Alamy
Alamy

6 Insider Tips For Selling Your Book

Alamy
Alamy

We spoke with several anonymous publishing insiders to find out the truth about landing a publishing deal. 

1. GO BIG.

To sell a book, you have to write one, or at least have a great pitch. Fiction sells on the strength of a completed manuscript, while nonfiction sells on the strength of a proposal (you can find examples online). Be it fiction or nonfiction, a major editor at one of publishing’s “Big Five” houses explains that major books attract attention: “It’s a question of scope—what range of human emotion does it cover? Does it attempt to say something larger about the human condition while also telling a personal story?"

2. PROCURE AN AGENT.

Once you finish a manuscript or proposal, find an agent to sell your book. “It often involves being connected through a third party,” says a former literary agency employee. But you don’t have to know someone—you can always cold query an agent. Reach out to one who has a track record selling the kind of book you’re writing. Reading Publishers Lunch, an industry website that’s updated several times a day, can help you find agents who sell your genre.

3. BUILD YOUR PROFILE.

Everyone we talked to agreed: Your viability as an author isn’t exclusively hinged on your writing. Whether it’s completing a regarded MFA program or helming a beloved Twitter account, the options for establishing credibility (and attracting the industry’s attention) are wider than ever. And after your book comes out, it helps to be close to the press. “I always tell young writers it’s beneficial to be in New York a few months before and after their book publishes. It makes a big difference,” one novelist says. 

4. GET THE RIGHT DEAL.

If an agent signs on, she’ll shop your book to editors. “I’ve signed people after attending readings and hearing something really great. That has resulted in a couple of book deals,” one editor says. If multiple editors want your book, they’ll compete for it in a round-robin auction topped by a blind final bid. To determine what to pay at auctions, “we try to look at sales figures of similar books, books that seem comparable to us, especially those that we’ve done before,” the editor says. 

5. MAINTAIN EXPECTATIONS.

Publishing a book is not a get-rich-quick scheme. The house might not even recoup its advance on your book— according to one agent, 60 to 70 percent of books don’t. Popularity can also be illusory. The New York Times bestseller list doesn’t chart total sales but rather sales growth and other stats. And Amazon’s bestseller list functions like a heat map. “If you sell 5000 copies of something and it’s your debut, you’re OK. It’s slow, but you’re not doomed,” one agent says.

6. STAY COMMITTED.

Whatever you do, keep writing and be in it for the long haul. An editor explains: “I ask myself: Is this person committed to being an author? Are they going to, in another couple of years, have something else that we’re going to want to publish?” The road to landing in a bookstore is tough and winding, but as long as you learn to love the entire publishing process—victories, rejections, and everything in between—you’re going to give yourself a decent chance. 


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TASCHEN
Everything You Need to Know About Food in One Book
TASCHEN
TASCHEN

If you find yourself mixing up nigiri and sashimi at sushi restaurants or don’t know which fruits are in season, then this is the book for you. Food & Drink Infographics, published by TASCHEN, is a colorful and comprehensive guide to all things food and drink.

The book combines tips and tricks with historical context about the ways in which different civilizations illustrated and documented the foods they ate, as well as how humans went from hunter-gatherers to modern-day epicureans. As for the infographics, there’s a helpful graphic explaining the number of servings provided by different cake sizes, a heat index of various chilies, a chart of cheeses, and a guide to Italian cold cuts, among other delectable charts.

The 480-page coffee table book, which can be purchased on Amazon for $56, is written in three languages: English, French, and German. The infographics themselves come from various sources, and the text is provided by Simone Klabin, a New York City-based writer and lecturer on film, art, culture, and children’s media.

Keep scrolling to see a few of the infographics featured in the book.

An infographic about cheese
TASCHEN

An infographic about cakes
Courtesy of TASCHEN

An infographic about fruits in season
Courtesy of TASCHEN
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YouTube/Great Big Story
See the Secret Paintings Hidden in Gilded Books
YouTube/Great Big Story
YouTube/Great Big Story

The art of vanishing fore-edge painting—hiding delicate images on the front edges of gilded books—dates back to about 1660. Today, British artist Martin Frost is the last remaining commercial fore-edge painter in the world. He works primarily on antique books, crafting scenes from nature, domestic life, mythology, and Harry Potter. Great Big Story recently caught up with him in his studio to learn more about his disappearing art. Learn more in the video below.

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