1. 803andy
    Offline

    803andy New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2011
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0

    Writing a Book Without Proper Writing Skils???

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by 803andy, Jan 12, 2011.

    I have about three picture books I want to put out. These books will be comprised mostly of pictures with anywhere from 1 - 4 accompanying paragraphs or blurbs. Additionally, there will a few pages for an introduction.

    I am very passionate about the themes of the books. I have discovered an very interesting niche for picture books that I would like to present to the world. However, I am not a strong writer and I've never been great with tying points together.

    I plan to work with someone with an advanced English degree or other expert to massage everything over. For each picture I'll have about 75% of the text completed and the rest will be completed by the contracted expert (grammar, sentence structure and additions).

    Please let me know if you have any advice on this matter. I do not plan to self-publish, I will be submitting the finished work to publishers.

    Thanks.
     
  2. HeinleinFan
    Offline

    HeinleinFan Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2007
    Messages:
    483
    Likes Received:
    33
    Well, while I wish you the best, I want to let you know that what you're proposing is likely to be difficult to pull off. As any information will help or will at least give you a better idea of what to plan for, I'm going to briefly cover several topics and hope they're useful.

    First, "picture books" the way you're using the phrase might mean stories for very young kids, or nonfiction books which use pictures (photographs or sketches or whatever) to teach. Either way, I'm going to have to make some generalizations in my advice simply because you haven't clarified which variety of picture book you're working on. I'm not blaming you; there is a lot of variety in book publishing, and there's no reason for you to know this stuff right away, especially since the people who read each type of picture book are different.

    A. Picture book as an illustrated story for grade school kids.
    Stories for young kids are something of a specialty. They have a paragraph on each page, telling some kind of narrative -- like "Learn about Alligators" or whatever, where the 'story' is a short narrative about how the morther gator prepares a nest, guards it, watches over the hatching gators, and eventually watches the young ones leave, whereupon the cycle starts over and the narrative ends. The point is, you've got to have a narrative in place, and the pictures just illustrate the narrative. It will be very hard to get the right pictures if you start with pictures before you have the narrative prepared.

    B. Picture book as a story for ultra-new readers.
    Picture stories for really young kids have a sentence or two per page. I'm going to assume that this is not the type of story you're planning, both because I have very little relevant knowledge and because if it is, the project you're planning will have to alter so radically that my advice would likely become obsolete.

    C. Informational nonfiction narrative with pictures and text, aimed at adults.
    A historical book with pictures would have more text than two or three paragraphs such as you describe, and would be longer overall (more page spreads, more pages generally, a longer "story" or narrative). Many are indeed aimed at niche markets -- like the LIFE Book
    The Greatest Adventures of All Time, which has both pictures and text.

    Then there are odd in-betweens, like "Walk in the Woods: The Curious Child's Guide to Sierra Nevada Wildlife," where you have sections ("Trees," "Wildflowers," "Mammals") that tell a little about each critter (or plant), as well as a relevant picture or two. This would also fit your description of a "picture book."

    Which about does it for book categories, but might explain why the rest of this is going to be so general.

    Second point: You're talking about an unusual partnership, and that's the step most likely to trip you up. After all, you want someone to "fix" your text and make it more publishable. In other words, you want a ghost writer.

    I'm using the phrase "ghost writer" rather than "collaborator" deliberately. You have the idea, you have the pictures, you have some text, and it sounds like the guy you hire is going to be doing a specific job for you, not helping you to come up with ideas.

    There are a couple of arrangements which could result. In one arrangement, you pay the guy money to do a series of specific tasks, and then it's done. When the book is published, he doesn't get any of the royalty money from it. However, if the book is never picked up by a publisher (they reject it, or you decide to self-publish, or you go on to some other project and forget about this particular book), you've still lost whatever money you paid the guy to do those tasks.

    In another arrangement, you pay him less up front and he gets a share of the profits and / or his name also goes on the book credits. This results in less money lost if your book is never picked up by a publisher, but you don't make as much from the book when it sells. And if it turns into a big seller, you lose a lot more than the couple thousand bucks you might have given him otherwise.

