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Stalled - how to move on?

edited July 2010 in Writing
I need some advice and encouragement please folks.

I'm supposed to be writing a "How to" book. I say "supposed to be" because I've just opened the Word file and noticed it was last amended on 26th June. And I must have started it nine months ago. So why have I stalled? Well, I've written the broad outline and about 10,000 words of various chapters. But I can't decide whether to keep writing or to start looking for a publisher. The subject matter would roughly stand between mind/body/spirit and medicine, but it wouldn't be part of any series. I don't believe the topic has been covered before which makes it hard to know which publishers to approach. Let alone how.

Anyone I've mentioned the book to seems to think it's a really good idea - that's all well and good but I really need to get it finished and out there, or it remains just an idea. And I'm losing heart and confidence in it. A couple of people have mentioned that cartoon-type drawings in the book would be good, but I wouldn't have a clue where to begin finding someone to do that.

So where do I go from here? I badly need a nudge forward.


  • No advice but here : *nudge*
  • First, identify your market. Then prepare your synopsis and knock the first chapter firmly and securely into shape. Then send it out.
    Sounds easy, but you need to identify your market before you can go on. You say it's hard to know which publishers to approach but you need to work at that - pin down precisely what your target market is.
    Forget the illustrations. A publisher will know whether you need them and if you do, who they can go to to get them. Never supply your own unless you drew them yourself. If you present a package, words and pictures and they don't like the pictures they may well reject the whole thing. Leave the drawings out of it. Concentrate on a) finding your publishers, be) writing the synopsis (there's a thread on that somewhere) and c) getting the first chapter done.
    Check your writing carefully. In that posting you started a sentence with 'and' and another with 'but' which isn't good. Try and avoid that at all costs if you can. How tos need to be precisely written so the reader identifies with the subject and not the writer.
    Does this help?
  • Will it have personal experiences to back up the chapters?

    Don't worry about illustrations now, you need to get the publisher first...

    As for which publisher, have a look on Amazon to start with for books in that sort of line, then you can have a look at those publishers to see what they are asking for.
  • Think of a person you want to explain your subject to, and every time you sit down pretend you are speaking to them... i find it easier to do 'explaining' things if I have someone in mind. You could take it to a creative writing group - gives you focus, someone to explain to, feedback and a reason to get it done.

    Agree re illustration, unless you know an art student, or can find an art student, who'd like to add to their portfolio and who could do one or two pages of it, to show the publisher just how you see it done. Sometimes they can't visualize how you see it. This would also have the advantage of focusing your mind as to whether this IS what you want, and also it would show you any changes you'd have to make to the writing to make it right to go into a cartoon format. I suspect you'd find a difference.
  • Thanks all. That's exactly what I needed. I will forget about illustrations - one less thing to worry about. Good idea about personal experiences, Carol. I had meant to put more in, and you reminded me. Dorothy, I did really know about your a,b,c but I definitely needed to hear someone say it (well, you know what I mean). It's now much clearer to me what I need to do next. And I will be careful not to start sentences with "and" - whoops.

    Now I should just get on with it and report back for another nudge if I get stuck again.

    Cheers! :)
  • look in on the thread I just started when I want progress reports!
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