I Need Help with Writing a Book on the Economic System

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Tom1955

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Hello,

I wonder if you folks could kindly help me with a special request.

Any assistance you can provide would be deeply appreciated!

I’ve compiled material for a book about the economic system for laypeople who consider economics to be a difficult and boring subject.

The book describes economic concepts in easy to understand terms.

The book details how capitalism is an unjust system, provides a history of the U.S. economy, discusses what a more just economic system would look like, and presents solutions to economic problems.

I would like the title of the book to be “Understanding the Political Economy: A Guide for the 99 Percent.”

I believe the book is unique partly because it doesn’t focus too much on economic principles but rather examines the historical developments and political issues that have shaped the economic system into a system that benefits the few and does little for the mass of people.

I believe the book can help people understand how and why the economy fails to work for ordinary people and what an alternative economic system would look like.

I have written over 350 pages, (using Times Roman 12 point font).

I believe the book has a reasonable organizational structure and interesting content.

However, a lot of the material needs to be rewritten, edited, some material needs to be discarded, other material needs to be added, some material needs to be reorganized, etc.

So a lot of work still needs to be done.

Unfortunately, I’m not a writer and I don’t have strong writing skills.

To make matters worse, I’m suffering from neurological issues that have limited my ability to focus and work.

So I need help in finishing the project.

I placed an ad on Craigslist seeking a Co-author.

I mentioned in my ad that I couldn’t pay the co-author but that I would gladly give him or her 50% of the profits, i.e., if the book made any profits. However, I didn’t receive any response to my ad, which is understandable since most people are looking for paid employment.

I therefore placed another ad on Craigslist stating that I was willing to pay $15 per hour for 80 hours of work.

Although I would like to find someone who can review and rewrite the entire book, since I have been out of work for over 5 years – due to neurological issues – I don’t have the funds to do that.

I therefore figured I could possibly find someone who could review and rewrite only certain, limited sections of the book.

I don’t know if my strategy will work, but my plan is to give the writer 80 hours of work now, see how this person does, and then give the writer another 80 hours of work later.

After that, I will have to finalize everything on my own since I don’t have a budget to seek any further assistance.

In response to my recent ad on Craigslist, I’ve received about 20 resumes from people who have expressed an interest in helping me.

I would like to ask for your kind help regarding the following issues.

1. How can I ensure that the writer who works with me does not use some of my material and publishes it on his own?

Would I have to sign some sort of contract with him specifically addressing this issue?

If so, is there a sample contract that I can find on some website or reference book that I can use for this purpose?

2. If I’m able to eventually find a publisher for the book, would they have a writer on staff who could help with the writing?

At this time, I need someone’s help to finish the book and rewrite portions of it so that it will be in an acceptable form so that a publisher would be willing to consider it.

But since I lack strong writing skills and the writer I hire won’t be able to rewrite many sections of the book due to my limited budget, I think I will need someone else to review the material and improve it.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could kindly provide me with any guidance, advice and assistance.

Thank you very much for your kind attention, time, patience and help!

Tom
 

cornflake

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There are several things here, so I'll try to answer your questions first (though you've written 350 pages of something, so you shouldn't say you're not a writer or can't write) --

A contract is a good idea, though your book is copyrighted automatically once you've written it. You don't need a specific contract; you can write a plain one stating that the work is yours and the person agrees to do X for Y pay and to not disclose or use any of the information... etc. If it's signed by both parties, it's a contract.

No, a publisher will not help you with writing. Publishers do have editors, who advise on editing, but you have to write and make those editing changes yourself.

However, non-fiction works don't need to be complete to send to publishers or agents (these are different groups -- do not send anything to both agents and publishers at the same time. Pick one path and stick with it.). Most non-fiction works are queried by proposal. A proposal is a whole thing, for which there is a standard format you can find online. It includes, basically, a summary of the work, who you are and why you're qualified to write the work, a breakdown of the chapters that would be included, along with some sample chapters, a marketing section, with information about the current market for the work, including comparable titles, where the work would fall and why it's needed, how it could be marketed and promoted, etc.

