Friday, September 11, 2009

Researching Publishers


One word. Three syllables. Simple, right?


The word "publishers" encompasses an entire book's worth of material. Have you physically picked up a Writer's Market lately? The book's got to weigh five pounds! Don't worry, I'm not asking you to read it, although it's a fabulous resource.

Do you know the publisher best suited for you?

Before you can answer, you need to know the genre book you write. Take a field trip to a major book store and browse the aisles. Take notes on the publishers who release books similar to yours. Still aren't sure which genre you write? Start studying. There are blogs, articles in magazines such as The Writer, and books devoted to help you determine this.

Now that you know what genre your book fits into, you can start researching publishers. Consider the following questions.

-Is your dream to be published through a large, established publisher?

-Are you willing to break in with a smaller, newer publisher?

-Do you want a traditional relationship where the publisher pays you an advance followed by royalties?

-Do you want to see your book in print, or are you comfortable with it in e-form?

-Do you want to self-publish?

To understand the differences between self-publishers and traditional publishers, read the linked article from Writer's Digest, "What Can Your Publisher Do For You?"

When I say I want to get published, I mean I want my books to be published in print form by a traditional publisher, and I want to get paid an advance and royalties for them. There are many reputable companies, large and small, who publish books in print or e-form. These publishers take on responsibilities such as editing, cover art, copyrights, printing the book, distributing the book, and marketing the book. They pay the author an advance and royalties. The author does not pay the publisher.
Then there are reputable companies who provide self-publishing services. In this instance, the author may be responsible for cover art, copyrights, distributing and marketing the book, depending on the publisher. The author pays these fees or pays for X amount of books up front and only gets paid when someone purchases the book.

Traditional publishers make money from book sales, and they have a vested interest in getting your books in bookstores. It can be difficult to get your book in bookstores if you use a self-publishing service, and the author will need to employ intense marketing strategies.

Please, be leery of legal publishers who prey on those wanting to get published by seeming to be a traditional publisher but who actually offer a form of self-publishing. I have no problem with self-publishing companies who are up front about their practices. If an author chooses to go that route, that's her decision. However, some of these companies mislead the author into believing the book will be treated the same as a traditional publisher would treat it, when in reality, the author must pay to have the book published.

When you have narrowed down what you want out of a publisher, compile a list of possible companies. Go to each publisher's website and print out their writer's guidelines. Before you submit to them, verify their submission policy.

Why are you doing all of this? Because a publisher who specializes in non-fiction will not publish your contemporary romance novel. Also, some publisher's do not accept unsolicited material. You must have an agent to submit to them.

It never hurts to check out Preditors and Editors. It's a site devoted to helping writers discern between legitimate publishers and scammers.

We have a responsibility to research the publishers we query. When we have the information in front of us, we can make informed decisions.

Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. Great information, Jill, and wonderful links for reference.

    Happy Friday!

  2. Good morning!

    Heather: Aren't we lucky to have all of these tremendous online resources? Thanks!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  3. Jill, I love online stuff that can help me. Thanks for the info.. I know an author self publishing. He seems happy with it. I don't think it's for me though.

    Traditional for me. I am going to try to get an agent. Then maybe he/she can sell my picture books too.

    I hope you have a great weekend.

  4. Great post, thanks for the links. Awesome information and great questions that I had not thought of asking myself before.

  5. Jill, this is all great info. I'm a traditional publisher type of girl, but my problem is that I'm not sure what other publishers there are out there, other than my targetted one, for my wips so far. I really need to do some research and start sending out to others as well.

  6. Great educational insight. AGAIN! :D I'm enjoying learning more, but when it comes down to it, I'm hoping to have enough trust in my agent to guide me through this as well.
    ~ Wendy

  7. Great post Jill! Very helpful, esp. for those who don't know too much about publishing yet. I think it's so sad when someone gets fooled into paying for their book to be pubbed, but like you, I have nothing against a publisher who's upfront about who they are.
    I would prefer to go the traditional route, but we'll see what happens. LOL

  8. Wow--this post was packed with great information! I'm willing to start with a small publisher if I have to!

  9. Robyn: Absolutely. I think we're blessed to have so many options in publishing.

    Tabitha: I think we can ask ourselves these questions on a regular basis, too, because the more we know, the more open we are to a different approach. Or the answers we come up with might solidify our current approach--both are good!

    Eileen: I know! It's hard to know where we can submit when we write category. I do know Heartsong has a category line. I believe Avalon might have a category line too.

    Wendy: Agents are such a boon! They cut out much of the need for research, don't they?

    Jessica: Yes, I don't like seeing authors so eager to see their books published, they'll fall for anything. It's just wrong.

    Terri: I believe The Wild Rose press is buying books right now. They're very respected and I hear they're nice to work with.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  10. Most of the time, I find what I'm looking for online. I have a set group of publishers I target. After careful research, I found that for agents, Novel & Short Story Writers Market was actually better than writers market, so I use that. But I always go to the agent's website for the contact info. I just use the book for the name.

