The book is pretty much written - now what?

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Status
Not open for further replies.

Hathor

Goddess of Rationalization
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
5,496
Reaction score
321
Location
In de Nile
Hey, I'm sorry. I should say I will go to Amazon and buy your book ;)
 

helga

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Apr 29, 2006
Messages
80
Reaction score
7
Location
just outside the mainstream world
Website
www.freewebs.com
Have you ever read "The Incident of the Curious Dog in the Nighttime"? It is written from the point of view, and voice, of someone with autism. The author had worked with autistic children, I believe. You see how someone with autism thinks in the course of following the story being told.
.

Oh, yes, I've read it and many, many others on the subject - I have a huge 'autism library' at home.


As you know, parents of special needs children listen to other parents. Often they are are best source of unbiased information or, at least, good leads in the search for such information. Part of my book is explaining how one finds reliable information, since I obviously can't describe every special need out there or every approach that may come down the pike. Just for autism alone there are probably scores being advocated.

If I do find success, it will probably be if I find an agent and then a publisher with a special needs child. Then they will understand :D

I tried to look for an agent, but after a couple of rejections I decided to approach the publisher directly and they offered me a contract.
 

Hathor

Goddess of Rationalization
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
5,496
Reaction score
321
Location
In de Nile
Helga,

Since you have a huge library at home (my kinda gal :D), tell me: what books do you think I should compare mine to in the book proposal? I'm not restricting myself to autism books because my daughter wasn't autistic, just kind of autistic (like). She was put in the preschool autism program for a year (with ABA therapy) because no one else would take her and she was said to present many of the same needs. I guess that is part of my problem because she wasn't this, that or the other. Looking at the definitions today, the one that would seem to best describe her then isn't found in DSM, but rather the international category of "atypical autism" (which wasn't even around at the time). But then she got over it, so some would say she couldn't really have had it, despite what her symptoms were at the time.

In my years as a special needs parent, I didn't really find any books that bore on my daughter's needs directly. I would pick them up and discover they would be talking about a child or children far different. I had a couple books on special education law and advocacy and that was it.

I suppose I should look at Jenny McCarthy's book because it has probably had the most success. Readily distinguishable: I'm not a famous, blond, ex-Playbook centerfold who is off on an antivaccination campaign. Well, I'm sure there are other differences in our books, I just haven't looked at it yet.

Since you've read a lot in the field, I would be most interested in your impressions of her book. If you wish to respond to me privately about this, feel free.

What about the Einstein Syndrome? Not that my daughter fits into that one either. But it is similar to the extent that she was language-delayed, thought to be (sorta, kinda, like) autistic, and ended up doing very well academically. I've thought this was a possible book to mention anyway. If you've read it or heard discussions about it, I would be interested in hearing about it. I just heard about this book after Michael Savage came in for that firestorm of criticism for saying that autistic children were just poorly parented brats (or words to that effect). He ended up on his website saying, well, there are these kids that are diagnosed as autistic but really aren't, citing this book. I doubt it supports his original claim at all, but I guess he had to come up with something.

Oh well, I would worry about taking the discussion off the original thread. But I started it, so I suppose I can hijack it!
 

underthecity

Finestkind
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 13, 2005
Messages
3,126
Reaction score
768
Location
Near Cincinnati
Website
www.allensedge.com
Hathor,

Thanks for offering a more detailed account of your project. Now that I know more about you and your subject matter, I think I can comment more efficiently.

I have researched. I will do more and I have said I will do more. Why can't people take me at my word?
I believed that you have done research. I also believe that if you're here at AW asking questions about agents and publishers, then your book is extremely far along and possibly ready for submission. But, we really didn't know any details about your project. Whenever a fairly new poster comes in to ask questions, we have to ask more questions to glean more information so we can help you, if that's what you want.