    Either way, you're going to need to find someone to help you. If you don't have a ready friend who is competent at writing and who could use the money, I'd seriously look to Google. There are freelance writers and editors out there. Talk to several, asking to see writing samples, and asking about the standard deals they give (whether they want to be paid by project or by hour, that sort of thing).

    You might want to talk to a literary attorney about how to arrange the contract between you and the writer you hire. You'll want to make it clear that they don't have a claim on the finished book if you hire them for money up-front rather than a percentage. Alternately, you'll want to make it clear just how much of a percentage they get (if you want them to get some of the profit later), and sign a collaborator's agreement of some sort.

    The sort of thing you're proposing may cost more than you've planned, in both time and money. Some pro writers are willing to take a shot at improving manuscripts, but they tend to cost more than $100 per hour (sometimes much more) for the simple reason that they're experienced and that their time could otherwise be spent writing their own work.

    The other thing to consider is whether you should just work on it yourself. If you have a particular way you'd like the thing put together, having an "expert" come along and disagree might be frustrating. And your line-by-line writing seems fine, just looking at your original post.

    The last point isn't meant to be pessimistic, but to be a realistic assessment based on what little I know. The thing is that picture books can be kind of hard to sell, and there are some things you should be doing aside from just getting someone to edit your writing.

    If your project is aimed at kids, you need to get an agent (since most YA publishers are a lot tougher than genre fiction publishers about agented submissions).

    If it's aimed at adults, you should be putting together a proposal and sending it to publishers before paying someone money to edit your work, because the publisher might accept it on the condition that you change your book in some fashion. It would really suck if you spent $1500 making the text perfect, only to have the publisher cut out the intro and demand that you change certain parts of the narrative.

    I wish you and your project the best.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    are these to be picture books for young children, or coffee table books for adults?

    if the former, are you drawing the illustrations yourself?
    [if so, you should know that unless you're a recognized illustrator, mostpublishers won't accept art work with the text, will assign their own artists]

    if the latter, are they your own photographs, or do you have releases for all of the pictures?
    [without them, no publisher will take it on, as that would be copyright infringement]

    in either case, i write children's books and mentor writers of same, plus have written text for coffee table books, so i'll be glad to give you a hand with the writing... and i do all for free... you can email me, if you want to discuss it...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  4. 803andy
    Offline

    803andy New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2011
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the well-versed replies.

    The books will be close to coffee table style books with images of historical figures from the 19th century. I plan to use mostly existing images.

    As far as royalties I don't mind sharing; however, I wouldn't want to go over 25%. I just want the world to see the theme.

    Is there more of a risk of a publisher using my idea without me if I take this route?
    //This seems like the best route to take.
     
  5. FrankABlissett
    Offline

    FrankABlissett Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2008
    Messages:
    422
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Sault, Michigan
    "...Is there more of a risk of a publisher using my idea without me if I take this route?..."

    Why would a publisher do that? I mean, they would risk a lawsuit from you (even if it were unlikely to succeed it would still be a headache), and at the end of the day end up hiring someone to actually do the work anyway. Instead, if they were interested, why not pay you to begin with?

    -Frank
     
  6. 803andy
    Offline

    803andy New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2011
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm not familiar with this industry, that is why I asked. Good answer though, it makes perfect sense now.
     
  7. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    frank's right... there's no risk with legit publishers, if you query with a proposal... you can also see if you can interest an agent with a query, if the ideas are 'high concept' and let the agent shop your proposal around to publishers...

    however, if you're not capable of writing the text well enough on your own, that will be a major drawback in selling anyone on the proposal, as it must include sample chapters... no one will represent or buy just the concept from you, they'll need to see that you can deliver professional quality text...
     
  8. twopounder
    Offline

    twopounder Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2011
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    0
    What you need to do is find someone who is willing to collaborate. If you're art is good, then you may be able to find a published author to help you for 50% or a standard fee and authoring credit. You might also want to try posting on forums (such as this one) your need for an author and what you are willing to pay/share with them.

    You would be surprised how many people are willing to work in a team to achieve that kind of goal.
     

Share This Page