Как написать книгу так, чтобы её опубликовали и стали читать

автор: Денис Песков

Susan Rabiner. “Thinking Like Your Editor.” W. W. Norton & Company, 2002. "Думай, как твой редактор".

Я рекомендовал её всем, кто будет писать для нас, читателей, нон-фикшн (научпоп), а сейчас дошли руки прочитать вдумчиво. И я считаю, что за вычетом небольших американских реалий, не совсем к нам пока применимых и объёмом не более полглавы, это шедевр. Если вы хотите, чтобы вас издали и читали, то это must read.

Автор редактор с многолетним стажем в ведущих издательствах и опытом работы непосредственно с научпопом. Сейчас она уже литагент (книга начала 2000х), и на её сайте я обнаружил несколько добротных книг, которые и сам читал.

Книга переполнена практическими советами и о том, как собственно написать так, чтобы заинтересовать читателя, так и о том, как общаться с издательствами, чтобы они поверили в успех вашего сочинения. И та, и другая задача отнюдь не просты, на пути встречается масса нюансов и подводных камней, о которых интересно читать даже если не собираешься становиться писателем. А уж если такие планы есть, то не прочтя этой работы, за свою лучше не приниматься.

Так, знакомство с ней позволит избежать того, что вашу книгу редакторы отвергнут буквально с порога:

“In my experience, most of the projects I turn down fall into one of the following categories:

No book audience. The author has chosen a subject that lacks a large enough book-buying audience to support commercial publication. Many policy books fail on this score; indeed, many lack any general-interest audience at all. Also, certain topics will not fly commercially because they are played out or because, time and again, books on these topics haven’t sold well. Thus, it would be very difficult to publish a book on AIDS now—so many are out there—unless, of course, there was something startlingly new or important in the book. An example of a topic that would seem to have a book audience but does not is abortion; both sides are dug in on their positions and neither side wants to hear anything new.

Too theoretical. This is an empirical age. Generally speaking, unless an author is well established, he or she must have some base of research. There are exceptions to this rule, but both book and author must be truly outstanding to get past most agents.

Outside the author’s area of expertise. Both as an editor and as an agent I see a number of projects from retired people, ex-lawyers, ex-CEOs, ex-engineers, buffs writing about a deep hobby outside their area of expertise. As an additional drawback, these projects tend to be extensive think pieces, rather than data or narrative driven.

Academic in both topic and treatment. Too many would-be authors restrict their reading to academic books and come to assume that what is of interest to the academy is also of interest to the general reader. In fact, trade and college audiences can be so different that a book that works very well in hardcover may do poorly in the course-use adoption market; conversely, many of the serious nonfiction titles that sell modestly in hardcover are adopted by professors for their courses and go on to sell well for decades in paperback.

No argument. The project reads like a rambling discussion on various aspects of the topic.

**
Рабинер также очень хорошо приводит в порядок голову, помогаю вам определиться и со стилем своего научпопа, и с его структурой. Для этого, помимо многих советов, она разбирает несколько кейсов и постоянно приводит конкретные примеры того как не надо и как выглядит исправленное "не надо" (если его вообще можно исправить: да-да — автор предельно искренна с вами, и указывает на признаки того, когда вам или вообще стоит забросить идею (конкретный сюжет, а не писательство вообще 😉 ), или ограничиться максимум статьёй. А может вам дорОга в научное издательство, а не в мейнстримовое.

“…every work of serious nonfiction should have a question it asks and an answer it wants to provide.”

Подробно разбирается "пакет" для забрасывания вашего proposal'а в издательство. Там несколько важных составляющих, и нельзя ничего упускать. Есть рекомендации по тому, как устанавливать контакт с потенциальным читателем, взявшим в руки вашу книгу — это важно и для редактора/издателя, — она точно увидит, что вы владеете техникой pick-up'а читателя и это ещё больше утвердит её в решимости "подписать" вас:

“Introductions

Have you ever found yourself in a bookstore watching a browsing customer pick up a book and examine it? I have, many times. Here’s how it usually goes. First the customer opens to the jacket flap copy, reads a little of it, but never seems to read all of it. Then he flips the book over to the back of the jacket (what publishing people call the “back ad”) and reads the blurbs, the comments of others who have read the book—all favorable of course. It’s getting close to decision time. Either the browser slides the book back onto the shelf and moves on, or he finds a way to rest his belongings, so he can open the book and start to read. If the latter, he will most often go to the introduction. I’ve watched people stand and read a ten-page introduction, page by page by page, as if there were no one else in the store and as if the hustle and bustle all around them were the quiet of a library reading room. What are they reading for?"

