If we go to a job interview, we make sure that we are neatly dressed so that we make a good impression. Similarly, a good presentation of your writing and yourself will make a huge difference to the chances of you getting a contract with a publisher, so let’s explore what you will need to do.
It is a good idea to find out as much as you can about your chosen publisher. This would include searches in Linked In, other social media to see what they post and what genres they prefer, and the specific focus of their publishing endeavor. For example if they are academic publishers and you have children’s books, applying to them would be pointless.
Do have a look at the website to find out what the criteria are; such as do they consider unsolicited manuscripts? Some publishers prefer to work with literary agents, while others are open to free submission.
Include a comprehensive personal biography. Mention any previously published work and if it is still in print. List your personal achievements as well, such as any literary prizes you may have won. Mention also any associations where you may be active, such as writers’ groups, or professional groups. You do this to establish your capability in your particular field.
Put forward your marketing plans for your book. If you are a non-fiction writer do you have established media exposure such as a You Tube channel, a blog or website? Are you planning any public lectures or workshops? Are you a member of any online group/s where you would be allowed to speak about your life’s work and your book?
Include a précis of your manuscript and your reasons for writing it. If you choose to submit selected chapters only then you should mention the overall word count.
All the above actions and ideas will help a publisher to make a decision to commit to publishing your masterpiece. My experience with submissions is that very few writers go to the trouble of working on a good presentation. Those that do that will make a big impression on the publisher.
We should not forget that a publisher’s job is to publish and this does not include marketing. Most publishers do offer marketing packages at a range of fees.
The author is by far the best ambassador for their book, so an enthusiastic and credentialed author can make the publishing decision easy.
Vanity Publishers perform a service for money where they will produce your book professionally. They usually deliver a professional quality product, but it can be quite expensive. The downside of this is that there is no Gatekeeper for the quality of content. Essentially, if you can pay the money then you qualify. Standards are low because the author takes on all the financial risks.
There are no good prospects of sales because the market tends to be flooded with low-quality books and traditional booksellers usually refuse to buy titles from these ‘publishers’. Contributing to this is self-published books (covered in more detail in the next blog).
The open gates policy of Vanity and self-publishers has led to a veritable flood of titles being published. At the last count more than a million titles a year are published in the English language alone. It becomes very difficult to get noticed in such a crowded marketplace. Good marketing becomes essential.
The deals on offer vary quite a lot, so one has to look at the contract to see the details. Vanity publishers are poorly thought of in the book world, because of their open-door policy with no gatekeeper.
A very important consideration for all authors is what genre does your book fall into?
I recommend visiting a book store to make a note of the genres as listed on the shelves.
Which one will your book fall into?
If you can’t categorise it, then the book store manager will not know where to put the book, so it might end up getting lost on a shelf where it doesn’t belong.
My company published a series of novels by one author which was categorized as Visionary Fiction. Most book shops don’t have a genre like that so her books generally ended up in Fantasy or Science Fiction, neither of which is correct.
Visit several bookshops if possible because every book shop caters to a different market.
Take a note of how many books are on each of these shelves to get an idea of your competition and the popularity of the genre.
While you are there do have a critical look at aspects like cover design and how the books are laid out.
As usual, there are trends and fashions in book design. Also bear in mind that design styles are different for every country. In the USA the popular trend has been for covers featuring fancy graphics and fonts with a small but impactful image on the front cover. whereas the UK and Europe are generally more conservative.
The United States market remains huge and very important so their influence has to be taken into account.
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