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Pitching A Book To Publishers


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Hi guys

 

I'd originally posted this in the Library, but was advised to post it here.

 

Anyone have military-specific advice for pitching a book to publishers? I have what I think is an interesting non-fiction military affairs topic, I have experience with the topic, and I think it would make a good non-fiction, illustrated book. I've cold-pitched it to a couple of publishers recently - including Osprey, which I thought would be an ideal fit for the subject, style and content - but was pretty unceremoniously shot down. With no explanation other that something to the effect of my "book is not suitable." Another publisher passed as he doubted the availability of high-resolution historical photos for illustrations, as he publishes photo-heavy books primarily aimed at modelers and vehicle enthusiasts. If I'm able to dig up sufficient numbers of attractive photos on my subject, he might be interested in the future. Unfortunately, I am not a very good photographer and I live OCONUS and don't get back often enough to dive into NARA's photo library.

 

My pitch was about five pages, with an author's statement, author information, and a fairly detailed outline. I also included separate pdfs of sample images (some from my own collection, some from US military sources) and my working bibliography.

 

I've looked online at places that offer advice on pitching non-fiction, and followed their advice, but I'm a bit disheartened. I know some of you are published authors in the realm of military history and military affairs, so do you have any advice? Can you share your experiences - how did you get picked up by the publisher? Did you approach them or did they approach you based on previous work? How did you present your idea to them? How did it change between concept and publishing? How long did it take you?

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  • 2 months later...

Outside of having personal contacts with a press, it would be best to get published in journals to which you have access, aiming at a book review, commentary and eventually an article or two. These will serve as needed writing samples for a book proposal. Most publishers offer guidance for new authors online, and some OTOH do not accept unsolicited proposals. Good starting points for you might be Routledge, Osprey, Pen and Sword and Naval Institute Press [they publish in general, not just naval].

 

Go to book fairs [Frankfurt's is one of the largest] and talk to the persons representing presses in the exhibition hall that publish in your field of interest. In many cases the publisher rep you meet there will be an acquisitions editor looking for new stuff and you can obtain candid appraisals of your proposal and suggestions on how you might interest their press or others for that part. Also try professional meetings such as the annual meeting of the Society for Military History or equivalent in the country where you reside.

 

In your spare time, take a writer's course, but in any case try to obtain exposure in print in some fashion. Good luck is needed but you can do things to enhance your chances.

 

Shoot me a PM with your e-mail and I'll send you a copy of a successful book proposal, not my own. I'm co-editor of a series for Routledge. It would help if you related details of what you are trying to do.

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Outside of having personal contacts with a press, it would be best to get published in journals to which you have access, aiming at a book review, commentary and eventually an article or two. These will serve as needed writing samples for a book proposal. Most publishers offer guidance for new authors online, and some OTOH do not accept unsolicited proposals. Good starting points for you might be Routledge, Osprey, Pen and Sword and Naval Institute Press [they publish in general, not just naval].

 

Go to book fairs [Frankfurt's is one of the largest] and talk to the persons representing presses in the exhibition hall that publish in your field of interest. In many cases the publisher rep you meet there will be an acquisitions editor looking for new stuff and you can obtain candid appraisals of your proposal and suggestions on how you might interest their press or others for that part. Also try professional meetings such as the annual meeting of the Society for Military History or equivalent in the country where you reside.

 

In your spare time, take a writer's course, but in any case try to obtain exposure in print in some fashion. Good luck is needed but you can do things to enhance your chances.

 

Shoot me a PM with your e-mail and I'll send you a copy of a successful book proposal, not my own. I'm co-editor of a series for Routledge. It would help if you related details of what you are trying to do.

 

That's great advice - thank you. I'm actually a pretty experienced writer, but for limited dissemination government publications with a very specific style. A writing course could help my writing style become more... accessible. The Frankfurt book fair is doable - I hadn't considered shopping my pitch in person like that. I'll PM you, too.

 

Hellfish, have you tried Harpia publishing? http://www.harpia-publishing.com/node/12

 

I hadn't only because they're aviation-focused and this book is about ground forces. I need to pick the books of theirs I have out of my storage box to remind myself of their style, but it's worth a shot.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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