I was asked for more of a description of my book. So here goes:
I won't quote everything you've detailed because that would be redundant in my post here. What you've described sounds interesting and potentially very helpful to other people in your situation, which, according to what I've seen in the news, is quite a few people. So I think your book is needed (not that I've ever doubted it) and I hope you pursue this thing to the end. Actually, I expect you to. :)

BTW the editor to whom my expert wanted to put in a good word about me is a small press and most assuredly not a vanity one. Assuming that also seemed like a putdown.
This is good to hear. Regarding my earlier comment about vanity presses that seemed like a "putdown," please be assured that my question was a legitimate one. Since I don't know you or your publication savviness, you may or may not be familiar with vanity presses and how to recognize one. We see a LOT of new posters at AW who mention friends having gone through outfits like PA or authorhouse and recommended them. Many people don't know how publishing works. So, my statement to you was a suggestion, possibly a warning, to remind you check on any publisher recommended to you by anyone, even anyone well-meaning.

In the book, I have lots of legal analysis and lots of citation and quotation of medical and educational authorities. It seems strange to couch what I've done as simply self-help, particularly when the advocacy aspects are extremely strong in the book. I wrote the book to try to change things, not simply to tell the tale of my family.
And it's a noble cause, and many books have been published that try to change things. I understand the point about not telling the tale about your family. So, given what you've said above, the book definitely is not a memoir. It does kind of border on education and not self-help. Tricky. I personally would lean toward education.

I reacted the way I did because I was asked, "Are you an expert?" I was repeatedly dismissed by the local school system and told "research shows" that model X was best for all children -- even though my daughter got A's in model Y and was happy in it, but in model X she was getting D's and was terribly unhappy.
My older sister was in a similar situation with her own son who had to be pulled out of public school because he had some sort of developmental delay in talking. Since he couldn't communicate, he would get frustrated and bite other children. After a LOT of drama and back-and-forth discussions regarding experts and what was right and wrong, and how to properly handle him, my sister had to put him into a different school, got him a special tutor, and was able to get him properly taught. He's 8, now I think. My sister believes he did have early(?) autism and was able to treat it. Perhaps a book like yours could have helped.

Regarding your being an expert in the field, I asked that because it helps when selling a particular book. An agent needs to know your platform because it helps to sell the book to a publisher. (Say, a heart surgeon who writes a book about new methods in treating heart disease. On the flipside, if I wrote a book on treating heart disease based on my limited experience on the subject. The agent gets both proposals and accepts the heart surgeon and rejects mine.)


I've done extensive research on all the issues I raise. (I'm a lawyer by training, so I can research.) . . . I have years of experience as an activist in trying to improve local special education
This tells me your platform is a lawyer and activist. This is good. This information is vital to selling your book to an agent. :) And I like how you've vetted your book with so many other professionals. I never doubted your approach, I just didn't know what it was.


I haven't yet seen anything quite like my book and none of my readers have either. What we see are books on different parts of what I get into (this particular disability or that one [although my daughter's labeling kept changing and she defied categorization], special education law, how to advocate for your child, homeschooling, works on inclusion designed for educators, etc.) Then there are a few areas where there is no lay discussion of the issues from my point of view at all (at least I've yet to find them, I haven't finished looking), such as a comprehensive negative analysis of full inclusion (legally, economically, educationally, and philosophically) or the lack of evidence for sensory integration therapy for other than sensory issues.
This tells me there is definitely a niche for this book. You could use most of this paragraph in your proposal to describe how your book is different than all the rest.

Wh
at I've done is written the book that I wish had been available to me as a special needs parent.
This is usually a reason why many people write nonfiction books. I have submitted a proposal to a publisher (on a different subject) for the very same reason.

I guess when I get in the process of research further I may see the need to go to an agent and say explicitly, "My book is genre X." I don't see right now why I can't simply go in and say I have written this book, and describe it. If an agent covers all the types of books my book might be said to be in certain respects, I don't see the problem. Do they have a checklist or something where you have to tell them your book is all in one category? It would seem this would stifle creativity.
You can just query an agent like you've described, provided he represents the nonfiction genres that your book falls into. No, they don't have a "checklist" as you mention, but an agency website will detail what they accept regarding nonfiction. Usually it's more than one genre.

Okay, here's one example. Heidi Lange of Sanford Greenburger Agency. On her page, she states that she represents health, family and parenting, and social issues, among others. I would say that your book would be a good match for query to this agency, because it includes all three aspects.

