I’m returning to discuss those ever important steps in finding a publisher. You can find Part I that covered steps one through five here.
Step 6 – You may have ten or maybe even twenty publishing companies still on your list. Now take a look at their websites to see for yourself what kind of books they publish. Pick out one or two books similar to your own story and discover where the publisher actually sells them. For instance are they available in book stores or only on internet sites like Amazon. Browsing the books for sale can also tell you if the books are best-sellers. Read the readers’ reviews etc. Spending time in this area can help build up a picture of the publisher, and this kind of research is always fruitful for new writers. Are the publishers small or big, successful or not, new or well established, respected or not? On this last point the internet often has blogs and comments about bad publishers. Read them but be discerning because sometimes the comments may come from an embittered author whose books were repeatedly turned down.
Step 7 – So you have now made a shortlist and want to decide where to send your precious MS. Remember you can send copies of the MS to several publishers at the same time. Better to fire off several barrels rather than just one bullet, scattered guns normally hit something; whereas, the single shot usually misses the target.
Make sure you really read the details of their submission guidelines. Each company will have a different slant as to how you contact them. Some want the whole MS; others don’t. Some want the first three chapters only; whereas, some publishers just want to see a synopsis of the book. Remember to keep strictly to the guidelines, or your MS may end up in the waste paper basket. And always send a stamped addressed envelope so that the copy can be mailed back to you. That way you are more likely to get a reply even if it’s not the one you wanted.
Step 8 – A warning! The ‘sharks’ out there often disguise themselves as bona fide publishers. They might look safe, but all they want is to chew on your money. This is not saying that ‘self-publishing’ companies are predatory. Most often they’re not because in the case of self-publishers you get what you pay for.
I am sorry to say that there are Christian companies out there in the big ocean that act like sharks. One such company contacted me and said they wanted to publish my book, but it wasn’t until the third or fourth email that they told me it would cost $18,000 up front. The contract also tied me into buying a hundred books at $10 a book. If however, you are serious about your writing, find a reputable publisher and use your best judgement to pick the right one. If it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t!
Step 9 – So you’ve sent your MS off; do not despair if after a short while you don’t hear back. Just be patient, and resist contacting the publisher to find out what’s the score. Most often it takes at least three months to get even an acknowledgement or even longer. I know that you are on tenterhooks, but the best way to stay sane is to ‘forget’ about the submission and get on with the next project. If you get rejections, don’t lose heart. Some of the most famous authors had hundreds of rejections before someone smart bought the book. Remember a lot of publishers make errors in their choices. The Harry Potter series was turned down by loads of agents and publishers. Have faith and keep knocking on doors; you’ll win in the end. The writers who found success are those who never gave up believing.
Step 10 – If you are a Christian writer, here’s a Ready auto transport service you can use. In short, what it does is post three chapters of your book and a brief author bio with your contact details on their website. The website is known to many Christian publishers who take a peek on a regular basis to see if there’s anything worthwhile posted there. It’s inexpensive, and your submission stays on the website for six months. One last piece of invaluable advice for Christian writers is this: remember the Lord is keenly interested in you and your work. Pray every day for success. I found success with an agent and a publisher who were five thousand miles away from where I live.
Care to share some of your publishing experiences?