“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit
a blank Page.” ~~Jodi Picoult
A great book is not reason enough, unfortunately, for its publication. Besides, how does a publisher even know your book exists or if it is great? Publishers, and the literary agents that bring prospects to them, want to know not just whether a book is great, but if it is marketable. They want to know how the author will be instrumental, not merely involved, in the book’s promotion.
Before we outline what is needed to get published these days, let’s explore how most publishers really think.
First, most publishers, especially the Big 5, rarely look to the submissions slush pile to pick out a gem. They depend on literary agents to pimp manuscripts and authors they have already told those agents that they want.
Second, most literary agents will only represent an author if they feel the author can deliver what the publisher is demanding. For some, this comes down to some concrete metrics, including but not limited to:
· Past sales record if the author was published.
· Size of the author’s network/platform, such as social media follower numbers.
· The book’s genre.
· Uniqueness level of the book and how it stacks up to competitors.
· Whether the author sounds like he or she can sell a certain number of books though his/her connections, memberships, job, etc.
· Any indication by the author that he/she will buy a certain number of books.
· The quantity and quality of testimonials gathered by the author.
· A record of past media exposure for the author (are you promotable?)
· The author’s stated commitment to promote the book, perhaps even hire a publicist.
· The rights potential of the book: foreign, film, audio, etc.
Get the picture? It is all business.
There are publishers that will take a chance on someone who is not packaged up and ready to sell 10,000 copies, but their number is dwindling. Still, there are small presses, indie publishers, university presses, and niche publishers that will publish books that they believe are well written by qualified authors but who lack a guaranteed bulk-sale purchase or a certainty of media coverage. In other words, they publish on the merits of the content, not necessarily solely on the built-in sales guarantee. Some of these publishers may not rely on the filter of a literary agent, either.
Perhaps one way to get published is to publish it yourself, show some success with sales, media exposure, and social media – and then use that track record to convince a literary agent to represent you on a new book idea.
If you want to win over a literary agent or publisher, you will need to prepare the following:
· Query letter
· Book proposal
The personalized query letter is a one-page letter that cuts to the chase. It has five paragraphs, essentially stating this:
Introductory paragraph – why you sought them out and believe they would be great to collaborate with
What your book is about – keep it short
Why you are qualified to write it – don’t give a resume
Why such a book would sell – highlight how many millions fit the reader demographics
Concluding paragraph – request to share sample chapters, that you welcome to discuss details, or are happy to provide a book proposal
Your book proposal offers details to the key areas that a publisher or agent will need in order to see to be convinced you are worth working with.
Your book proposal is a combination of resume/ track record, vision/promise for the future, and a summary of what your book is, and how it compares to what it is in the marketplace.
Some proposals are dozens of pages long. The good ones include:
· Author bio (highlight accomplishments, not hobbies)
· Chapter-by-chapter summary (one paragraph per chapter)
· Overview of target readership demographics
· List of comparable titles
· Marketing plan details
· Testimonials secured
· Awards won
· Commitment to purchase books – if that is the case
· Three sample chapter and a table of contents
· Evidence of a platform — (speaker) or network (social media or organizational memberships), or voice (media clips)
Bottom line – you must establish that you have a great/unique/new book, that you are ideally positioned to write it, that the time is right for it to debut, that there is a strong marketplace for it, and that you will personally secure sales/media for it. Then they may say yes. Maybe.
To learn more about what it will take to get published, ask a publisher, literary agent, or author. Read Writer’s Digest, Publishers Weekly, Poets & Writers, or The Writer. Check out Writer’s Market: 2021.Attend writer conferences or publishing seminars. Learn and be empowered.
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Brian Feinblum, the founder of BookMarketingBuzzBlog, can be reached at email@example.com. His insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are the product of his genius. You can – and should — follow him on Twitter @theprexpert. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a “best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo.
- I came across a nice website for authors with children’s books. I see numerous ones looking for my own. Take a look and see if it interests you. Alberta
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers publishes picture books, middle reader and young adult fiction and nonfiction. We seek manuscripts that are honest, wise, and hopeful; but we also publish stories that simply delight us with their storyline, characters, or good humor. Stories that celebrate diversity, stories of historical significance, and stories that relate to contemporary social issues are of special interest to us at this time. We currently publish 12 to 18 books a year.
We strongly encourage writers and illustrators to become familiar with our publications and the general trade children’s book market before submitting any material. Please review our books in our catalog, on our website, or at your local library or bookstore to determine whether your manuscript or artwork is appropriate for us. We will also be happy to send you a recent catalog upon request.
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers accepts unsolicited hardcopy submissions, but we respond only to submissions we are interested in publishing. While we do not require submissions to be exclusive, we do ask that you inform us if you are simultaneously submitting it elsewhere, and certainly inform us if another publisher has expressed interest in your manuscript. If you have not heard from us after four months, you may assume that your submission does not fit the needs of our list.
For picture book submissions, please include the full manuscript. Except in the case of author-illustrators, we prefer that submissions not include artwork. For novel submissions, you may submit the full manuscript, or a query that includes a synopsis and at least three chapters of the manuscript.