With all that said, what would you like to know? My unsolicited recommendation is that you try querying a few agents right now and write the proposal. An agent will know that the information in the proposal is subject to change given later rewrites and such. If it would be any help at all, I could share the proposal I wrote for a book I'd like to write on a subject I'm familiar with. One publisher has the proposal now, and I'm waiting for the acceptance or rejection.
 

Hathor

Goddess of Rationalization
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
5,496
Reaction score
321
Location
In de Nile
Wow, Allen, thanks. :Hug2:

Now that I have my book in the hands of a number of people, having the time to do all this research is useful. It keeps me from nagging them :)

I've been looking into guides to book proposals and book publicity and there seem to be quite a few. Once I get a list, I'm going to look on AW and see if people have discussed them and also look at the reviews on Amazon.

Is there any better way to find out what might be the best, say, two books on each subject? I don't have the time to read every one. Fortunately, quite a few books are available from my local library. I have to try to avoid my usual research-everything-to-death syndrome. It probably isn't necessary for me to read absolutely everything written on the subject (books and web sites) over the next 5 months before I send a single query.

If anyone has a favorite, or wants to warn me off a particular book, let me know.

I've also run across the writerswrite web site and have been reading some of their articles. One guy says to seek out testimonials when in the manuscript stage. He says you should ask after they've read the book (actually he suggests sending out individual chapters, but I don't think that would work for my book) -- and you ask for a testimonial maybe like ... and then you give them something you've written yourself. Most of the time the reader will just put their name on what you've written, or so he says. This seems a bit off to me. Any feedback? I think all of the folks who have my book or will likely get it are capable of expressing themselves and would be offended if I did this. Maybe this procedure just applies to self-publishing ...

It looks like I have my work cut out for me. I do want to get started querying, but I figure I should have a nicely polished query letter and not something I just dash off. (I'll post on the SYW board here and share it with those who have read the book.) I obviously need to work on how to accurately describe my book in a short space ... since I spent a lot of time telling people, "Oh, no, my book isn't like that at all!" :D I also want to have my book proposal done if lightning strikes and an agent asks right away to see it.


My expert says he will write a forward by New Year's Day. Do you (and I mean everyone here) think I should have the forward in hand before I query, so the forward could be a part of the book proposal? Or perhaps forwards usually aren't included. I will have to do research on that.


Thanks again. It seems like once I explain my book enough, lots of people come up with special needs in their families, even learning problems they themselves experienced, and are interested. But it is getting past readers' feelings of "too many books, too little time" that I think will be key for me. I was reading about how many seconds someone will look at your book in a book store (or reading your query letter) before moving on. Pretty frightening, even if it is understandable.
 

byarvin

Here!
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 8, 2006
Messages
84
Reaction score
7
Location
Pennsylvania
Website
www.brianyarvin.com
No to the Forward

Hathor:

I'm going to suggest you say "no" to the offer of a forward. Why? Because it may touch on points that don't appear in the final text. Such a document may make potential agents or publishers think you're wedded to one format or another or will be touchy about rewriting or restructuring.

Right now, it's YOUR time. Time for you to pull your own ideas together and write that great proposal. Bring the passion you've brought to this board to the pitch and you'll have a best seller. I can feel it and I'll be the editors will too.
 

Autodidact

...in my Maidenform Bra.
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 10, 2008
Messages
2,037
Reaction score
159
Location
Queen City of the Plains
Have you read Born on a Blue Day? It's a memoir by a savant/high functioning aspergers guy, and includes a lot of factual information as well. Also it's a really good book.

On a completely different subject, I'm reading the best-seller Born to Run right now. It's written by a journalist, and is about 40% memoir, 20% reporting and 40% science. He mixes the anthropology and evolution in a very suspenseful way that really keeps you turning the pages. Very colorful writer.
 

Hathor

Goddess of Rationalization
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
5,496
Reaction score
321
Location
In de Nile
Hathor:

I'm going to suggest you say "no" to the offer of a forward. Why? Because it may touch on points that don't appear in the final text. Such a document may make potential agents or publishers think you're wedded to one format or another or will be touchy about rewriting or restructuring.

