All writers get to the stage where they think their work is “ready” for publication. For those of us who would love to get a publisher (or agent) to take us on, there are a few things that are essential otherwise you are wasting your time and that of any potential publisher.
First up, I am going to assume that you have had your work beta read, copy edited and it is absolutely the best version of your book that it can possibly be. If you have a niggle that something isn’t right, fix it first.
So, all that aside, you have to find a publisher to take you on. This is NOT easy. The important thing is to realise that you have to be an investigator who keeps meticulous records and takes the time necessary to find the right sort of publisher.
Establish what genre your book is. If it is a cross over of some sort, look up both. My first port of call is the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. Make sure you use an up to date version, not an old one. The publishing world is in a forever state of flux and what was done a year ago may be old hat now.
Go through the listing of publishers from A to Z and write down what publishers may be suitable for your work. The next step is to look up each potential publisher you have just listed and look at their website. Take time over this, for some, their submission guidelines are always that easy to find, persevere. Also check their “about us” pages and see what sort of books they are publishing to check that they are still relevant to your book. Some change, some add new genres, pay attention.
If that publisher is still a possibility, make sure that they are taking submissions from authors directly and not through an agent, otherwise you are wasting your time. Then pay particular attention to their submissions page. This is were they will tell you EXACTLY what they want.
From my experience of submitting to publishers in several different genres it is fair to say that all publishers are different in what they want. The list below is a sample of what I have found recently:-
- a 1 pages synopsis
- a 2 page synopsis
- a 500 word synopsis
- a 2000 word synopsis
- the first 2 chapters
- the first 3 chapters
- the first 1,000 words
- the first 10,000 words
- the first 10 pages
- the first 30 pages
- the whole book
- left justified only
- with author bio
- book blurb sample
- what recent 3 books are of a similar nature
- an “elevator pitch”
- your social media presence
You can see that there is a significant variation in what you need to submit to different publishers and the onus is on you to comply without question.
Fortunately now, most publishers now accept electronic submissions. They will tell you this on their submissions page. But, this can also be very specific. These are some of the requirements I have found recently:-
- All information cut into the body of one e-mail, no attachments
- a “cover letter” e-mail with 1 attachment comprising synopsis, text, bio and other information they ask for (this means you will have to cut and paste one specific file with all that they ask for)
- a “cover letter” e-mail with 2 attachments. One for the text, one for synopsis and everything else they ask for in the body of the “cover letter” e-mail
- submit via their electronic platform where you answer questions and fill in the required fields with what they want
All of this requires the writer to be vigilant and to submit what you have been asked to submit. I have a “submissions” folder on my computer for each book I have and there are many extracts of my work in there for specific publisher requirements. Most importantly, I have a spreadsheet of what I have sent and to whom I have sent it.
There are a lot more publishers out there than are listed in the reference books. I have joined a number of writers’ groups on Facebook and some of those do a great job of sending out lists of publishers accepting work directly from writers. One I got this week had a list of 25 publishers accepting YA submissions from authors.
There has never been a better time to be a writer, the opportunities out there are huge. If you are going to submit to a publisher (or agent, much of what I have said here applies to agents as well) give yourself the best possible chance by sending what that particular publisher has said they want. Don’t fall at the first hurdle by being lazy. It may have taken you a year or more to get your book written and ready. Do the research, give yourself the best chance possible.