How to choose a publisher

One good way to find the right publisher for your book is to find similar books in your topic area or genre, and submit your manuscript to the publishers of those books.

When using this method, you do need to ensure that a book very similar to yours hasn’t been published very recently. Publishers will often reject books that are too similar to those they are currently trying to promote. You’re looking for books related to yours, but not exactly the same. Books that will have a similar audience.

Yes, that’s very hard to figure out. I never said this was easy.

You can also check market guides such as 2014 Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition (Writer’s Market Online) for general works or The Christian Writer’s Market Guide 2013: Your Comprehensive Resource for Getting Published for the Christian submarket. Writers Market is also available as an online database. The Christian Writers Guild, publishers of the Christian Market Guide, are still working on joining the rest of us in the 21st century. Yeah, as a specialist in the Christian submarket, I’m a little disappointed about that. But I am told they’re planning to have an online market guide by 2015. In the meantime, get out your sticky notes and highlighters.

In addition to reading market guide listings, you must also check out a publisher’s website before submitting your manuscript to ensure you meet their requirements. For example, some Christian publishers won’t accept a book with vulgarity in it, and some general publishers won’t accept a book with Jesus in it. Targeting your book to the right publisher—and sometimes the right editor within a large publishing company—is critical. When contacting the editor, you should be able to complete this sentence: “I think my book would be a good fit for your publishing house because _____.”

Please note that “your company was the next one listed alphabetically in the directory” is an inappropriate answer.

One restriction you’ll find at many publishers, especially the larger ones, is “no unsolicited submissions.” Unsolicited is publishing-speak for a manuscript that is neither represented by an agent nor one an editor specifically asked for. To approach these publishers, you’ll either need an agent, or you’ll need to get the editor to ask you for the manuscript. Writers’ conferences are the best way to reach agents and editors. We’ll talk more about that next week, and later I’ll discuss what to do if a conference is out of your reach.

Disclosure of Material Connection: The book links above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a pittance of a commission from Amazon. Regardless, I only recommend products I believe will be valuable to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

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