This is another in our continuing series Ask The Editor. Normally I edit the questions, if need be, but decided to leave this one as is. Explanation will come later.
The question comes from:
Big Bobby Boom and the Marble Mayhem
(Moose Hide Books 2009)
Question: I am published under a small independant press and have recieved wonderful reviews on this book from Schools, journalists, reviewers and readers alike and am in the process of having more published that are terrifically favourable as well. My question is, How can I bring this book to the attention of a larger publisher or larger distributor in order that they consider it for purchase of publishing rights in order to give it international exposure and distribution? Please let me know if you are able to offer me advice on this and the other authors who are facing the same challenge.
Answer: The stories of authors who successfully move from small press or self- publishing to a major press don’t mention how rare and how difficult that is. A book has to be exceptionally well-written and have a highly marketable concept. Case in point is Still Alice by Lisa Genova, Ph.D. It was first self published through iUniverse, received rave reviews, and was picked up by Pocket Books. Not only is it a beautifully written book, it deals with Alzheimer's, which is a hot topic of interest to many readers. Yet, that is just one out of thousands of books coming from small markets.
That said, I would not discourage anyone from trying to gain greater exposure for their work. Persistence in querying major publishers can pay off, if the approach is professional and well researched.
Part of that professional approach is to make sure that all your writing is the best it can possibly be. I realize that your question was probably written quickly and you most likely did not think that the errors mattered since this was just a question to a blog. However, all writing matters, whether it is on a blog or elsewhere. That is especially important for your first approach to a potential publisher. Your query letter should be polished and error free. That may mean the letter is written and rewritten several times until it is concise, smooth, and has no typos or misspellings.
The other part of making a professional approach is to do your research about the publishers. How do they want the submission made? Query only first? Don’t think that you can disregard that guideline for any reason. Do their FAQ tell you clearly what genres they accept? Don’t decide to send something else just because you think it is so good they have to consider it. Do they accept phone calls to follow up on a submission? If not, respect that. One of the first marks of a professional is that he or she can follow directions.
With the Internet, that market research can be done from the comfort of your home. To find a specific publisher, you can simply Google the name and find a Web site. For comprehensive lists you can visit sites like Writer's Net Agent Query and Publishers Marketplace. They all have information about publishers and/or agents, as well as helpful tips on writing query letters and preparing submissions.
Posted by Maryann Miller, who believes that an editor's job is to edit, not rewrite the book. Visit Maryann's Web site for information about her editing services and her books. When she is not working, Maryann loves to play farmer on her little ranch in East Texas.