If you're looking for an agent, you generally send a query letter and then the proposal if they want it. Publishers that accept unsolicited works depend -- they have guidelines on their websites.
 

Maryn

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I fear you're not going to get professional-level work with the amount you are able to pay. What it sounds like you need is either writing, heavy copyediting, or maybe developmental editing. The Editorial Freelancers Association says typical pay rates for those tasks start at $40 an hour.

That's the bad news. The good news is that you can do a proposal without having a completed work that you're satisfied with, just as cornflake says.

You can also consider honing your skills as a writer. If you've mastered economics, you already know that working hard at mastery produces good results, just not quickly.

Maryn, pleased to meet you
 

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My first thought is, PLEASE be careful.

You are very unlikely to find the help you need via Craigslist. Don't take this route.

You don't need a finished book to get a contract. Instead, write the first few chapters and a proposal for the book. Get it really tight. There are a few books which can help you here: there's one by Susan Page which is out of print now, I think, but it's a very good guide to writing a strong proposal. There are others.

Once you've got your proposal and accompanying material ready, research publishing, publishers, and agents. I would advise you to look for a literary agent, if possible.

If you're struggling to even write the first few chapters then there are writers' conferences you can attend where you'll be able to attend talks and go to workshops to get things straight. This will be cheaper than paying for someone to rewrite your book for you, and it will give you skills you can use for the next book and the next.

But please bear in mind that most publishers will only take books about economics which are written by economists, and so if you don't have any degree of reputation or qualification here, you are going to struggle.
 

Tom1955

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Thanks Cornflake for your kind help.

I will write a simple contract along the lines you suggested.

Thank you for letting me know about the fact that publishers won’t do any of the writing themselves.

I was hoping they would help with the writing but I guess I was wrong about that. 

It seems like there is a very specific and detailed procedure related to how to approach and prepare a proposal for publishers and agents.

I was totally unaware of that.

Thank you so much for your valuable advice and guidance! I greatly appreciate it! Thanks again!

- - - Updated - - -

Thanks Maryn for your kind help. It’s nice to meet you as well.

Thank you for the information regarding the rates charged by Editors and the link to the Association.

Although I’m sure the editors are worth every penny they charge, unfortunately, I can’t afford those rates.

So for now I’ll try to inquire through sources other than Craigslist to see if I can find a co-author who would be willing to split the profits of the book with me – assuming there will be any - on an equal basis.

And if I still can’t find anyone, I’ll have to continue on my current path and then try my best to improve my writing skills and revise and edit the book myself.

Thank you once again!
 

Tom1955

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Thank you Old Hack for your kind advice.

I will check out the book from Susan Page about how to write a proposal. Thanks for letting me know about it.

Since I don’t know anything about publishing, I think your recommendation that I should get a literary agent is sound advice.

I will look into attending writer’s conferences to try improve my writing skills.

Unfortunately, I’m not an economist and I don’t even have a degree in economics.

In my opinion, this could be a plus since economists write in a dry, technical language, insert a lot of charts and graphs, etc.

I’m trying to communicate with layman who dislike or can’t understand economics because of the technical stuff.

The book is really about the “political” economy rather than economics. It’s more about the historical and political events that have shaped the economy.

So for example, instead of talking about how unions helped bring about minimum wage laws, the 40 hour workweek, etc., I relate the stories of the Ludlow Massacre and the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire and how that changed public opinion and helped pave the way for labor reforms.

But I see your point. Yes, I agree. It will be very difficult to find a publisher since I’m not an economist and I don’t have a degree in economics.

Thanks again for your time and kind help!
 

Tom1955

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Thanks Maryn for your kind help. It’s nice to meet you as well.

Thank you for the information regarding the rates charged by Editors and the link to the Association.