  11. Good information. I've been doing some research on publishers lately, some of those that would definitely fit my genre. Every single one of them does not accept unsolicited queries. They either want submission from agented authors or you have to be a multi-published author (probably pretty well-known). It's a challenge, but doing your research definitely does help.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  12. Great post. I needed to read this. I'm hoping for a big publisher for better distribution but it's all in God's hands.

  13. Great tips! You have a great weekend, too.

  14. Excellent post, Jill. It's important to know in detail what we're shooting for. If the Lord wants to change our hearts along the way, fine, but at least we can start out with a blueprint of our dreams.
    Blessed Weekend,
    Audience of ONE

  15. Great post, Jill! I can't imagine how publishing worked before the internet! I feel so lucky that researching agents and publishers i just a click away.

  16. great post! There are so many things to consider. I did do the self-publish about six years ago and I had a great experience with it. However, there are so many scams out there its hard to know which way to go...a lot of research is needed. However, I enjoyed it and there were many reasons I needed to go that route at the time. It's not for everyone, but I had a blast doing it and found a respectable amount of success with it. So, great information and thoughts!!

  17. Stephanie: Interesting--I'm writing that tidbit down. The best information I've gotten regarding agents was from word of mouth. It's helpful knowing writers!

    Cindy: Right. It's important to know which publishers require an agent and which will accept manuscripts from authors directly.

    T.Anne: It is all in God's hands! Nicely put!

    LazyWriter: I'm definitely having a good weekend! Thanks!

    Jen: Oh, I agree. It's good to have a plan and to be flexible. We never know where we'll end up!

    Lisa & Laura: I would be a wreck without the Internet! What a timesaver! And it's very helpful to find how editors and agents want submissions too.

    Amber J: It's great to hear you had a good experience with self-publishing. I'll bet you could write about the pros and cons of the experience.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  18. thanks for the info, jill. very concisely put. :)

    enjoy your weekend!

    Where Romance Meets Therapy

  19. Jeannie: Thanks! Have a great weekend, too!

  20. Great points, Jill. I purchase Sally Stuart's Christian Writers' Market Guide every year. She does a thorough job presenting publishers.

    An additional step I've taken is to heed the advice to read in the genre I write. By doing so, I'm becoming familiar with the books being published by the different houses. I've found some I think would be a better fit for my stories than others this way.

  21. I have a friend who went w/ a small publisher on her first book and it actually made selling her second book much more difficult. I agree with you - we should be informed, think of all angles before making a decision. That is one reason for an agent..they have those relationships and know where your work would be best suited.

  22. Keli: Great strategy. The more familiar we are with the types of books the publisher is releasing, the better chances we have of writing a book that will appeal to that house.

    Tess: Yes, I've read stories about that happening too. I don't think it's so much the small publisher as it is the sales. Some small publishers do a tremendous job marketing their books, causing the books to have solid sales. Others might not put the money and effort into getting the books in stores or to reviewers, and the result can be weak sales. Publishers definitely look at your previous book's sales. It's something to consider.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  23. You outlined the difference between both publishers so very well! Great job! You should add this blog post to your side bar for a quick reference, especially for newer writers! It is certainly something I would have been able to read early on!

  24. Wow! What great info! I'm not ready to start submitting, but I know there will come a day when I will definitely need to know all about the publishing world. Thanks for educating me. :)

  25. Hi Jill -

    While it's nice to have all these resources online, it's even nicer when someone pulls them into a single article. :)



  26. Good, information post, as usual, Jill! I can't imagine what it would be like to try to be informed without the internet. I'm so happy I live in the 21st century. :)

  27. Jill, this was some really great information. Thank you. I definitely am with you in that I am seeking traditional publication. Do you think it is easiest with an agent? That is my general opinion so that's what I'll start seeking out next year.

  28. Jody: Well thank you--you just made my week with your kind words!

    Sherrinda: You'll be submitting before you know it. Look how fast last year went!

    Susan: What a nice compliment--thanks!

    Katie: Me too! And I get a creepy feeling when I think of typewriters. I would have had to invest in gallons of white out!

    Regina: Tough question. Yes, I think it's easier to get published with an agent. It can be hard to get one thought. There are publishers who accept queries from authors who don't have an agent. Harlequin's category lines, Kensington, Dorchester, Wild Rose, and many others allow authors to query directly. I know two fabulous authors who had agents initially pass on their books, but editors offered them contracts so the authors went back to their top pick agents who then represented them. (Confused?? :)) Tenacity can make a huge difference between getting published and not getting published.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  29. No matter how fancy things get, I know that if I ever did get published, I'd want to see an actual book come out of it. It's been my secret dream for too long to spoil that part of it now.

  30. Kristen T.: Thanks! I appreciate it.

    Nancy: Isn't it great to know what you want? I'm with you--I want to physically pick up my book at a bookstore. What a day that will be!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!


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