Saturday, July 30, 2011

Choosing A Publisher

The second question people ask me when they find out I am getting a book published is how I chose, or even found, a publisher.  I think a lot of people have something in them they'd like to write, or communicate, or see in print.  While of course I hope that you will all buy and read my book when it is published (!), I think this blog is more for people who would like to write their own work.

The answer to finding a publisher is quite simple, and it's the same thing I learned when I was applying for college scholarships and when I was working in sales.  You apply everywhere!!  Some writers choose a publisher, submit their work, receive a rejection, and that's that.  When you work in sales, you send direct mailers, sales flyers, and coupons to as many people as possible.  You hope that a percentage of them will come in and buy your product.  Finding a publisher works the same way.  Some publishers do not accept "simultaneous submissions," which are works that have been submitted to other publishers at the same time.  Some publishers will accept them but require that you let them know your work is a simultaneous submission.  You will need to read the guidelines for each publisher.  Even if you submit your writing to one publisher at a time, though, do not accept a rejection as the end of your dream.  Keep submitting!  Some best-sellers were rejected a number of times before they were finally put into print.

To begin, simply Google "publishers," along with the genre you wish to publish.  After unsuccessfully submitting my book to several publishers with which I was familiar, I Googled "publishers Christian children's books."  You may search for "publishers children's books," "publishers romance novels," "publishers historical fiction," etc.  Once you have a list, check each website and look for submission guidelines.  Many publishers now take submissions online.  Make sure your writing has already been edited to the best of your ability and formatted correctly.  Depending on what type of work you are doing, you may also want to search the Internet for sample query letters in your genre.  Some publishers require a query letter first, while others will take your submission immediately if it is ready.  All this information can be found in the submission guidelines for each publisher.

It may also be helpful to understand the different types of publishers in today's confusing market.  Once upon a time, publishers accepted a manuscript, published it, and paid royalties to the writer.  This traditional publishing contract is, of course, what we all want.  If you can get it, more power to ya!  Now that everybody and his brother has a computer on his desk and a couple of laptops strewn about, publishers are inundated with manuscripts.  They might have the next best-sellers crumpled on their floors, but they don't know it because they simply don't have time to read them all.  You may want to hire an agent to help you get your book noticed.

Another avenue that is gaining momentum is self-publishing.  Basically, you pay the costs of publishing and they publish your book.  This method has its place, but if you are not careful, you could spend a lot of money without gaining much.  Self-publishing is useful for several reasons.  For one, you may be a grandparent who has written a story for your grandchildren, or a public speaker who has written a book for a workshop.  You do not need the distribution and marketing that a large publisher would provide; you just need your book printed in a professional manner.  You can self-publish (just Google "self-publishers") and use your copies however you see fit.  Self-publishing can also be a way to get your "foot in the door" with the big publishers if you are sure you have a winner and you can do your own marketing.  Be aware that if you wish to sell large numbers of your book, that in addition to paying for the self-publishing, you will probably need to pay a publicist and/or some type of marketing agency to advertise your book and sell it in the public sector.  These contracts will run thousands of dollars.  Self-published books can be sold on the Internet, such as through Amazon, but to get them into bookstores you would also need to have contracts with distributors and the stores.   I say this not to discourage you, but to make you aware of what you may need to put into this endeavor in order to get something back.  It will require an investment of time, effort, and money.  The payoff comes when you either sell a large number of the books yourself, or are picked up by a large publisher with a traditional contract.

Some large traditional publishers have a self-publishing arm.  The top sellers among the self-published authors each year may be offered a traditional contract.  This could be a way to get your foot in the door.

One publisher has offered another solution to help new authors get published - a compromise between the two former methods.  Tate Publishing specializes in offering contracts to new authors.  They do, however, require that each new author hires a publicist to help ensure the success of both author and publisher.  To some, this looks like self-publishing, or even a vanity publisher (that is, a publisher that will publish anything for anyone if you pay them enough money).  I was surprised to see how much controversy this has generated among writers' blogs on the Internet.  Well, Tate Publishing offered me a contract, and I have cast my lot with them.  I am confident that they have a good business model, and I am excited about our future together.  If you have questions about them, though, especially if you have been offered a contract and are trying to decide whether or not to accept it, click "follow" over there in the margin and stay tuned to my blog.  I will cover more about Tate Publishing in my next blog entry.  As I said in my beginning post, you may read this blog and share the ride with me, pass or fail.  If I have placed my trust where I shouldn't have, you will discover that along with me, right here.

Join me for the ride!

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