This post addresses market research for your book and the how to focus on the key elements that will help you craft a book that has the potential to be a best seller.

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Our second excerpt from How to Become an Author: Your Complete Guide gets into some detail about self editing, literary agents, query letters, and book proposals for the author looking to land a publishing deal.

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You know your topic – you live and breathe it and can’t wait to share your passion with the world! You will pour all this passion into the pages of your book, and it will radiate with the love you have for your subject. Your book will be extraordinary. It will change the lives of your readers, and your life, too. But wait! There’s more. Did you really think writing a book would be that simple?

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Jacket copy is never going to be “perfect.” It’ll never capture everything you want readers to know about your book or your achievements as an author. So give up on trying to pack it all in and just accept the fact that this is supposed to be, much like the descriptions on a menu, a teaser. First throw your hands in the air, and then use them to karate chop all the extraneous elements into submission. What’s left over will be in fighting trim.

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When you set out to draft a book proposal, you might find the "market competition" section to be the most confounding. To start with, who enjoys staring their competition in the face? It can be daunting to sort through all the books that exist in the same subject area as yours, and the authors who have found the success you aspire to. The fact is, it’s important for an author to know his or her market competition intimately: a market-savvy author is in a position of strength.

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Finding Literary AgentsYou've written a book you think could be a best-seller. Now there's only one thing standing between you and a big publishing deal: a literary agent. On the Ploughshares Blog, Steph Auteri offers some great advice on how to make your book proposal stand out from the dozens or hundreds of other pitches the agent of your dreams received that week. Take a look at her Checklist of Book Proposal Essentials to Go Through Before You Start Schmoozing Agents for the full details, or read my quick summary below.

A compelling book proposal should have:

1. A catchy title and subtitle. Though the publisher could always change the name of the book later on, you want to give them the sense right from the start that this book is a finished product. 2. An irresistible book description. You're a writer — so take time writing your book description too. Make it shine from the very first sentence. Convey what is both unique and universal about your book. If you don't, the agent will most certainly move on to the next proposal in the pile.

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The most important reason for writing a book proposal for a nonfiction, fiction and even a children’s book or book of poetry, is for YOU. Here’s what you need to know before launching a book.

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