What authors, agents, editors, and publishers worry about

After more than 50 nonfiction book projects, I can tell you how your various partners are thinking about the book.

What authors worry about

  • What is my idea?
  • What is my title?
  • How long will this take?
  • How can I get this published?
  • Will it actually help me?
  • How am I going to find time for writing?

What authors should worry about that they don’t:

  • Where will the source material (data and stories) come from?
  • What is my plan to divide up the work into manageable pieces?
  • Have I allowed time to pull a full draft together and rewrite?
  • How will I promote the book?

What editors worry about

Here’s what your developmental editor — whether you hired one or have one through your publisher — is worried about:

  • Does each chapter tell a story?
  • Taken together, do the chapters tell a story?
  • Does the story support a single key idea?
  • Is the writing interesting or boring?
  • Is the writing consistent?
  • Is the content truthful or inaccurate?
  • Is the writing believable or not?
  • Is there redundancy?
  • What would it take to make this better?
  • What’s the author’s mental state? How will they accept my suggestions and criticisms?

What publishers worry about

It’s pretty simple:

  • Why the f*** hasn’t legal finished the contract yet?
  • Is the idea still relevant?
  • Is the manuscript in good shape, or a disaster?
  • What is the author doing to promote the book?
  • No, really, what is the author doing to promote the book????
  • Did another book about the same topic come out before this one?
  • How much energy can my publicity staff spend on this, as compared to the other dozen titles we’re working on?
  • How many copies will it sell?

What agents worry about

Same list as the publisher list.

A final note

Authors: I know you have a lot on your mind.

But try thinking about your book from the editor’s and publisher’s perspective a bit.

It will help you be successful (and less focused on stuff that really doesn’t matter).

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