for "The Pathfinder" Service

There are two stages where I can help you the most with book preparation. The first is when you know what you want to write about, have it organized in your mind or on paper, perhaps have a rough book design in mind, and are yet to write the text―or have just begun. I call that the "beginning" stage and this guidelist is for you if that more or less describes your situation.

(If you are farther along, you may wish to read the INTERMEDIATE INFORMATION GUIDELIST.)

Put yourself in my position. All I know about you is what you tell me. So I need to know what you know or think about your book―plus the questions you have at this point, so I can answer them.

On the other band, we have two hours together so if you send me a tank car full of things to read there is no time for commentary. And if you send me nothing, what can I say but "good luck!"

So I've compiled a list of the kinds of things that help me put you on a firm, fast, and profitable path to book fame, whether you publish it or some fat-cat house does. Don't worry if you haven't thought of some of these things. Just answer them as best you can anyway. And feel free to send me anything else you think I should know. If it's not clear why it's being sent, attach a note to it and tell me. The wind is too strong in Novato for me to read minds.

It's best to answer the following items on other paper, sticking to the same numbering system please!  Typed or computer-printed takes less time for me to read. If you must write by hand and that's illegible, please print. (You can also respond in Spanish or Portuguese, if that's more comfortable for you.)

1. I assume the book is nonfiction―not a novel. If it isn't, stop. Don't go to GO. You just saved $350. I don't (can't) provide this service for novels. If it is nonfiction, start answering at #2

2. What is the book about? Summarize it in a paragraph or two; maximum, one page.

3. Why are you writing it? Does it require special preparation, experience, or status to write it? Do you have it? If it does but you don't, how will you get it?

4. Who will buy this book? Specifically. What benefit(s) will it give them?

5. Do you plan to self-publish this book or have it published by another firm? If the latter, do you have a publisher in mind?

6. What other books are on the market now that are identical or very close to what you propose? Others that are similar? Why would they buy your book rather than those? In other words, how will yours be different?

7. Provide a rough outline or table of contents of your book.

8. Books are composed of facts, quotes, anecdotes, and illustrations (or artwork of some fashion). Not every book has all four, but most do. Tell me where you plan to get most of the facts, quotes, and anecdotes; the kinds of sources: articles, reports, books, interviews, etc. And what kinds of illustrations will the book need? Where or how do you plan to get them?

9. How much of the book have you written―in book form, as articles, etc.? If actual chapters for the book have been written, please include one or two of the best.

10. Are you proposing to sell the core idea of the book in other formats? As articles, a speech, seminars, a newsletter, tapes, and so on? If so, please explain. Do any of these already exist? (This helps me help you integrate your book into a larger empire-building structure at the outset, to save time and increase your profits.)

11. What else should I know about your book to get you on the best possible path at the outset? (Again, I can't read minds!)

Do the best you can. I don't need every fact but I do need enough to get a clear picture of the structure and purpose of the book.

Let's take a pause here. The questions may have overwhelmed you. You may even be thinking of chucking this "pathfinder" idea out the window and kicking back to do the damn thing at your own pace. Fine.

But whether you're thinking of selling this book to a publisher or even self-publishing it, these questions are what you must know before you put words to the page.

Even more important, if you want another publisher to accept your book, now is the right time to approach them. You needn't write a word before you put it out for sale. In fact, you shouldn't. But if you haven't answered the questions above, they won't pay attention to you―because professionals have and they will get the go-ahead instead of you.

Which is another way of saying, at some point you must answer these questions. Now is the best time. From that spot I can help you pick the best path, to bring inconsistencies into line, throw out the dross, and point out angles and resources that will make the difference between acceptance/sale and a quick rejection.

So that's what I need from beginners. Bundle it up, send me what I must see, tell me what you want to know back (or assume I will give you a full response about what is still needed for it to be the best book possible), include the letter of agreement and moolah, and we're in business.

A last point: newcomers are rife with paranoia. I'm over my head in my own writing work so I'm not going to steal anything of yours. Nor will I show it to anybody else. Faith. I want you to be successful. Why else would I do this?

If I can help you, send the bundle to me either at the office (P.O. Box 845, Novato, CA 94948) or by UPS to 185 Shevelin Rd, Novato, CA 94947 (tell UPS to leave it at the door, where a friend will guard it until I get back from work!)--or where I indicated when we spoke if I'm on the road. If you choose not to send it, I nonetheless wish you good fortune. We need more good books. And more good writers like you.


Incidentally, I have a free monthly newsletter for writers, speakers, publishers, and product developers.

You even get three free reports!

Why not sign up (you can un sign up just as easily later!) at



What I've suggested above is precisely what self-publishers should do.  But I might make another suggestion here for those who want a major publisher to produce and promote their book.

I have some books and audio programs about this topic at my order form. You needn’t buy them, of course, but if you want more information, see the links for each on that form.

Having said that, send me what you wish. I'm eager to help you produce a winning book. Everybody wins when you do in this league.

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Gordon Burgett

(800) 563-1454