Your first question is a very difficult to answer, because there are
so many variables. How a large New York publishing house is begun is
much different from how a small press is started, for example. But
since it appears you don't have experience in the publishing industry,
I'll assume you'd be starting a small press. (A much better way to
"test the waters.") In that case, you would need to:
* Hire at least one experienced editor, designer, publishing lawyer,
and marketing person. You *could* be editor, designer, and marketing
person, but unless you have experience in these areas, you're
undoubtedly better off hiring professionals. Your staff could
telecommute, cutting your costs. A good place to find such folks is at
* Get the word out. Writers generally contact publishers with ideas,
not the other way around. Make sure you have a listing in
www.writersmarket.com, which is *the* resource writers use to find
publishers. Other places to get free/cheap listings include
www.writersweekly.com, www.sunoasis.com , and
www.writerswrite.com/jobs.htm. If you have particular book ideas in
mind, you can also advertise for writers in the latter three
* Take care of legalities. You should have a standard contract that
stipulates terms about copyright, etc., and also explains the author's
royalties and advance on royalties. Once you accept a writer's idea
for a book, this will need to be signed. (For a good overview of what
should be in a book publishing contract, see "What Not to Miss When
Drafting & Negotiating Your Book Publishing Contract:"
* Let your staff take over. Your editor and designer can get to work
on the book as soon as the author turns in a manuscript, and your
marketing person can also begin coming up with a sales plan.
* Get it printed. Book publishers rarely do their own printing. They
hire it out. There are several ways to get your books printed. The
cheapest is to use a POD (print on demand) company. If you look at the
following Google search, you'll see there are a wide variety of
companies providing this service:
The other is to use traditional book printers:
* Get it distributed. Most publishers hire distribution companies to
get their books in bookstores. For a look at some potential
distributors, see the following Google search:
Your marketing person should also help you get your books reviewed,
and help design an online catalog.
You mentioned that you know people with great stories to tell...and
sometimes people with fascinating stories aren't really writers. In
such cases, it's prudent to hire a ghostwriter to pen the story. A
true ghostwriter doesn't receive any public credit for the book, but
some people find this practice deceitful--so an increasing number of
writers have their name attached to the book. (For example, "This is
My Story" by Jane Ilivedit and John Writer. OR: "This is My Story" by
Jane Ilivedit, as told to John Writer.") You can find ghostwriters
through Writer's Weekly, Writers Write, etc., as listed above.
I should also add that it's unusual for a person to become a publisher
without first having worked in the publishing industry. Therefore, you
might consider getting a job at a publishing house in order to obtain
skills in learning about the market, producing books, and marketing
books. Another option that would be helpful would be to seek out a
publishing coarse at a university. Oftentimes these courses allow
hands-on training with people already in the industry.
I also recommend you read the following books:
"Opportunities in Publishing Careers" by Robert A. Carter, S. William
"Career Opportunities in the Publishing Industry" by Fred Yager, Jan
Yager, Pat Schroeder:
"Print-on-Demand Book Publishing: A New Approach To Printing And
Marketing Books For Publishers And Self-Publishing Authors" by Morris
"How to Start a Home-Based Desktop Publishing Business" by Louise
Kursmark (which describes how you can do your own designing):
As well as the free .PDF "Book & Journal Publishing" by The Publishing
Training Centre: http://www.train4publishing.co.uk/content/careers/careersinpub.pdf
As for your second question, you're really asking how to become a
literary agent. The best literary agents already have contacts at
publishing houses; they have relationships with editors and know what
each house is looking for. If you don't have such contacts, you can
still be an agent, but the going may be tough.
The first thing you must do to be taken seriously as an agent is to
join The Association of Authors' Representatives. For information
about how to join, see "Would You Like to Join the AAR?":
The Association will list you in their directory, but you should also
obtain a listing at www.writersmarket.com .
Authors will seek you out, but you can also seek them out. A good
place to find authors--and develop relationships with editors--is by
going to conferences. A Google search will help you find writing
conferences in your general area:
Once you have a project to sell, you'll pitch it to editors. The
writer herself should provide a snappy cover letter and book proposal.
A good agent can help authors make their proposal even better.
Here are some links I recommend:
"How Do I Become a Literary Agent?"
"Becoming an Agent:"
"FAQ" (How Did You Become a Literary Agent?":
"The Role of the Literary Agent:"
"Sample Book Proposal:" http://www.alivecom.com/images/nonfictionproposal.pdf
The above links should give you a good idea about the complexities
involved in becoming a publisher or an agent. Good luck and kind
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