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Choosing the right publisher is vital to the process of getting published, and with such a wide variety of markets and publishing options available, it’s critical that authors research those options. To help shed some light on the process of finding a publisher, I’ve put together a list of top tips from my 14 years of experience.
- Be aware of the different choices you have. The publishing industry is evolving and as well as traditional publishing there are a variety of routes for an author and options for them to invest in their own work, either through self-publishing or cooperative publishing.
- Know how traditional publishing houses work. Usually they will look to to guarantee a good return on investment and are looking for something that sounds new and innovative while also being reliably marketable. Publishers look at trends in book sales to establish whether there’s a market for your book. It is important to remember that new markets are created all the time, and all it takes is a spark of inspiration, a little research and lots of dedication.
- Have specific targets in mind. Know what you want go get out of the process in addition to book sales.
- Be open-minded about your work. Strike a balance between the integrity of your work and the potential for publishers and editors to improve it. Publishers have the experience to turn a great idea into a commercial success with often minor tweaks. After all, both of you want to produce the best book possible.
- PR is the best way to get news out and achieve media coverage. Research your publisher’s PR department as a third party endorsing you will add a lot to your credibility and means you don’t have to ‘sell yourself’. Some companies use their marketing department for PR, the effectiveness of which depends on the sort of relationships these departments can forge with key contacts in the media. PR is a full time job which is best done by professionals.
- Don’t waste too much time chasing a book deal. It typically takes 12-18 months from signing the contract to seeing a book in print. If your plan A is to secure a traditional publishing deal, I recommend you consider your Plan B to be taking control of the process and either self-publishing or using the services of a cooperative publisher.
- Call in the professionals. If you do invest in your own book, consider using a full-service or a cooperative publishing partner, who can do a lot of the leg work for you, managing the entire project and reaching more outlets and readers than you could do on your own. Take the most professional path you can afford; the best cooperative publishers launch your book to the media and get it listed with hundreds of sites in addition to Amazon. They will get your book into bricks and mortar stores and can even arrange translation deals.
- Edit your work. Whatever route you take, make sure that you’re using a professional editor with plenty of experience working on full-length books.
- Get to know your publishing team. You will be speaking to them on a regular basis, so it’s vital that you get to know your publishing team and know how they work as a team. Working with the right team is critical, so it’s important that you’re compatible and get along. You’ll know straight away if the fit isn’t right for you.
- Seek guidance from the beginning. It would be a shame not to seek the advice which could turn a great idea into a commercial success; remember the experience publishers have and take advantage of their skills to complement your own.