Thursday, April 28, 2011

Repost: Dedicated To David

Dear readers, I promise this will be my last irate post on David. Read to the end though, and you'll understand why it simply had to be posted.

Those of you who stopped by yesterday will recall our dear friend "David" (that's his actual name, I'm just putting it in quotes because I don't like him). Read the post below for more background on "David."

Why do people insist on offering misinformation on subjects they know nothing about? And why do I let it bother me so much?

Today there was another LinkedIn question that caught my eye - an author looking for information on submitting an idea for a For Dummies book. For Dummies is published by John Wiley & Sons. I worked in editorial for Wiley for years, although not on the For Dummies books, so I thought, "Hey! Question I'll know the answer to!"

And there, waiting for me, was our good friend "David."

David offered the following advice (this is all paraphrased).

(1) No one in publishing is buying anything anymore. Especially not self-help books. Don't even try.
(2) The economy stinks, so books are no longer being published. Don't even try. 
(3) If you do try, HIRE an agent with an NDA in place so the publishing house DOESN'T STEAL YOUR IDEA.

I tried to post my response. But, horrors - when I hit send there was an error! I tried again! Another error! I kept trying for another half hour, because I'm apparently in need of a chill pill.

So, having finally given up, my response to the poor, misinformed author is posted below. I hope, by some miracle, he finds it on the great interwebs.

"Hi [Author]. Wiley, the For Dummies publisher (and my past employer) won't generally accept unsolicited submissions. For most of the titles, the editors come up with subjects they want to market, then go out and find experts.

If you are an expert in a certain field and already have a great platform that proves you're the go-to guy for your subject, pitch the idea to an agent with great nonfiction credentials. If an agent thinks Wiley might want it, he or she should be able to get the editors to take a look. The official author guidelines are discussed in the link below.

And now, to debunk another response posted earlier:

(1) The Dummies book market is not saturated. There are, in fact, over fifty new titles being printed in this series this year alone. I'd count the 2008 titles, but it's almost lunch time, and it would take too long.

(2) Almost all publishers are still buying new books from new authors. Larger publishers don't take unsolicited manuscripts, but that has nothing to do with the economy; it's been that way for a very long time. Some small publishers still accept unsolicited manuscripts and are making no changes that indicate they will do otherwise in the future.

(3) An agent is a good idea, but mention an NDA and they will, at best, have a good laugh. This is not how publishing works. And, despite conspiracy theories, respectable publishers don't steal ideas.

Good luck [Author], and please feel free to e-mail me off-board if you have any questions."

No comments:

Post a Comment