Although I’m sure the editors are worth every penny they charge, unfortunately, I can’t afford those rates.

So for now I’ll try to inquire through sources other than Craigslist to see if I can find a co-author who would be willing to split the profits of the book with me – assuming there will be any - on an equal basis.

And if I still can’t find anyone, I’ll have to continue on my current path and then try my best to improve my writing skills and revise and edit the book myself.

Thank you once again!
 

cornflake

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Thanks Cornflake for your kind help.

I will write a simple contract along the lines you suggested.

Thank you for letting me know about the fact that publishers won’t do any of the writing themselves.

I was hoping they would help with the writing but I guess I was wrong about that. 

It seems like there is a very specific and detailed procedure related to how to approach and prepare a proposal for publishers and agents.

I was totally unaware of that.

Thank you so much for your valuable advice and guidance! I greatly appreciate it! Thanks again!

- - - Updated - - -

Thanks Maryn for your kind help. It’s nice to meet you as well.

Thank you for the information regarding the rates charged by Editors and the link to the Association.

Although I’m sure the editors are worth every penny they charge, unfortunately, I can’t afford those rates.

So for now I’ll try to inquire through sources other than Craigslist to see if I can find a co-author who would be willing to split the profits of the book with me – assuming there will be any - on an equal basis.

And if I still can’t find anyone, I’ll have to continue on my current path and then try my best to improve my writing skills and revise and edit the book myself.

Thank you once again!

There is a procedure, which Old Hack's info will help with, and publishers do not write, no.

You will not, I'm sorry to tell you, find anyone with any experience or relevant knowledge willing to split future profits with you. If someone does agree to that, I'd be very wary. Everyone who writes has been approached by people saying they have a great idea, great story, etc, and they just need help with the writing, so how about... It happens all the time. The answer is always no; this is a job, for which I am qualified and experienced. Thus I don't work for free. Also, ideas are a dime a dozen, and every writer knows it -- it's not about finding an idea, it's about executing it.

The good news here is that you don't just have an idea, you have 350 pages of something, so if you produced that, you can learn to fix it.

Thank you Old Hack for your kind advice.

I will check out the book from Susan Page about how to write a proposal. Thanks for letting me know about it.

Since I don’t know anything about publishing, I think your recommendation that I should get a literary agent is sound advice.

I will look into attending writer’s conferences to try improve my writing skills.

Unfortunately, I’m not an economist and I don’t even have a degree in economics.

In my opinion, this could be a plus since economists write in a dry, technical language, insert a lot of charts and graphs, etc.

I’m trying to communicate with layman who dislike or can’t understand economics because of the technical stuff.

The book is really about the “political” economy rather than economics. It’s more about the historical and political events that have shaped the economy.

So for example, instead of talking about how unions helped bring about minimum wage laws, the 40 hour workweek, etc., I relate the stories of the Ludlow Massacre and the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire and how that changed public opinion and helped pave the way for labor reforms.


But I see your point. Yes, I agree. It will be very difficult to find a publisher since I’m not an economist and I don’t have a degree in economics.

Thanks again for your time and kind help!

That is not a plus, no, sorry. There are plenty of books on economics written for a lay audience, by economists. This is part of the market research portion of your proposal -- you need to know the actual market, competitors, etc.

I'm not sure I understand the bolded -- those events did change public opinion, which led to the rise of unions....
 

Fruitbat

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Not having official credentials doesn't mean you don't know your topic but it probably does mean an agent or decent-sized press will not be interested in your book. They want verifiable experts. Your best bet imo is to self-publish it.

