Tips on querying a publisher
The submission of a book is where you make your first impression. You don’t have the luxury, always, of sitting face to face with someone when you do this. Often this is done online and we all know that online is a cold, cold place. Don’t lose your opportunity to have your story told by not being personable on the cold Internet.
Here is a checklist for you to look over when you’re submitting to a publisher.
1. Are they accepting submissions and are they looking for what you’ve written? Very important, they don’t have time to ponder over your sci-fi when they’ve only requested romance and thriller. Do some research.
2. What do they want from you?
This is usually very specific. They will want some information on who you are. A well worded email, that doesn’t drag on, is very valuable. Make sure you look to see if they just want a query with a blurb on the book, do they want just a few chapters? Do they want the whole thing? Do they have a certain word count? Don’t make it an attachment unless they ask. FOLLOW DIRECTIIONS! The reason publishing houses have their submission guidelines on their website is for the authors to follow them. Submissions are rejected if an author does not follow directions. Why would a company want to invest in them and put up with them if they can’t do a few things right?
3. Have someone look over your submission. Very often items transferred from a document to an email begin to miss letters and words. Though this might have been very innocent, it does not reflect well.
4. Name dropping an author’s name that has published with the company is fine, but not an automatic contract.
5. Never, and I repeat never, address the publisher in all capitol letters. It is rude, unprofessional, and the delete button is then the only option. Never, say you write for a certain publishing house on social media that you don’t. That makes a statement not truthful and the publishers see that. They don’t want any part of an untruthful person.
6. When closing your email the phrase, “I look forward to hearing back from you,” will go a lot further than, “I can’t wait for you to publish me.” ACK!
7. Haven’t heard back from them? It’s okay to follow up kindly.
8. Did hear back from them? Awesome! If they requested materials, don’t be late with what they request of you. If they didn’t request your manuscript a nice “Thank you for your time” email will also go a long way if you ever query them again.
Some other things to consider when querying a publisher:
1. Are they in the U.S.? U.K.? This will matter to you. First, many houses are small. They are going to focus on their immediate market first.
2. Email them if you have specific questions on how they work with their authors. What do they expect from you if you were to ever write for them?
3. Contact an author that has books published with them. In fact, ask a few of them. Every publishing house has happy authors and not so happy authors. Get both sides to it and make a very informed decision.
4. Do they have any bestsellers? What do their covers look like? What does their website look like? How long have they been in business? What organizations are they part of?
Certainly this isn’t a full and precise list, but it’ll get you started when you’re ready to query a publisher.
The more prepared you are the better off you’ll be for rejection or acceptation.
Have a glorious day!
Bernadette Soehner, CEO 5 Prince Publishing