So you’ve managed to write a book and need to be picked up by a publisher. Now what? Well, the first thing you’ll need to do is figure out whether you need an agent or not. Check out our article about agents and how to find one. It can help you determine if you really need the help. If you decide not to hire an agent, don’t worry! You don’t need one to be successful. There’s a good chance that you can represent yourself to a publisher just fine. If after doing some research, you discover that you won’t be needing an agent after all, then this article is for you! Read more below to understand more about getting published without the help of an agent.
These days many new authors don’t have agents and still get their books published just fine. In fact, most publishing houses that aren’t “Big Fives” don’t require you to have an agent at all. Most of the time they just provide submission requirements that need to be followed. The only issue with representing yourself is that now you have to do the work of negotiating your contract with a potential publisher (if you can find one to take you.) Publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts reject more than 90% of submissions for one reason or another and you have to make sure that your story stands out! For tips to increase your chances of getting accepted, read my article here about Landing Your First Book Deal.
A great way to begin your search for a publisher is to search online for a publisher near you. While it’s true that a publisher could service you from anywhere in the world, I’m a big fan of the idea of using a local publisher. The reason for this is that a good publisher will work closely with you to make sure that you have the most opportunity for growth as an author. This can mean anything from book openings to trade shows and events where you both need to be present. If you and your publisher are in the same vicinity, it can be much easier to coordinate travel to these events. Geographical closeness to your publisher is also useful for the ease of creating signed copies and conducting on-camera interviews. The only drawback to using a local publisher is that you can’t always guarantee they’ll be any good. Publishing is a complicated profession and there is no standard by which a publisher must hold themselves to. It is always wise to research the credibility of any potential publisher before you sign their contract. Starting out, take a look at previous books they’ve published not only to see if they are capable of delivering what they promise but also to see if you like their work. While you’re at it, see if they belong to any communities or associations of publishers. (yup that’s a thing.) The other day as I was doing some personal research, I came across this great list of 100 publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts by Erica Verillo, a published author herself. Most, if not all of these publishers seem to be well-established and have fruitful portfolios.
Next up is to compile a list of publishers that you want to target. This list should be about 10-12 publishers long and contain only publishers that you think would be a good fit for your book. Remember that just because a publisher doesn’t require you to have an agent, it doesn’t mean that they will want to publish your book. It’s important not to give up. The reason you only want 10-12 publishers on your list is so that it’s easier to keep track of where you’re at in your querying journey. If more than one publisher shows an interest in your work you’ll be able to negotiate efficiently for a better deal. The last thing you want to do in this situation is to scramble yourself.
Once you have you’re lists made out, it’s time to send your manuscript! Publishers often have very specific guidelines for how you need to send your manuscript. From format to font size they will expect you to follow these guidelines to a fault. This is a test of your ability to follow instructions, not because we can’t use MS Office. When you sign a deal with a publisher, you do sell your soul in a sense. With big houses, you’ll likely be required to change your book to meet their wants and desires. Not every publisher is like this but quite a lot of them are. This especially applies to massive houses that have little time to cater to an author’s every whim. With big presses, you’re either in or out!
While I have you here, take a look around and see if HIP is right for you. Huntsville Independent offers a more profitable contract for our authors and is dedicated to serving writers everywhere. When you publish with HIP, You never pay a dime. We are a full-service traditional publishing house that also offers a comprehensive list of services. These services include editing, formatting, book printing, and even thesis binding! We look forward to assisting you along your journey to becoming a published author! If you learned something from today's article, share it with your friends! We hope to see you all again here next week for another installment of the Sunday Column. Have a positive and productive week!
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