Monday, January 16, 2012

Finding a Book Publisher ~ Part I

Finding a Book Publisher - Part I

For those of you that don’t have the time, money, energy, know-how or patience to go down the self-publishing route (it does take all of these things to get it done), this post may be for you!

Let’s get the first misconception out of the way right of the bat – you don’t have to have an agent, or connections within the industry, to get published. However, you do need to know how to submit your work in the most professional manner possible and you need to ensure that you have what a perspective publisher will require if they are interested in publishing your work. Imagine getting that email, phone call or letter from an interested publisher and within the first few moments you discover that you don’t have what they need in order to publish your work? It would be catastrophic!

Today we will look at the first 5 steps you will need to complete in order to find a publisher. On Friday, we will look at the last 5 steps in “Finding a Book Publisher – Part II” and some common questions that get asked.

1. WRITE THE BOOK – not an outline or the first few chapters but the entire book. The first thing a publisher will want to establish is that you have the skill, stamina and discipline to complete a full-length book; they are interested in selling a product not your ideas.

2. DEFINE YOUR AUDIENCE – you ask some writers the question, “Who is your targeted audience?” and they don’t know the answer. You should be able to answer this question because it will help you choose an appropriate publisher. Also, you need to be able to define what genre your book belongs to. Not wishy-washy statements like “its sort of a mystery-romance with some sci-fi elements” because statements likes this will only confirm that you either haven’t refined the concept of your work or that you don’t understand the book market. Think in terms of how books are stacked on the shelves at your local Chapters.

3. RESEARCH THE MARKET – I know…research, blah. This is a critical step that can’t be avoided. You don’t want to call just any publisher listed in the book to see if they might be interested in publishing your work. Instead, focus on publishers that publish work that is within your genre. If you are not sure who publishes work in your genre, visit your local Chapters or library and see which publishing houses have published books in your genre.

4. DO YOUR HOMEWORK – you can find out promising publishers in the current Writer’s Market (available in bookstores), which lists what publishing companies are buying and their rates and will let you know how to approach the editor (e.g., some publishers want to see the entire manuscript whereas others only want a query letter outlining your idea). Of course, if you need more information you can write or call the publisher to request a copy of their writer’s guidelines. Another resource for publisher information can be found in the Literary Market Place (in the library reference section of your local bookstore).

5. PREPARE YOUR MANUSCRIPT – make sure that your manuscript is printed on high-quality white bond paper and never use erasable paper or a dot-matrix printer. Make sure you double-space your manuscript and leave a 1-inch margin on all sides, number your pages, check your spelling (not with just a spellchecker), use a clear readable font in 10 or 12 pt., don’t justify your right margin, don’t mix fonts or overuse boldface or italics. If you have further questions about how to format a proposal, query or manuscript you can consult The Writer’s Digest Guide to Manuscript Formats.

Remember to check back on Friday for the final 5 steps and some commonly asked questions.

Have a great day!


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