Manuscripts Wanted – The Contracts and Marketing Side of Publishing

 

There are days when I feel as if everyone I know is a writer, and that they are all looking for the same thing, to be heard. The pursuit of finding someone to accept a manuscript for publication is at best disheartening.

Many begin to feel that continued rejection is about as miserable as a writer will ever feel – it is not. Signing with the wrong publisher not only brings misery in a new and clever package, but it can also quite possibly destroy the inclination to write.

Greed and deception are as prevalent in publishing as anywhere else. There are many companies willing to take an author’s money and hard work. The irony is that it is given just for the asking. Choosing a good company to work with is equally important as the words chosen in the manuscript.

In an author beware world it pays to be informed. This guideline is designed to help you make decisions based on information, rather than emotion.

The Company
Like it or not, you and your publisher enter into a kind of marriage, the kind of marriage where their name attaches itself to you. Think about that.

An important facet of the relationship is the reputation your new partner has in the industry. If their stature is questionable, it may be difficult to find reviewers, distributors and even readers. It’s called guilt by association. Therefore, your first order of business is to do research.

One way to establish a publisher’s reputation is to visit your local bookstore and ask the owner if they are known. If so, what are they like to do business with? Using the Internet to investigate the company’s name and their officers is also an advisable avenue. Still another approach is to post questions within various writing groups. By far, writing groups can be your best source of information.

Be direct and ask the publisher how many books they put into print last year. How many to date? Are they willing to provide you with a list of their authors for references?

A useful gauge in picking a publisher is knowing how well the company treats its authors. Find out how many books the average author has with this house – you want to know if authors stay for more than one book.

The Product
Something else to consider is the book itself. Just what is it this company is going to produce for you? A hardback? Trade paperback? Paperback? E-book? Ask them what the size is going to be, along with an estimated page count. What is the proposed list price?

What you need to establish is how well your book is going to stand up to the competition – other books sitting on the shelf in your genre. If similar titles are selling in the $13 -$15 range, and the publisher wants to list yours at $22, your book may be tough to sell. Price does matter.

Find out what services the publisher provides. Editing? Copy Editing? Format? Cover Design? Copyrights? How about help with the permissions for songs or quotes? Are there any fees attached? Will the publisher help you locate a well-known author or celebrity to write a forward? What about that all-important back cover blurb – any help there?

Is the editing accomplished electronically or is it sent snail mail? How many edits should you expect? How long does the process usually take? Will the product have an ISBN? How about a bar code? Will they provide the author with any free copies? How many? Is this publisher willing to send you a sample of their current work? The sample should ultimately be a reflection of something you would be proud to put into public view.