The Scary Scene of Publishing (and how to choose which one)

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A few days ago, I saw that my old publishing company, Tate Publishing, had closed. I knew it was going through some financial strain– but I had no idea that the doors were about to close forever, and it, along with a question from an old friend about publishing companies.

Tate Publishing, the company that published my novel (about which we shall not talk) is closed. I’m unclear as to whether I have my rights back for the story, and so far I haven’t been able to discover that.

But we’re here to talk about your book, not mine. How do you choose a company? How do you get a company to choose you? I’m no master, but here’s what I know:

Establish your genre. Are you writing a steampunk? A historical fiction? A relationship story? A chick-lit? There are hundreds of genres. Find yours. Employ that label to your story.
Now. Google your favorite books in that genre. Notice who published them. Was it one of the big 5? Was it CreateSpace? Make a physical list. I’m going to guess that mostly, your favorite books were published by big-name authors who had either an agent, or a contract with one of the well-known companies, or both.

Don’t let this discourage you.

Go and research the submission guidelines to all those companies you wrote down. Sometimes, the bigger companies have imprints that will allow an author to pitch their work directly to an acquisitions agent. Sometimes, they have one week out of the entire year that anyone can submit a manuscript. Gather all the knowledge you can.

I’m going to take a short break and say that if you have never been published at all before, do one of two things: 1) put away that awesome manuscript and come back in a year. Make sure you’ve been writing and learning all that time. See if you still love it. If the answer is yes, continue searching for a publisher. (Take it from me, there is nothing worse than being ashamed of something you have published) 2) self-publish.

But there’s no money in self-publishing. But people look down upon authors who self-publish.

Neither of the above statements is strictly true. Amazon has this great deal where if you self-publish through them, and you do well, they offer you a contract from one of their actual publishing company imprints. I think that’s a great way to start out.

Buy and read e-zines that accept stories. There are a bunch of these. Just Google it. You need to establish a rabid readership so when that time comes, you have a line of people waiting to buy your book.

One last note and I’ll probably do a blog post on this soon: You want to get an editor. I’m not saying that because I am one, but you really do. If your sister has a degree in English, that’s great, and by all means, have her read your story (and preferably about a dozen other people too- the more impartial the better. It’s really nice to get that pat on the back from family and close friends who love your story, but chances are, their love for you will blind their editing effectiveness). But do yourself a favor and pay someone to look over your story. It’s worth it.

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