Right now, it's YOUR time. Time for you to pull your own ideas together and write that great proposal. Bring the passion you've brought to this board to the pitch and you'll have a best seller. I can feel it and I'll be the editors will too.

I appreciate your point. My concern is with showing that I'm not just some parent who is trying to extrapolate from one child and claim I have the answers that have eluded the experts. There seem to be plenty of those books. I'm more of a "look at the science, folks" sort of gal. My expert knows the science.

Other advice I've read has said that, with nonfiction, if one lacks credentials it is important to find someone with credentials that can lend credibility to what you say.

I guess it is a chicken-and-egg problem. I feel like jumping on getting that forward written now while he still has the book in mind and the time. Whatever changes the book may undergo later, I think that the issues with which the professor has been concerned in his career will still be addressed in my book. Those issues are core to my daughter's story: when education followed what he recommends she thrived, and when his recommendations weren't followed her grades tanked. I guess that is why he is interested!

Once I get hold of some book proposal books, I'll have to see what they say. Or perhaps I should start a new thread about when to get forwards written? He's not writing the forward now; he is going through the book again to see if he can suggest any little tweaks. I can always tell him to hold off on the forward for now.

Well, it is back to trying to write a preface, something short that can grab people's interest and tell them what the book is about. It would be nice to use it as a query, but my first shot at it is probably too long. But my husband (my most dreaded editor so far :ROFL:) claims he can take anything I write and make it half as long. Yeah, maybe, but not without a lot of argument ...
 

Hathor

Goddess of Rationalization
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
5,496
Reaction score
321
Location
In de Nile
Have you read Born on a Blue Day? It's a memoir by a savant/high functioning aspergers guy, and includes a lot of factual information as well. Also it's a really good book.

Nope, I haven't. I'll look it up. Thanks!
 

helga

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Apr 29, 2006
Messages
80
Reaction score
7
Location
just outside the mainstream world
Website
www.freewebs.com
Helga,

Since you have a huge library at home (my kinda gal :D), tell me: what books do you think I should compare mine to in the book proposal? I'm not restricting myself to autism books because my daughter wasn't autistic, just kind of autistic (like). She was put in the preschool autism program for a year (with ABA therapy) because no one else would take her and she was said to present many of the same needs. I guess that is part of my problem because she wasn't this, that or the other. Looking at the definitions today, the one that would seem to best describe her then isn't found in DSM, but rather the international category of "atypical autism" (which wasn't even around at the time). But then she got over it, so some would say she couldn't really have had it, despite what her symptoms were at the time.

In my years as a special needs parent, I didn't really find any books that bore on my daughter's needs directly. I would pick them up and discover they would be talking about a child or children far different. I had a couple books on special education law and advocacy and that was it.

Hi,
Sorry, I’ve been away. These are just a few titles you might find useful.
Paul Collins "Not Even Wrong: A Father’s Journey into the Lost History of Autism";
Clara Claiborne Park "The Siege: A Family Journey into the World of an Autistic Child";
Brenda Boyd Parenting a Child with Asperger Syndrome";
Jacqui Jackson "Multicoloured Mayhem: Parenting the Many Shades of Adolescents and Children with Autism."
Ann Hewetson "Laughter and Tears: A Family’s Journey to Understanding the Autism Spectrum";
Ruth Birnbaum "Choosing a School for a Child with Special Needs"
Bill Davis "Breaking Autism Barriers: A Father’s Story";
Robert Hughes "Running with Walker: A Memoir";
Kate Rankin "Growing Up Severely Autistic: They Call Me Gabriel";
Maud Deckmar "My Son Fred – Living With Autism: How Could You Manage? I Couldn’t. I did It Anyway";
Robert Naseef "Special Children, Challenged Parents: The Struggles and Rewards of Raising a Child with a Disability";
Olga Holland "The Dragons of Autism: Autism as a Source of Wisdon";
Eustacia Cutler "A Thorn in My Pocket: Temple Grandin’s Mother Tells the Family Story";
Jan Starr Campio "Supporting Parenting: Becoming an Advocate for Your Child with Special Needs"
Matthew Cohen "A Guide to Special Education Advocacy: What Parents, Clinicians and Advocates Need to Know"
DeAnn Hyatt-Foley and M. Foley "Getting Services for Your Child on the Autism Spectrum" ;
Olga Holland "Teaching at Home: A New Approach to Tutoring Children With Autism and Asperger Syndrome";
Lise Pyles "Homeschooling the Child with Asperger Syndrome: Real Help for Parents Anywhere and on Any Budget".
 

