Monday, July 9, 2012

If You Want To Get a Publisher

If you want to go the big publisher route you have to understand the dance. The bottom line of publishing is sales – which may sound like an obvious statement but it’s about as obvious as the saying that bottom line of all kinds of dancing is to move. Each part of the publishing industry, and that includes bookstores and agents for purposes of this discussion, are puzzle pieces that are interrelated all based on helping your market find you.. So start at bookstores. Bookstores have areas where your look for the books you’re interested in. If you’re interested in children’s books you’ll go immediately to the children’s book section. Same for every genre – self-help, psychology, medicine, history, science fiction, romance – down the line. So your first question is what shelf does my book fit on? (Be very certain that it fits on only one shelf which will be the topic of another blog.) The second question is who publishes in my section? You will find that different publishers specialize in different genres. The big publishers have bought up little publishers that specialized in certain areas that generally compliment the big publisher and they still specialize within the context of the bigger publishers. Notice how many of the books you read for your field have the same publishers. Then come the agents. Most publishers tell you that you cannot submit a book to them without an agent. Which isn’t totally true but true enough for this discussion. Agents generally have come up through the publishing ranks. They have made connections in certain publishing houses and just as the publishers specialize so do the agents. There are numbers of books in the resource section of your library or bookstore which will guide you to agents (who are your first step to getting into the publishing houses). Those books have sections which break the agents down according to their specialty. They will often tell you which houses they work with. They will often list the books they have placed. Pay attention. You want the closest fit possible between your book and your agent because then it will have the greatest chance of being accepted by a publishing house. This is very humbling information because most of us think our books will sell because they’re interesting. They will only sell if they are interesting, but the dance of matching the agent and the publisher is what gets you and your book in the door. – That and an excellent proposal.

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