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Letter to a First Time Author

Letter to a First Time Author

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Published by Tom Scilipoti
Pragmatic Advice for anyone looking to publish a book for the very first time.
Pragmatic Advice for anyone looking to publish a book for the very first time.

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Published by: Tom Scilipoti on Mar 13, 2013
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05/14/2014

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Letter to a First Time Author The following letter is intended for anyone who is ready to publish their first

book and comes across this page. Dear Gary, Congrats on almost being done your book! Writing a book is a lot of hard and thankless work—I know from experience if you know what I mean. Here's what I recommend you do. First, make sure the book is the best it can be before you publish it. No grammatical or typographical errors, no clichés and heed the advice of Max Fischer by ensuring that every line matters. Send it to me, I'll gladly read it and give you timely, objective and constructive notes. Just remember that the publishing industry is ruthless and you'll have to deal with a lot of criticism even if it's a five star work of High-Renaissance art. And don't apply any of my suggestions unless YOU think they'll help the work. Second, when you're completely confident the book is the best it can be, it's time for the next step. I published my first two books with PublishAmerica but please, please do not publish with them. They're greedy con-artists and there are so much better options for a freshmen author. I'd recommend using "Create Space" with Amazon to publish it. It's free to publish, very user friendly and you can sell it as an E-book for a price you set with the majority of the royalties going to you. Plus, you can order hard copies to sell yourself for a very low base price (my last book was like a $4 base for a 50,000 word book). If you really want to get a mainstream deal, you'll need an agent of course. In that case, you'll need to prepare a one page cover letter or pitch for your book. A cover letter is three paragraphs. The first is a logline, basically the entire plot in one or two sentences. The second paragraph is a half-page synopsis of the book, key characters, conflict and plot, all-inclusive. Finally, the third paragraph is the author bio. You can Google further info on cover letters but here's a sample cover letter that I'm using for my "Up All Night" remix, "The Pink Palace."
Dear Agent, Below is my query for my latest work of narrative non-fiction, "The Pink Palace". I chose to query you because I know this story has the rare power to induce belly laughter and empty tissue boxes. When nineteen year old virgin Tommy Cicero stops sleeping and, invariably, starts tweaking during a summer at the shore, his circle of sunbaked friends solicit a sexual favor from their promiscuous neighbor Mary— Tommy's self-proclaimed "queen", in hopes that she will wax his waning mind AND his pole. "The Pink Palace" is adapted from a true story I experienced when I was at the age of first serious onset for Bipolar Disorder. It's a very Quixotian tale about a grandiose dreamer who rapidly loses touch with the reality of the teenage wasteland surrounding him, yet stays stubborn, passionate in pursuit of his lofty goals. Chief among his ambitions is scoring something more corporeal than a Platonic friendship with the one girl—Mary Cooper, who's the been the quintessential muse of his manic affection since the beginning of summer. Poorly versed in women's ways and richly delusional however, Tommy puts Mary on a queen's throne. He obsesses over the limitless beauty and purity he perceives in her, only to discover she's been recruited by his buddies to "cure" his illness via a sexual favor and has been intimate with his arch nemesis, Jack all summer long. The

result is a highly customized, unmistakably original and profoundly tragicomic narrative revolving around an earnest, comically imbalanced young man struggling to ride out the waves of teenage hormones AND a pervasive mental illness. I graduated from Gettysburg College in 2008 with a BA in Philosophy. During my super senior year at Gettysburg, my debut novel "Up All Night", from which the Pink Palace finds its roots, was required reading for two sections of creative writing. Because I don't have an MFA nor industry experience currently, I will use the author bio from the back of "Up All Night" to give a succinct self-portrait. "Tom Scilipoti is a 2003 graduate of the John Carroll School and a rising super senior at Gettysburg College. He detests the National Minimum Legal Drinking Age Act of 1984 and considers it a life's mission to see it overturned by a progressive Congress. Besides advocating social justice, Tom enjoys playing ruit and practicing the Golden Rule." Salud, Tom Scilipoti tomscilipoti@gmail.com www.scribd.com/tscilipoti

Most agents are fake, plastic assholes and will not even respond to you. The key is to hook them in one cover letter which is very difficult. You need to figure what the genre, target demographic of your book are, find an agent who represents those kinds of works, figure out what their policy for submissions are and then query them in accordance with those policies. My best advice is to publish your book through CreateSpace.com first and then continue to solicit agents afterwards. The good thing about CreateSpace is that you'll still own the rights to your book so you can sell as many copies as you can and still try to hook an agent in the meantime. Plus, you'll have a stronger pitch for a potential agent if you can cite some good sales records especially within your target demographic. Additionally, I'd advise creating a website to promote your book at the very least. You can buy your own domain for relatively cheap or just sign up for a free blog address. Twitter and Facebook are also good for marketing purposes. If you join twitter or already have an account, subscribe to LateralWriter because they have lots of great information for writers early in their career. Also, scribd.com is an excellent resource for writers. You can put samples of your book and other writings on there for free and have access to the traffic and how long visitors spend reading what you post on there. Let me know if you have any other questions, I'm glad to assist you with this process. Don't be shy about sending me your book because I know the art of creative writing well and will give you feedback that can help you optimize your work. Good luck with everything and congratulations on doing something many dream of or talk about, but few actually have the strength of mind and indomitable spirit to do. -Tom

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