Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Zero in on Your Hero Publisher
It’s not easy. This is a step for the authors that have moved on from the idea of getting an agent. Because that’s not easy either. In fact, it’s even harder. Agents need to be so selective, one or two wrong moves, their career won’t be moving too good. So they have every right to be as selective as possible. That’s their job. Watch the market. See what is hot and what is not and study and read like crazy to find what they are looking for.
If an agent doesn’t want you, you then act as the agent for your own work. Hunt, dig deep. Keep looking. Keep your submissions active. If you hit a bust, move on. If you submitted to a bust and they offer and you have doubts, move on. Don’t ever feel bad for doing it either. You can still get good feedback this way and it will help in the honing process.
But if your work isn’t what they are looking for, you still need to look out for your work yourself. Don’t just give up because of whatever many rejections, whether it’s 2 or 202. Why would you give up on something so precious as your time and energy and love crafted in your own words? If you wrote it and finished it and polished it to your liking, give it a shot and query. Let it go through the query process for as long as you can take. And if you can’t take it anymore, don’t stop there. Continue on with your mission, setting your sights on publishers. So you’ve set your bar high and have to readjust it. Don't sweat it. But don’t let the bar drop down so low you have no idea what you’re getting into either. RESEARCH. And I don’t mean, just research. I mean hunt down and harpoon that sucker from a million miles away if you have to. There are publishers that are willing to put your book to justice if you only do your extensive research.
Okay, so you’re down and out and still want to give it a whirl. You type in the Google bar: Publishers. Buzz, wrong. Too many links come up, where do you start first? How many pages do I have to look at to get where I want to go? I’m getting nowhere with this! I'm getting a headache. Stop. Focus. And start honing it down again. If you don’t know your genre, back up and study that first. If you send your work to a place you're not sure of, test it. See if it works. If not, what's the worst that could happen? A rejection? Really no rejection is the worst. You want some kind of feedback and if all you get is "not for us" ok then, now you know. Move on. Read the guidelines for every potential publisher. If you don’t know, check out some of their books like they say to do. They are trying to help you too.
Make sure of what you are writing first and foremost. Is it mystery-suspense? Romantic suspense mystery sci-fi thriller? If it’s a mixed bag of things, focus on the strongest element. Is the book more suspenseful than it is romantic? Does it have paranormal elements? Again read the guidelines and study their books. They are there for a reason.
Find out what that publisher has to offer and what you want in a publisher and what you are willing to negate and what you really want to have for your book. The marketing of a book is an extremely important factor to have for a publisher. Look at who the distributor is, is it a familiar one? Or is it from some weird unknown place you’ve never heard of before? See what’s out there. How much comes up on these publishers? Are they in the library? Will your book be offered in print as well as e-book?
You as the author will need to put that agent hat on and weigh the pros and cons and do what’s right for you and your book.
There are more and more doors opening up for authors to submit directly to the bigger publishers. Scope out the places that are still willing to accept unagented submissions that still offer the things you want, like placement in an actual bookstore and an advance.
Please try to watch out for the small author-mill type publishers that are willing to offer you a contract in a short time and that you know it will only be online to order. If you see the publisher pumping out 10 to 15 books a month? And they’re a tiny publisher no one even heard of? That is a red flag right there. Good chances are, you will be poorly edited, get a slapped-together cover, and have low sales. And all you’ll have to show for it is a writing credit. Yay, I was published! Good. Now do you want to get published and paid?
Drop those publishers like a poor lover that doesn’t know what love is. Because I may be a stupid woman, but I know what love is. And that’s not it. They won't give a shit about your book and your platform. In fact they’ll shit on your platform and leave you with a bad rep. Agents might look at you and your tiny writing credentials and see low sales on Amazon. It’s not fun. So in other words, these small publishers could hurt you in the long run.
So, let’s recap. Don’t give up, first of all. Give yourself adequate time to query. Give yourself a number even if you want to. I am going to query, 50 agents or 100 agents or 500 agents, until I've had enough. Then I am going to move onto the publishers. Research. Sites like Preditors and Editors, AbsoluteWrite, Publisher’s Marketplace, Publisher’s Weekly, Writers Digest, Agentquery, Querytracker(net) are all good starts. Each and every one of these places have helped me really hone down my writing path. Be sure you know what you are writing. If your book is heavy Sci-Fi, you hit the sci-fi publishers first.
Another important note to remember: If you get feedback from an agent or publisher or the whole flock, right down to that mystery critiquer from your writing community, listen. It doesn’t mean you have to do what they tell you to do for the book. And if they tell you really negative things, toss it and move on. It’s useless information. Just take what really hits home and that you think will make your book better. Really important to remember: Do what you want to do, don’t do everything everyone will tell you either. Your book will be directionless because you let everyone else guide it away from your main idea. You can’t please everyone. But you do however want to please your targeted audience because you are zoning and honing in on their crowd, whether YA or MG or picture books. So why not zero in on that perfect fit of a hero publisher that will do your book right?
For more helpful resources, please visit: Rachelle Burk's Resources for Children's Writers