In your situation, I think your best bet for polishing it first is to get involved in the critique process in the Share Your Work section. You need 50 substantive posts to start posting your own chapters but earning some of those by critiquing for others there builds goodwill and imo is also the best way to improve your writing skills quickly. Then, you can try to get some beta readers. Beta-ing other nonfiction books yourself would help you build your writing and editing skills hugely, too. It also helps very much imo if you can get someone to read your manuscript to you out loud while you both stop to discuss it and fix it when something sounds "off." The ears catch what the eyes miss. It will need to be gone over several times with help from your peers, but you can get it into shape with time and effort rather than with money. This is an especially good idea if you plan to write more than one book.

Ways to build up your name are: self-publishing more than one book on your topic, starting a website/blog on your topic, and getting some articles on your topic published.

Good luck. :)
 
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Tom1955

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Thanks Fruitbat for sharing your thoughts and advice.

Your ideas are sound and logical.

However, unfortunately, I’m rather old and in poor health which makes it difficult for me to concentrate, think and work.

So I don’t think I can learn how to write.

Besides, I think writing is a skill that some people have and some don’t. (I don’t).

If you have it, I think you can improve on it but if you don’t, there isn’t much you can do. I could be wrong, but that’s my opinion.

I realize the prospects for my book getting published are quite poor.

But even if it doesn’t get published, I think the effort has been worthwhile.

I’m not an economist and so by working on the book, I’ve learned a lot.

And I hope as a layman I can communicate the ideas in the book in a manner that other layman can easily understand and find interesting.

If I’m unable to publish the book, I will try to post the entire material on a website so that people can access it and read it for free.

I honestly think it can make a difference in ordinary people’s understanding about how the economy “works.” And if it does, then I think the effort will have been worthwhile.

Thank you once again for taking the time to provide me with some valuable guidance. I wish I was in a position to take advantage of your advice. I do appreciate your time and help!
 

Tom1955

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Thanks for your time and help, Cornflake.

I’ve looked at a number of books that economists have written for laypeople and, in my opinion, they aren’t very helpful.

In my opinion, professional economists don’t know how to communicate with ordinary people.

In my view, they’ve written books…..just to write books….whether for profits….to meet a publisher’s deadline…etc……But I’ve had a hard time learning much from their books and I don’t think they are terribly interested in educating the common man and woman.

Of course, that could only be me. Perhaps other laypeople have been able to understand the explanations provided by professional economists.

As far as I know, there is only one economist who knows how to explain complicated concepts in simple terms that any layman can understand. He does an awesome job and is truly committed to educating ordinary people.

Although he is doing extremely valuable work, unfortunately, he gives talks and lectures and doesn’t write any books for layman so it’s hard to get a comprehensive and comprehensive understanding of the subject in 1 or 2 hour presentations.

The bold statements are an example of the type of material that is listed in my book’s chapter about unions.

In my opinion, events such as the Ludlow Massacre, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the Haymarket Square Riot, etc. will provide an interesting and vivid account of the struggles that the unions had to wage in order to obtain certain rights in the workplace, and these stories will also show how much violence capitalists used to suppress workers. Unfortunately, these accounts are usually omitted in books.

I think what makes a book interesting are the topics that are selected and included….and what topics are excluded…..by the author. There is a wealth of material one can include in a book about the economy. What you choose depends on your class bias, your values, what you consider is important, etc.

I may be totally wrong, but I’m hoping that readers may find the material that I have chosen and included in the book to be interesting.

Thank you once again for your time and kind assistance!
 

Fruitbat

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If you're really set on not doing it yourself, I don't think that means you have to give up on it.

Maybe you could save up some money for some thorough help with it, or settle for someone who just has good basic writing skills at a lower price, if that's how it has to be. You can always post a link of whoever you're thinking about paying to help you and see what others here think of it, and/or have them do one chapter only at first and see what you think of their skills. I mean, optimal is nice but if that is just not going to work, just getting it done is better than not getting to do it, right?Good luck.
 
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mccardey

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What about working up your ideas into a series of articles, Tom, and trying to place them as guest-articles on appropriate blogs or with journals or magazines? If you have a local paper, that's often a good place to start. The book could come later.
 

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