Wednesday, April 09, 2008

NF queriers, here's your chance

I'm moderating a panel of non-fiction book editors on Friday.
I need to come up with some questions to ask. I have a couple in mind of course, but I always like to tap the amazing reservoir here for new and unusual ideas.

So, here's your chance. If you could ask an editor anything, what would you ask?

Email is good, comment column is good. Just help me out!


Julie Weathers said...

Two questions I have been thinking about.

Usually, when people are stressing, they tend to turn more to faith. Are they seeing more demand for inspirational books?

I notice a lot of agents say they are interested in women's non-fiction. Interesting stories of survival. What are editors sensing about women's non-fiction?

Memoirs that read more like fiction or something else?

Second one was probably a stupid question, but it's something I wonder about.

Good luck on your panel and please take notes so you can report.

Kim Stagliano said...

I'd like to know more about the importance of platform. We hear about it so often. How does platform weigh into the decision to buy a MS, price paid, support?

(This question applies to those of us who have not appeared on American Idol and/or do not have breast implants or a $23,000,000 trust fund.)


JenWriter said...

I'm going to be at that conference! Unfortunately, I will sitting in on the fiction editor panel.

Ryan Field said...

Considering the fake memoirs we've all read about, how has it changed the industry and what precautions, if any, will publishers take in the future?

A Novel Woman said...

Platform. I wanna know about platform.

How important is platform for non-fiction writers, particularly when writing self-help books? What kind of experience is needed? Degrees? Credentials? What is going to make one stand out and be noticed above all others? It's supposedly clutch to be not just AN expert but THE expert.

But then along comes Amy Sutherland, a journalist who wrote about food and the arts. She sold a book (soon to be a movie) called WHAT SHAMU TAUGHT ME ABOUT LIFE, LOVE AND MARRIAGE - or how animal-training techniques can be used to train a husband. As far as I know, she had no experience either as a marriage counselor or as a fish tosser at SeaWorld. She used animal training techniques to teach her husband how to pick up his dirty socks. Does this mean any mother, who is also a talented writer, can sell a book about parenting? Or does she have to be Jenny McCarthy?

Unlike fiction, can good writing trump platform when it comes to non-fiction?

Julia said...

novel woman, Amy Sutherland had already had quite solid success with Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched, her earlier book that followed animal trainers through a top certificate course.

So she already had "platform" for that.

A Novel Woman said...

Julia, Yes, but what platform did a food/arts journalist from Vermont use to get KICKED, BITTEN and SCRATCHED off the ground? She wrote an article for the NY Times about animal-training to support that book, but she wasn't an animal trainer, or a marital relations expert. She had a husband who left his dirty shorts lying around. (Hey, now I'm qualified!)

Don't get me wrong. I'm not trashing her or her book. I'm only trying to get a handle on what is important to editors when pitching a non-fiction proposal. If platform is crucial, and I'm hearing it is from every source, then how the heck did Sutherland do it?

So my question remains. How important are your credentials and what part does platform play in getting a non-fiction proposal off the ground? It seems to me, in this case at least, that the cute idea of training a husband like a dolphin was an exception to the rule.


Jamie Hall said...

Should a nonfiction query look like a minature version of a proposal, but more hook-y, or should it follow the same format as a fiction query?

Other than platform and credentials, what sorts of things are most enticing in a nonfiction query?

A Novel Woman said...

So? How'd it go?

I'd love to see a follow-up post, when you have a spare moment. (Stop laughing.)