Wow! At last a book that really offers the information and expert guidance that I have been needing.
As hope-to-be-published writer myself, I've read most of the other books on this same topic - Pitch to Publication, The Dummies guide and the Insiders Guide by Rachael Stock - but this one is, IMHO, way better for content and readability. Fiction and non-fiction are both well-covered. The pick of the bunch by a country mile.
The first part of the book deals with the money side of things. How much can you expect to sell your book for? What is a realistic financial expectation if you're successful? You may not like the answers, but Getting Published gives them to you frankly and openly. The blurb about the author shows he has had both fiction and non-fiction best sellers. Plus he runs a huge literary consultancy and has helped many get their own works on to the best seller lists. So I guess he is a rare thing: author-publisher-agent all in one. And his expertise really shows.
Book then moves on to the whole business of determining whether your manuscript is ready to sell and what to do if it's not. As mentioned, author runs an editorial consultancy, so he's potentially biased here, but I will say he makes his bias very clear and he does push you to ask whether you're sending your manuscript out too early. (He made me think that I've been guilty of that. Sigh!)
The next section of the book is titled 'Planet Agent'. There's very good detailed advice on covering letters, synopses, manuscript presentation and the rest (stuff that I've read before, on the whole), but there are also incredibly helpful and rewarding chapters on things like how to know if you need an agent, what agents actually do for you, what questions to ask (if you get that far), how to interpret rejection letters, and a whole lot more besides. I haven't read anything else that's remotely this detailed or this helpful.
There are also loads of real life examples, all the way through. Also lots of first person articles from all the big players in the field- top agents, publishers, writers, head of the society of authors all give their insider tips.
The last part of the book is taken up with how the industry works and with the tricky business of managing the publishing process itself. In the end you do come away with a much richer understanding of the publisher's viewpoint, and that can only be a good thing when it comes to writing your manuscript. If - no when! - I get as far as a book deal, I can see myself reading this book repeatedly to make sure I don't mess up!
So much for content. In terms of style - well, I loved this. You don't expect a reference book to be laugh out loud funny, but this one can be at times. More than that: you feel that Bingham actually cares about writers, and that (as a pro author himself) he really understands all the ups and downs of the writers' life.
If you want a couple of gripes, though: why can't there be more generous margins? At £12.50 (£15 RRP), you should get a book that you can read without cracking the spine. And why isn't there a 'read inside' option on Amazon? The rival texts do have this, and I usually hate buying books that you can't sample before you buy. But these are minor gripes. The book sizzles.
In case you can't peek inside here is a list of contents. Note that each chapter is subdivided into multiple subsections, so the Getting Ready chapter, for example, has subsections on Motives / Is Your Book Ready? / Assembling a Proposal / Which Agent? / Titles & opening chapters / Covering Letter / Synopsis etc.
- Getting ready
- Planet Agent
- How the book trade works
- Getting your book deal
- Towards production
- Life After publication
- Conclusion / Facts & figures
Overall: highly recommended. Certainly the best of the bunch. Essential for any serious writer - published or otherwise.