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Sea Witch
01-09-2012, 06:34 PM
Does anyone remember "Griffin and Sabine"? How would a writer query a book that requires a strange (and nightmarish for the publisher) format for the finished book?

Thanks

Madison Ready
01-09-2012, 07:17 PM
Can you define 'strange format?'

If it's been done before, it shouldn't be strange to some publishers.

If you're proposing something that will be printed on, say, stone tablets . . . that's going to be a much harder sell.

Can you elaborate?
Madison

Maryn
01-09-2012, 07:39 PM
The book she's referring to has replicas of actual correspondence--envelopes containing letters, postcards, etc. The printing costs will be high.

How that affects your chances, I can't guess. No experience.

Maryn, the great explainicator

suki
01-09-2012, 07:42 PM
Welll...My first thought is, if you know the format will be "nightmareish" have you considered if the format is necessary?

I wasn't familiar with Griffin and Sabine, but I googled...having essentially a pull apart book seems like a long shot for a debut. Impossible? Of course not, but likely? Welll....not sure but I wouldn't bet money on it ;). And since it is so rare, it will likely be an uphill battle. But, you might be able to convince a publisher it's worth it.

The production costs would be ginormous, and the cover cost unlikely to cover them for most genres unless you sold an amazingly huge amount of them - it's a high risk gamble. So, that will be your problem to argue against.

So...I'm back where I started - is this format necessary? And if yes, then, well, I guess you query the text. And if the agent/editor loves the text, you then discuss what you see as the format. And be ready to decide whether you think the format is a deal-breaker - ie, what if the agent wants to sign the book, but will not shop it with the format as a required contractual condition? Or what if a publisher loves the text, but says no to the format?

You should think about those decisions up front - query the text, without reference to the format unless it is essential for understanding the text, but be ready to discuss the format with anyone who shows interest.

Or, you could reach out to the same publiher who published Griffin and Sabine - they would know the realities of production versus return the best. And if Griffin and Sabine was a hit for them, they might be willing to take a chance with something similar.

~suki

Debbie V
01-09-2012, 08:26 PM
You query like any other book, but you include an explanation of the needs of the format. First, make sure your format is possible. Second, include every marketing idea you have in your query. Third, query only publishers who have worked with odd formats before.

In children's, odd formats come up. They are called novelty formats. They include Lift the Flaps, books that seem more like toys, and those with pockets, added touch and feel elements, etc. Publishers with children's novelty divisions might be better bets than those that only do adult novels.

Good luck.

Sea Witch
01-09-2012, 09:27 PM
Thanks very much. I was more curious than anything else. I think it would be very risky to count on a format like that if one doesn't have a publishing track record.....although Griffin and Sabine did make it big...with several sequels....

Filigree
01-09-2012, 11:20 PM
The Griffin and Sabine books were aimed at very small but deep-pocketed niche markets. Novelty formats are more common in art, literature, and New Age markets: not as cheap or easy to print as mass market trade editions, but far more affordable than many small-press book arts editions.

The mass market for such novelties is weaker now than ten years ago, but certain publishers would take a chance on a great new concept. Print sales are coming back in luxury markets. Fine art books, fine-craft book arts pieces, books recycled into art, and luxury library bindings are all topics that have come up in trend and design magazines in the last six months.

Part of my income stems from fine binding and book arts sculptures, so I follow this niche carefully. Most of my work is one-of-a-kind or in editions running under 10 pieces. None of it sells for less than $50 each, and pieces often go into the 1K range.

If I were proposing a new edition in the style of the G&S books, I'd treat it as a proposal, not a query. I'd have my text fully written, and offer complete mock-ups of all extra features. Bear in mind the final product has to sell for no more than $25, to be appealing to the broadest market, so clever timesavers could help the deal.

It could be a rewarding experience, for the right author.

Sea Witch
01-09-2012, 11:35 PM
.....Part of my income stems from fine binding and book arts sculptures, so I follow this niche carefully. Most of my work is one-of-a-kind or in editions running under 10 pieces. None of it sells for less than $50 each, and pieces often go into the 1K range.

If I were proposing a new edition in the style of the G&S books, I'd treat it as a proposal, not a query. I'd have my text fully written, and offer complete mock-ups of all extra features. Bear in mind the final product has to sell for no more than $25, to be appealing to the broadest market, so clever timesavers could help the deal.

It could be a rewarding experience, for the right author.

Filigree, thank you very much. What is a "book arts sculpture?"

So as far as treating it "as a proposal, not a query", don't you still have to query agents before submitting a proposal?

Filigree
01-10-2012, 02:05 AM
I'd query first, by email if possible.

For nonfiction and some layout-intensive fiction, I'd create both a query and a proposal. The 1-page query would contain my hook, a description of the physical uniqueness of the book, my qualifications for writing and marketing it, and my target audience/publisher. I'd make sure I targeted agents known for selling works in the same vein as mine, or at least in the visual arts, crafts, and coffee-table books. I'd offer to send them a full proposal and mock-up on request. The proposal should be longer, with samples of text, outlines, visuals, and mock-ups. Mailing that proposal out is going to cost more than a simple email or posted query!

An idea is not enough, for a project like this. You have to be ready to build the prototype from scratch, with diagrams, patterns, and layouts.

As for 'book arts', that can be anything from collages made out of old books, to small-edition poetry chapbooks with hand-colored prints, to wild and wacky books that are as much sculpture as readable book. I can either waffle on with a description, or send you to look at some award-winning artists.

Vamp and Tramp Booksellers represents several hundred book artists and small fine-presses. You can find them here at www.vampandtramp.com

Artist Books 3.0 is an online gathering of book artists from around the world. They're here: http://artistbooks.ning.com