Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Question on Publishing

Q: How hard is it to obtain a publisher interested in publishing your book? How do you know if they are the right one?

How hard is it to obtain a publisher? It can be extremely difficult, especially for the first time author submitting her first completed book manuscript. The publisher doesn't know you personally (most likely) and isn't familiar with your writing abilities. You have to "sell yourself" along with your manuscript—that is, you have to convince a total stranger that you are able to tell a story well and deliver a good read without much editorial assistance. Yes, there are such people as editors, but they have a lot on their plates and don't have time to help writers learn how to craft grammatically correct prose. In other words, first time manuscripts need to be as polished and as well-written as possible. There's really no other way to convince a publisher to take you on as an author.

How do you know if a particular publisher is the "right one"? Do your research first before querying. Find out what types of books they sell and which types they are looking for currently. Most publishers nowadays (print or electronic) list their submission guidelines online. Read the guidelines and follow them to the letter. Don't submit a romance to a publisher who clearly states they are looking for horror novels and vice versa. You don't make any friends by taking up a publisher's valuable time that way. If you have questions about their current manuscript needs, ask politely and they are most certain to respond. Just remember to always act professional and businesslike in all written correspondence.

Another way to find out if a publisher is the "right one" is to ask writers who are currently published with that firm what they think about your book's chances there. They may have some inside information that next year the publisher is cutting a certain line or creating a new line. Your book may or may not fit in with the publisher's upcoming schedule. (Publishers often buy books for publication years in advance, so what's hot this year may not be next year or the year after.) Save yourself a lot of time and heartache by finding out everything possible about a particular publisher first before submitting to that house.

Even after you've done your research, queried the publisher you think is the best match for it and had your book accepted you might still feel this publisher isn't the "right one". This is one of the tougher aspects of being a published author, working with a publisher who doesn't always have your best interests in mind. Face it — publishing is a business and the bottom line rules. Sometimes you have to take
your lumps and move on to another publishing house to build a more successful relationship— artistically and financially—the next time out.

Writers have to think about the long haul of their career and keep writing and submitting no matter how hard it is at times. Publishers aren't particularly interested in "one shots" and want to sign up writers who have more than one book in them. (There's that bottom line again.) After you've submitted your first book, don't sit and wait for an answer—get to work on your second and your third. That way when you sell your first book you can tell the publisher that you have several other manuscripts to show them as well.

Anyone who emails Cindy a question — any question, related to writing, publishing or whatever—will be entered into the next drawing for her writer's reference STRAIGHT ANSWERS TO TOUGH WRITING QUESTIONS. Email your questions to her at and write "Newsletter Question" in the subject line. Results guaranteed or double your money back.

posted by Rachelle
at 3:41 PM