TEN CRUCIAL TESTS FOR A BOOK MANUSCRIPT 1. Does it connect with anyone? The important task for the nonfiction religious book is to take unchanging truth and integrate it with our changing livesa worthy challenge. Editors today are looking for peoplepeople who are experiencing the heights and depths of life. People who are willing to be in touch with their own passions and concerns. People who connect with the deeper currents of life in general, and more particularly, life in the Spirit. All of us are drawn to these types of people. And when they combine this passion for life, this sensitivity to God's call with the habits of constant reading, reflection, and writing, they are on their way to becoming an insightful and thoughtful writer. 2. What evidence is there to indicate a real need for your book? Who will use it? How will your book compliment or compete with ones already on the shelves? Having a really clear idea of exactly what you are trying to say, and to whom you wish to say it, is essential in writing a nonfiction religion book. Often writers do not have a clear outline, revealing what they want to have happen in the mind/life of the reader. Writers are more concerned with the information they feel they “must share” rather than with meeting a “felt need in the market.” Books which speak to the needs and aspirations of people will always have value. Books that help people solve problems, grow in faith, and see a new perspective in life need to be written in every generation to apply the old truths of Scripture and the Christian tradition to the world in which we live. 3. Who is your intended audience? Are you writing with a particular niche market in mind? Too many writers do not have a clear idea of who their market is, so they do not target the book for a specific market. For example, sometimes a book dealing with counseling problems will try to address both the counselor and the counselee; but this does not make sense. The writer might decide whether the book is one which the counselor should use or the person who needs the counseling. In the case of the latter, a book addressed to the counselee might prove to be one that a counselor will give to the client, and therefore it still has a market in both audiencesbut is addressed to one. Demographics show the biggest sector of the book-buying public is baby-boomer age or a bit olderand losing parents, as well as facing or own mortality, is a big subject. 4. Are you writing on an issue that could slot you on talk shows and thus establish your name as an expert and writer? How-To books are some of the best selling books for Christian publishers. Do you have a credible platform? Are you marketable? Unfortunately, human interest stories are generally not the type of books that sell unless the author is speaking to 1,000 or more people every week. The book that is on a subject that is of vital interest to masses of people is the one that really sells.
5. Are you qualified to write on your subject, and better yet, have you achieved a certain notoriety in your chosen field? The value that a book offers to a buyer is a full treatment of a subject ( more than just a magazine article) from an author who, at the least, is qualified to write on said subject. How have you established your credibility? One editor said, “We receive many, many commentaries on the Book of Revelation or biblical prophecy that are subjective, redundant, and logically inadequateand written by laypersons who have no qualifications, professionally speaking, to be writing on the subject.” Buyers rely on your past history. 6. Does your book proposal demonstrate uniqueness/a fresh approach? Editors appreciate authors who can succinctly and convincingly articulate why their book is unique and needed. 7. Have you clearly proved how your book meets “felt needs” and how it improves upon what is already on the market? This takes market research. Inadequate research to determine existing books on a particular subject is often a problem for a novice author. Be aware of who else writes in this field. Read as many books as you can by those who have been successful in your genre. You can't write in a vacuum. 8. Is your query letter/cover letter to your book proposal the best letter you've ever written in your life? It needs the craftsmanship of the finest carpenterwho with care and commitment to excellence, structures the finished product piece-by-piece. Editors appreciate careful attention to detail. 9. Have you secured some impressive endorsements to include with your book proposal? You should! At least have names, addresses, and email addresses of those important people who have offered to provide book endorsements. 10. How readable is your book? Are you a good storyteller? Don't write to write. Write to say something. Write clearly, write personally, and avoid jargon. Books of substance that capture the reading public's imagination will have a book-buying public. Also, those which are well-written, well-illustrated from a personal experience and well-thought-through from a biblical perspective. Develop fresh approaches that incorporate show-don't-tell techniques that create vivid images for the reader. Keep the writing simple and directaimed at the needs of people." WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO? KEEP NETWORKING. The very real subculture of networking is like a pyramid effect. A person who knows and admires your work may tell a few friends. These people will tell other people... or help make the proper introductions for you. © 2003 by Elaine Wright Colvin, Writers Information Network