Search For A Publisher Match
From speaking with writers about their book proposals and manuscripts, most of them seem to be eager to find the largest publisher for their project. They are operating under the assumption that the larger publisher will have more marketing muscle and influence in the marketplace. If you are a bestselling author with a long track record of success (and recent success), then that might be a good assumption.
For the majority of authors who are starting out, they risk getting lost in a major house. Many years ago, one editor told me about a particular project that I was shopping to them, “We can catalog your book.” Now he spoke those words with pride as though it was a major accomplishment but it meant they would add my proposed book to their catalog—and nothing else in terms of marketing. Yes, my book would be presented to the stores in the sales meetings (read seconds of presentation time), but nothing else. It wasn’t much of an offer in my view so I continued looking for another publisher. Depending on where you are in the publishing process, such an offer may be a good starting point for you.
What is your dream publishing situation? Do you even have a dream beyond getting a publisher? I hope you are dreaming something specific then looking for a way to find that publisher. A bestseller to one publisher will be a mid-list book to another publisher. Do you want to be a small book in a huge publishing house or do you want to be a large book in a small publishing house?
The key is to find a relational match and someone who understands your vision for the book. In general, a medium to smaller publishing house is more approachable. They don’t “require” a literary agent—where the larger houses rarely look at something over the transom or submitted from the author without an agent.
Last weekend, I was reading this article in the December 3rd issue of Publishers Weekly titled, “Northern California: A Publisher for Every Taste.” If you look carefully at this article, you will see the focus of each publisher is different. Also notice most of these publishers are touting books with sales over a million copies. For the majority of books I’ve never heard of them and they often haven’t appeared on any bestseller list. How did that happen? It happened through consistent sales which were slow and steady.
Each of us want our books to land on the bestseller list and earn steady income for years ahead. In the majority of cases, such an experience doesn’t happen simply from “wishing it” into existence. What are you doing to promote and help your book which has been out for a while? Can you take the long-range view and move those books steadily into reader’s hands? Look for new audiences. Look for print and Internet publications that you can approach with an excerpt or an article from your book—which points to the whole book. It’s not easy but it can happen—if you work at it.