Writers looking for a publisher must, first of all, THINK!

Way back in history when–after quite a few years of writing for newspapers and magazines–I came up with an idea for a non-fiction book, being published (or not) was comparatively simple.  You wrote the best book you could, probably finding advice and help from other writers, writing classes, writers’ magazines and “how-to” books, plus–sometimes–free-lance editors along the way.  Then you looked at a current copy of WRITER’S MARKET or another similar list of opportunities,  located agents and/or publishers (most often in New York) who presented work similar to yours,  and began submitting.  (Often getting rejections, submitting again, and submitting… until….)

Wow, has the publishing world changed.  New York biggies are now conglomerates, with home offices in Germany, France, and elsewhere, as well as in the United States.  These biggies manufacture and sell books, yes, but also offer  a whole department store full of entertainment and other services and “things.”  Except in small pockets within the overall firm, bottom line, not a love for books, rules corporate policy.  “BUY ONLY BESTSELLERS” is one long-time biggie rule I have heard quoted and, whenever I hear it, I always think  “Huh?”   In any case, we also hear that the chance of having one’s first book accepted by any of these biggies has decreased exponentially, and authors who have been with NY publishers a long time are being dropped.

But, if nature loves a vacuum, so does the publishing industry, and each year there are more small presses eager to answer the prayers of thousands of busy writers similarly eager to see their work in print (or, increasingly, on line).

So, what’s a writer to do?

Pay attention. Investigate. Ask others. Most of all, THINK.

What, as an author, do you really want?  What will satisfy you, make you happy?  (Be realistic.)  What do you want to publish? A  family history for grandchildren? A how-to book you’ll sell when you give workshops and business advice to groups in your profession?  A novel that will make you rich, and earn you adoring fans around the world?

Whoa! How did that last sneak in?  Replace it with: How about a work of fiction with your name on it as author that you’re going to do your darndest to promote in your own area, as well as (perhaps with the help of your publisher) distant places.

To help you as you think about options, you need to understand the following terms: Agents, E-publishing, small presses. mid-sized presses. P.O.D., subsidy publishers, self-publishing, distribution, promotion.  Know and understand the significance and place of each of these in the publishing business before you leap into the submission process.

As an author, you are running a small business. Don’t go into business with your eyes shut.  There’s lots of help out there, beginning with the before-mentioned magazines and books full of advice for writers.  Join a writers’ group, attend conventions and conferences in your genre, continue THINKING, processing options.  Published authors consider understanding the publishing pond (or, maybe, roiling ocean) important enough that they frequently speak on the topic at meetings and conventions. (Example: At a four part pre-conference workshop at “Hardboiled Heroes and Cozy Cats,” a conference sponsored by Mystery Writers of America, SW Chapter, June 19-20 in Dallas, TX. this year, there will be a workshop on “Everything you wanted to know about publishing but were afraid to ask.” Speakers are L. C. Hayden and Radine Trees Nehring.  http://www.mwasw.org)

What motivates us is a creative urge, a love of words, and ideas that won’t stay hidden.

What allows us to share all that is publishing.  Sure, earning publication can be time-consuming, heart-wrenching, even boring, as each of us pours over options, thinks through pluses and minuses, or waits for replies from agents or publishers.  Is it worth it?  Only you can decide.  So THINK!

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3 Responses to “Writers looking for a publisher must, first of all, THINK!”

  1. radine Says:

    Thanks David. See, your instructions worked!

  2. David A. Todd Says:

    Glad to be of service!

    But as to publishing, for 99 percent of wannabe writers it’s a pipe dream, I’m afraid.

  3. Radine Says:

    Hi David,
    Well, IF writers are skilled in their language, and are willing to submit to comments and editing by a critique group, teacher, or free-lance editor, (it is virtually impossible for writers to be objective or alert enough to edit their own work thoroughly) and if they really want to work hard enough to see a book with their name on it, no, it is not a pipe dream. I agree that a zillion dollar contract with a NY conglomerate imprint is becoming more and more a remote pipe dream for most. BUT, every day I hear about new small presses looking for authors. Some of them may be all or part “subsidy” I don’t know, but the important thing to find is a publisher who can get you in distributors (so bookstores around the country can order your book) and (second) to realize that, with any publisher, you need to be ready and willing to promote on your own.

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