Do not submit the only copy of your manuscript, and do not include an SASE; materials will not be returned under any circumstances. Be sure to include your contact information (including address, email, and phone number) on your cover letter.
Because of the volume of manuscripts we receive, we are unable to track receipt of submissions or respond to any inquiries as to the status of your manuscript. If you would like confirmation that your materials have been received, please include a self-addressed, stamped postcard with your submission. (Please note that postcards must follow USPS guidelines for size, height, and weight.) Our mailing of this postcard is not an indication of whether or not we are interested in your manuscript; it will be returned to you before your submission is evaluated, merely as proof that your submission was received.
Send manuscript submissions to:
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
4035 Park East Court SE
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546
We do not respond to queries or accept manuscript submissions via email or fax.
Illustrators are welcome to submit samples of their artwork. Please submit your portfolio or samples of your work and include a brief summary of your experience along with your contact information and your website. Do not send original art or include an SASE; illustration submissions will not be returned. We will keep your samples on file to be considered for projects to be developed in the future. Due to the large volume of submissions we receive, we are unable to respond to queries about samples.
Submit illustration samples to:
firstname.lastname@example.orgOr mail them to:
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
4035 Park East Court SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Visit: Alberta’s Books at www.amazon.com/author/albertasequeira
As disappointing as it can be, sometimes the relationship between authors and publishers can sour. Maybe you’re not happy with the way the company is being run or the way you’re being treated. You’ve decided you want to leave, but it’s not that easy since you’ve signed an enforceable contract. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t make every effort to be released from that contract.
Before you approach the publisher, determine exactly why it is you want to leave. Put together an unemotional list, highlighting the three most viable ones, i.e., publisher is non-responsive, royalties are consistently paid late, and edits are always getting lost. It’s important to create this list when you’re not angry over an email you’ve received from an editor or upset because, once again, you royalty payment is late. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be upset, but you must remain professional.
Review your contract as you’re writing the list. If the publisher guarantees to pay royalties by the 15th of the following month and always pays the 25th or later, you have a stronger leg to stand on when asking for a termination of the contract.
After your list is ready, put it aside for a few days then come back to see if you still feel like you want to attempt to be released from your contract. Give yourself plenty of time and space to make this decision.
Now that you’ve done that, it’s time to focus on how to approach your publisher.
- Always start the initial negotiation process in a professional, discreet manner. That means, don’t start a bonfire on the web about the publisher and don’t begin your discussion by attacking the publisher. There’s no need to use a battering ram when a simple knock on the door might do.
- Attempt to negotiate the release of rights using a sales clause in the contract. For instance, most contracts give the publisher the right to remove your book from publication due to lack of sales. If your book hasn’t been selling well, use that clause to approach your publisher. Send a polite request to the appropriate senior editor and ask them to forward the email to the appropriate party if they cannot fulfill your request.
- If the publisher won’t release the contract because of a sales clause or there isn’t one in your contract, then politely ask for a return of rights based on your list, basically the reasons you are unhappy. Again, remain polite. This is a negotiation; you don’t want to turn it into a hostage situation.
- Again, if you are turned down, tell the publisher you do not feel as though this is a mutually beneficial relationship. Let them know firmly you don’t want to continue with the contract. But, remember, you’re only turning up the heat slightly here.
- Give the publisher a decent amount of time to respond to each request (at least thirty days). Then follow up if you have heard nothing.
- If the publisher refuses, you have two options: get tough or wait out the expiration of the contract. Before you choose either one, take a few days and think about it. Don’t make a mistake which could very well damage your career. Getting tough will only work if the publisher has breached the contract, not just because you’re unhappy.
Many publishers are amenable to early contract releases if it’s best for both parties and if they are approached in the right manner. Some may ask for you to buy out the contract. If your book isn’t selling, this won’t amount to much; however, if your book is a good seller, the amount will reflect that. You have to decide whether or not you’re willing to buy out your contract, if that’s offered to you.
Ultimately, unless you’re willing to risk a court process, you are connected to that publisher until the contract expires or you are released. So it is important to keep the lines of communication open and calm. Negotiating takes finesse, and if you approach the publisher in the right way, your chances of being released are higher.
Visit: Dawn who has been the editor-in-chief of Vinspire Publishing (www.vinspirepublishing.com) since 2004, is a published author of fiction, and a freelance writer with over 500 articles published. She is also a writing instructor, a cover designer (www.etsy.com/shop/coffeeandcocoacovers), and video editor. Her personal website is www.rachelcarrington.com.
Website for Writers: www.albertasequeira.org
#1 Bestselling Author, Steven Manchester, Editing Services
Professional editing is absolutely necessary toward getting published. The industry standard for a complete copy edit ranges from $3 – $5 per double-spaced page. Steven charges $3; this includes a meticulous line-by-line edit for grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. As a successful author, Steve will also address plotting, character development, scene setting, and dialogue. Steve requires half down and the remainder upon completion of the project. The work can be completed electronically or in hard copy. Turnaround time for most projects is 4 weeks.
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