How to Find a Publisher
I’ve been in publishing for almost 20 years. When I first started as a publicist, out there on my own things were very different in publishing. You had to have an agent to get a publisher and back then, it was pretty easy to sell a book. Well, easy is relative of course, and perhaps easier than it is now.
The big paradigm shift has come from a few places: the shrinking bookstore shelves, Amazon which sort of swept up the playing field when it came to online purchases of books, and readers buying fewer books. Then came the authors who were willing to self-publish, and did so very well, climbing to huge success and ready for a publisher to snap them up. All of this changed the dynamic of what publishers want.
Authors wanting to find a traditional publishing house need to know a few things. First, all of the above has resulted in publishers who are pretty risk-averse. They want to buy books they know will sell which is why so many of them snap up self-published titles that have found a market. If you aren’t willing to self-publish your book, then consider raising your own author profile even before you’ve signed a deal. This means getting a website, starting to blog and getting on social media. If speaking is your thing, you may consider that, too. Second, publishers want to know that the author can sell their own book and is willing to do so. Having an author who is already marketing by having a website and social media presence is pretty attractive to most publishers. Third, and perhaps most important, you need to know your markets. I’m speaking of the market you are writing in as well as the publishing market in general. Getting to know who is buying what, what publishers are looking for in terms of books and what changes are happening in the industry will set you ahead of most of your competition. Wondering where you can learn about publishing? Well, start by subscribing to a few free sites like Publishersmarketplace.com and the DigitalBookWorld.com newsletter. Both are free, both offer daily tidbits on publishing and authors.
Another surprising way to increase your chances of finding a publisher is by having a clean manuscript. I know when our editors decide to take on a book, this is something they look for, too. Believe it or not, they want something that’s been edited. Don’t send them something half-assed because unless it’s the most unbelievable piece of literature ever, they won’t take it. Keep in mind, however, that if a publisher decides to take you on, you will likely have to rewrite certain portions of it and the original manuscript you sent them may go through a lot of changes. It’s part of the process; to get the book to commercial levels there is a lot of work involved. Rarely does a manuscript arrive at a publisher commercially ready to go. Most, if not all, need work. But the more attention you can show to detail from the start, the better your chances of finding someone to publish your book.
Many ask me if they need an agent. Here’s the thing, agents are fantastic but like everything else in publishing, their world is changing, too. Agents are a necessity for many seeking a publisher, so yes, you should submit to agents when needed, though some publishers (such as the Love Swept line from Penguin) accept unagented works.
Finally, is there a market for your book? This is a very tough question to ask yourself, I know. We all want to think that our books are marketable but often many aren’t. So, how do you know? Well, research will tell you where there is a market for what you’ve written. Check out your local bookstore and see what other titles there are similar to yours. If there aren’t any, there may be a reason why. Next, have someone who can be objective give you some solid feedback. When I say objective I mean no one you know. You may have to pay for this advice but it can be really worth it. Find someone in publishing, a coach or a marketing person, but beware that they don’t try to sell you some publishing package or something you hadn’t planned on. Start with straight coaching or editorial feedback so you know if you have a solid book and a one that has a market.
Publishing has changed, many say for the better, and I would tend to agree. Digital books, self-publishing, and authors willing to do the work have brought in a tsunami of change into a pretty old-guard world. Publishers must evolve or die and, despite the fact that they aren’t willing to take the risks they were say, ten years ago, they are still looking for books. Who knows, yours could be next.
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Genre – Contemporary Romance
Rating – R
Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.