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Researching publishers: Editor's Notes #255
February 21, 2018

Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.
—William Jennings Bryan

In this issue:

1. Researching publishers
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt

1. Researching publishers
Whether you believe you will self-publish or plan to use a traditional publisher, researching publishers can yield helpful information.

Each publisher specializes in something specific. Your job as a researcher is to find the publishers that best match your book, which will be considered only if it aligns with the publisher’s catalogue, the list of books already published.

There are books and Web sites that list publishers. Some go further and give a great deal of helpful information. Your local librarian is also a great resource when researching publishers. Online, use search terms such as "romance publishers" or "young adult fiction publishers" or "publishers of history" or "craft book publishers". Also consider regional publishers. (See the links under Interesting Web site.)

Be familiar with the current catalogue of the publisher. Many publishers have a catalogue online, and libraries usually have hard copies they will let you look at.

Focus your research into publishers. Here is a list of topics I suggest you use to create a template for collecting information on publishers. Use a spreadsheet or a word document or a card file to keep your records. Just keep them consistent. Following the list is why these pieces of information are important.

Name of publisher
Mailing Address
URL of Web site
Contact for submissions or queries
What do they publish? (Genre, age, tone, region, etc.)
What are they asking for?
Are they taking submissions?
Books like yours (include how they are different)
Submission Guidelines

Keep all the contact information in one place to save yourself time later. Be careful in entering this information. Errors here create the impression that you are not professional enough to bother dealing with.

The contact person changes often, so always double-check this information each time you submit to a publisher, even if you’ve submitted there previously.

Some publishers let writers know what they are looking for. If so, pay attention. You have a much better chance of success if your book fills a recognized need for a publisher.

Publishers have long lead times. Sometimes they really can’t take any more new ideas. Sending in something to a publisher who has said not to send anything will not help you. Wait. Make a note in your calendar to check back later. Keep making notes and checking back until you see an opening.

Under "books like yours", go beyond the titles. Make notes about how each book is the same as yours as well as how each is different. This will help you to sell your book later. Note that if there are no books like yours in any significant way, you are looking at the wrong publisher.

Check every detail of the submission guidelines and follow each to the letter when it comes time to submit.

Use the information you have collected to decide which publisher seems like the best match for you. Submit to that publisher first. If there is more than one that seems a good match, it is fine to submit to more than one publisher.

The last entry on the template is for the result of your submission. If you send to more than one publisher or write more than one book, you will need a place to record what happened to your submission.

Best wishes to you as you dive into researching publishers.


2.Tickled my funnybone
Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.


3. Interesting Web site
Here is a list of publishers according to country or region. If you don’t see your place here, search for YOUR COUNTRY +PUBLISHERS.

4. Writing prompt
Here is a writing prompt to help you think about your book or story in a new way. Write the title vertically, one letter per line down the left side of a page. (If you don’t have a title for your own work, choose a different book you know well, and use its title for this exercise.)

Use the first letter of each line to enter a word that begins with that letter and that applies to your book in some way.

When you are done, you will have opened your mind to other ways to think about your writing. If you are really lucky, this may have nudged your writing onto a new path, nudged it back onto the old one, or given you a new way to help you describe your work to a potential publisher.

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