So you want to know how to publish a book book—no, that’s not a typo. It’s simply a way of pointing out that many published books that look and feel like books, are not.

How can you tell if a book is a book?

More important than answering this question is to ask another: does it really matter?

Yes. And no.

A book book or real book, will be written well.

If it’s non-fiction, the material will be well organized; it will have a theme that is stated at the beginning. You will know why the author wrote the book and what they intend their readers to learn or take away from it (this is often called the “take-away”).

The writing will be clear and easy to understand. The author will back up factual material with sufficient references that are footnoted. Footnotes will be accessible at the bottom of each page, end of the chapter, or at the end of the book in a special section titled “Notes.”

Contents will not be repetitive. The author will state the material, provide illustrations or demonstrations, deliver everything they want to say, and leave. A good writer will not want to waste your time by repeating themselves ad nauseum!

The book will be about the subject matter and not about the author (unless, of course, it’s an autobiography and the author is the main subject). Posturing or telling the reader how brilliant they are is considered poor taste—and poor writing.

A fiction work will deliver the all-important "who, what, where, when, why" and sometimes "how" as well, within the first page or two. The reader will have a road map they can easily follow.

The writing will be fresh, vibrant and rich with imagery. Characters will leap to life on the page. You the reader will be able to see and feel them in 3-D.

The author will know how to keep the story line moving... quickly and effectively. I like to cite Dan Brown’s novel, Angels and Demons, as one of the best examples of skillful fiction writing that is both riveting and compelling. It took wild horses and a ringing phone during business hours to pull me away from this novel when I first read it!

Books of poetry will be original and fresh. The works will say something in a different way. They will be rich with metaphors and images. The best poetry teacher I know is Rainer Maria Rilke. I recommend his essay, "Letter to a Young Poet,” to all aspiring poets and writers.

My definition of poetry is "the inner dance of the soul." Since each soul is unique, if authentic, so is each "dance."

Is there a book doctor in the house?

Yes. That’s what I do. Often I take a work that is still a rough draft, or I take fragments that a person has collected over time, and develop them into a book.

I perform the necessary surgery that will insure delivery of a work that follows my own list of qualifications.

I am also a book shepherd, a term that has become vogue recently--although I prefer to call myself a publishing mentor. “Shepherd” has the connotation of leading sheep or people who don’t really know what they’re doing. Or, guiding people who will agree to anything you the shepherd tell them to do. They will follow the group.

As a professional writer and author of several non-fiction, fiction and poetry works, I pride myself in producing works that are fresh and original. As head of a publishing company that has built its reputation on producing books that are unique and often outrageous, I like to encourage other writers to “do it their way.” I also like to work with individuals who are not aspiring to be people and public pleasers.

I work with each author to show them how to publish a book book they can not only be proud of, but that represents who they are.

Published books from Dandelion bear the unique stamp of being edited, proofed, designed and laid out by professionals; printed and distributed digitally by the best companies in the world; and marketed by companies that have a passion for helping authors and publishers get top sales.

Recently a person contacted me to inquire about Dandelion's editing and publishing services. He said he was working on a novel and had completed several chapters.

After reviewing his work, I realized this person needed a great deal of help. In my phone conference with him, I asked if he had read many novels before. As I suspected, he had not.

Reading the works of other writers, especially those who have been cited for skill, artistry and craftsmanship, is one of the best ways to learn how to become a better writer.

I also learned that this person did not want his work edited or "altered," but was willing to pay me whatever I charged, to "make it into a better work."

Although it can be attractive to sign in a client for book doctoring, especially when they state they're willing to pay my fees, my first rule of thumb is always to make sure the project will not end up being a crash landing. I thanked this writer for allowing me to review his work and wished him well.

I then suggested that he publish his work through one of the online turnkey "fast food" publishing companies in order to have the satisfaction of seeing his work in print.

The email I received in return was confirmation that I had given this writer the best advice possible. Glowing with excitement, he said this "sounded right for him."

As a book doctor and publisher, I 1) listen to a potential client to make sure I understand their goal, and 2) I then offer advice, based on that goal.

When I realized that this person's goal was to have a published book with his name on the front cover, the solution was simple.

Author's Bio: 

Carol Adler, MFA’s first ghost-written book listing her name as co-editor, Why Am I Still Addicted? A Holistic Approach to Recovery, was endorsed by Deepak Chopra, M.D., and published by McGraw-Hill. Other publications include three novels, four books of poetry, and well over 200 poems in literary journals. She has ghostwritten over 40 non-fiction and fiction works for a number of professionals in the education, health care and human potential industries.

Carol is President of Dandelion Books, LLC of Tempe, Arizona; a full service publishing company. She is also President and CEO of Dandelion Enterprises, Inc., Write to Publish for Profit and President of the International Arts & Media Foundation, a non-profit subsidiary of Dandelion Enterprises, Inc.

Her business experience includes co-ownership of a Palm Beach, FL public relations company and executive management positions in two U.S. rejuvenation and mind/body wellness corporations, for which she founded publishing divisions.

Carol has served as editor of several poetry and literary magazines. Her career experience includes extensive teaching of college-level creative and business writing, and conducting of writing workshops in prisons, libraries, elementary, junior and high schools, and senior citizen centers.

Additional Resources on Publishing can be found at:

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Carol Adler, The Official Guide to Publishing