliminate any that do not coincide with your writing niche or with your schedule. Now the free writing contest research begins. Finding out if a contest is worthwhile and legitimate is comparable to running a background check on a person. First check the contest website. Do they have all contact information available? Do they tell you what company is hosting the contest? If they are not, you will have likely found warning number one that it is a scam. So scratch those off your list or at least move them to the bottom until you can find out more information on them. Start asking around to colleagues and writers groups. Search the writing forums and the Internet scam sites. The Better Business Bureau is also a good place to look. Once you narrowed the free writing contests down to the legitimate ones, read the contest rules and regulations. Some contests require you signing over all rights to a story even if you don?t win. Are you willing to do this? Giving up rights to you writing is a lot easier to do when you are getting something in return. After you enter there is no going back, so make sure this is what you want to do. The final thing you need to look for is if the contest is just a cover up to get you to buy services or products. This does not necessarily mean they are a scam or don?t actually award winners. It simply means that they will try to entice you to use their critiquing services or offer you a book at a reduced fee that your work will be published in. Being published sounds like a great deal but is it a book that carries prestige that people are going to see? Many authors think that writing contests will launch their career into a successful endeavor. This is not the case, especially for free writing contests. Even winning the grand prize of a smaller known contest is not going to affect your literary journey. Even though they may not springboard your career, there are good reasons to join writing contests. You will get unbiased opinions and valuable feedback from the judges. If you make it into the higher rounds, editors could also see your writing. Ultimately whether you enter a free writing contest the choice is yours. Just ask you self if the time spent writing and researching the piece you choose to enter is worth writing for free in most cases. The critique and feedback may be the most worthwhile thing you receive from the contest. But then again the judges opinions are a dime a dozen just like the contests.
Web Hosting - Databases, What Are They and Do You Need One? 'Database' is one of the most commonly used terms that one encounters in web site design. Yet, what they really are and whether they're essential is often not clear to novices. A database is a collection of organized data, stored in files that have a specific structure. It's that organization and structure that allows for easy and rapid storage and retrieval. The need for a database generally only arises when you have a certain amount of information and that information needs to have some structure. If you have a half-dozen names and addresses to store, a database is usually overkill. If you have a blob of data with no relationships between any of the items in that blob, maintaining a database is usually more trouble than it's worth. Maintain a database? Yes, like other complex systems a database, to be effective, needs to be designed properly at the outset then kept 'tuned' for good performance. The alternative is to gradually allow the database to become more and more disorganized. That leads to difficulty in use, poor speed of retrieval and more frequent failures. With MySQL, Access or MS SQL Server, the three most common choices of database product for web sites today, setting up a database is relatively simple. Even those with limited technical skill can get one up and running just by following some simple instructions. But some thought should be given to how you want the information organized, and to maintaining the system during its lifetime. Suppose you have a set of names, addresses, email addresses, products purchased, date purchased and amount. If you have only a few dozen records it matters very little how these pieces are arranged and related. A database usually isn't even warranted in this scenario. Once you have several thousand or more records, it matters a lot. Speed, the ease of expanding the set of attributes (like adding, say, product category), and other issues come into play. Even those with little technical expertise, but a willingness to exert logical thought and invest some time, can build a very robust database. Think about how you would organize a set of data (called 'tables'). Should Name, Address, and Product be in the same table? Or should the personal information be stored in one table and any product information (product, price, ...) in another? Some experimentation may be needed to get it right, but the choices have an impact on how easy the tables are to maintain. It also affects the speed with which programs can fetch old data and store the new. Having a database also introduces new maintenance issues for the server administrator, since backups usually need to be done differently. Recovering a failed database is usually more complicated than simply re-copying files from yesterday. Ask your hosting company what tools and skills they have for dealing with any database system you consider. It's true that introducing a database creates more complexity and the need for additional thought and administrative effort. At a certain level, professional expertise will be needed. But clearly the advantages outweigh the costs in many cases. Companies large and small eventually use databases to store and organize data. At some point, you may be fortunate enough to be one of them.