Hathor

Goddess of Rationalization
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
5,496
Reaction score
321
Location
In de Nile
Helga,

No need to apologize. I appreciate the list.

I am getting so many books now from different sources. I've been looking at my library's catalog online and Amazon virtually all day. Any given book I can distinguish from mine -- I just have to figure out which books to use. Tomorrow I think its time for my trip to the library and the book store to browse.

I may have to use categories of books, with one or two illustrative titles: "there are books like X that (whatever it is they do), but they don't (cover all I do, in the same way, or reach the same conclusions)."
 

K1P1

Procrastination is its own reward
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 6, 2006
Messages
4,108
Reaction score
851
You'll want to pick books for comparison that were published within the last few years. That may reduce the list a bit.
 

helga

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Apr 29, 2006
Messages
80
Reaction score
7
Location
just outside the mainstream world
Website
www.freewebs.com
Hathor,
While doing research for my new project, I've found the book that sounds very similar to yours. I haven't read it but from the desciption it's a combination of personal experience and essential information about autism:
"Hope for the Autism Spectrum: A Mother and Son Journet of Insight and Biomedical Intervention" by Sally Kirk - "This positive, practical book tells a personal story of hope and provides a wealth of essential information on biomedical interventions for parents... It will also be a useful resource for therapists, medical professionals and adults with autism."
Maybe you'll find it useful for your book proposal?
 

Hathor

Goddess of Rationalization
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
5,496
Reaction score
321
Location
In de Nile
I thank everybody for your ideas. Responding to all of you has made me clarify my thinking on just how to distinguish my book and in the process make the case for why my book is needed. Our discussions have really, really helped.

I've drafted my market and competing books section now. (The way it worked out, I was saying the same things in both and combining them meshes together well.) Distinguishing all the "my child was cured of autism" books took a paragraph. It turned out I could lump them all together. This is good since I have to distinguish all the books about constructivism, special education law and advocacy, inclusion, language delay, developmental delay, and homeschooling, too.

The basic thrust of my book is not the autistic (or autistic-like -- that's what they called my daughter, precisely) angle, although mentioning it in the title could help tap into that market. My daughter was one of those who benefit quite remarkably and quickly from ABA therapy. (The autistic symptoms went away; we had years dealing with the other stuff. She was one of those children who don't fit in any precise label -- another distinction for my book.) Anyway, the effectiveness of ABA therapy has been scientifically established for a long time. What I discuss is how school systems get away legally with denying it and using instead approaches that aren't that effective at all, even though cost-benefit study shows that this is short-sighted of them.

Thanks for thinking of me, Helga. I don't think I need any more books, now. That is, unless someone runs into a book giving a dramatic example of the benefits of direct instruction (vs. constructivism), going into the cost-benefit angle of special education, making the case for how the special education system should be changed, or making the case against full inclusion* ... I've looked, I've asked the education professor writing my forward, and I'm going to ask some other professors as well. While he hasn't written the forward yet, I think it will entail an explanation of how my book is different from anything else he's read.

So I feel pretty confident on the "my book is different and needed" score. I've even managed to draft an "about the author" section that makes it sound like I'm the right one to write this book :D What's left, and will require some more thought and research, is to figure out what I can say about promotion/marketing. Oh, and writing the chapter-by-chapter summary and making it all sound interesting ...

*I should mention that there is one book from 2005 criticizing full inclusion, but it consists of reprints of older academic articles, is 449 pages long, and costs $93 used. Since a co-editor of that is writing my forward, I think I'm safe.

To clarify, I'm not asking anyone now to try to find books for me on these topics. I think I have it covered!
 
Status
Not open for further replies.