Чтобы определиться с покупкой, читателю важно понять следующее:

"The answers to three questions: What is this book about? How did you happen to write it? How will this book enhance their knowledge of your topic?

Your prospective reader would also like to get to know you a little better before he commits to spending five to ten hours with you. That’s why publishers so often include a little picture with a brief bio on the jacket back flap. But another kind of picture is emerging in the opening words of your introduction, one based on the ease and sense of confidence—or lack of it—with which you answer these questions.

Of the three, the third—the payoff you promise for reading this book—is the most important.

“So for all sorts of reasons—to help your publisher publish your book, to make clear to reviewers why your book is important, and, most of all, to pull in readers—use your introduction to lay out the major question driving your book and the answer you propose. But don’t try to do more than lay it out. You have the rest of the book to do that.”

Отдельно прописывается весь процесс работы над вашей книгой в издательстве:

“So here’s your first lesson in how to be published well. Start off on the right foot with your editor. When you are ready to turn in your manuscript, send your editor an e-mail, saying “I’ve put it in the mail today. Hope you like it.” Then turn your attention elsewhere. (In a “moment I’ll give you a long list of things to do in this wait-and-see period.) Do not ask your editor to give your manuscript a “quick read over the weekend.” Do not call the editor if you don’t hear from her in a week. If you don’t hear from her for a month, do not assume that she hates your manuscript. And never, never tell an editor that your schedule provides only a limited window of opportunity to go over her comments and make changes. It is not your place to schedule your editor’s time to suit your convenience; given the fact that you signed a contract that requires you to go over the edited manuscript, then the copyedited manuscript, as well as what are called “first-pass” pages, you’d be wise to keep your own calendar flexible, rather than boxing off dates.

Why the tough talk? To start you off right with your editor.”
**

“So how long should you wait? If you haven’t heard a word in a month, send an e-mail. “I’m wondering if you’ll be able to take a look at my manuscript soon.” If you don’t get an answer, don’t panic and don’t bristle. Although you seem not to have received an answer, you’ve gotten one. That editor has not yet found that clear block of time needed to deal with your manuscript. Be especially considerate if you have turned in your own manuscript six months to a year late, throwing the editor’s schedule off. Nothing upsets an editor more than an author who has requested additional time, been given that time, and probably more time after that, and then starts nagging the editor the week the manuscript hits her desk.

Eventually your turn will come.”

Ну, и наконец, есть глава по продвижению вашей книги. Например, о том, как писать соблазняющий читателей "заход", который будет использован для маркетинговых материалов среди читателей.

The only other copy some houses will ask you to write or look over is flap copy. Here you are talking to the ultimate consumer. Primarily you want that person to know that there is something here they haven’t heard before and can’t find in another book. Good flap copy hooks the reader in the first sentence. Go with your strong suit as in: “Based on ten years of research…” or “Here is a book for anyone who has wondered…” or a provocative question: “Will humans survive the twenty-first century?”

Упоминается даже то, как выбрать удачное название и подзаглавие для книги 🙂

"…ask yourself if you really have the best title and subtitle for your book. If you are not sure, your publisher will throw your book into a “title” meeting, where editors, senior and junior, publicists and marketers sit around a table brainstorming, trying to come up with a title that will resonate with the book-buying public, all based on a smattering of information about your book. Title meetings can be hilarious events, especially as everyone becomes creativity-weary, the primary symptom of which is a contagion of giggled absurdities. Generally speaking, you don’t want a title committee to title your book. So let’s talk a minute about what makes a good title…"

И, повторяюсь, огромная масса всего остального — интересного и полезного. В общем, дерзайте!