Most writers are of the opinion that publishers choose them, rather than the other way around. The very language and setup of the process we use leads us to believe this.
Firstly the writer approaches the publisher with a query and then we submit. In order to enforce for us, the very depths to which we’ve submitted, it’s industry practice for us to wait, hopefully, for months on end, while publishers consider our submission. We’re discouraged from calling them personally or even hoping for confirmation of their receipt of our manuscript. Further to this, most big publishers still prefer submissions in hard copy, so not only do we submit, we pay for the privilege (via printing and postage costs).
Lately though, I’ve begun to view the process differently. For the second book in my Willow series, Foley Russel And That Poor Girl, I took a much more empowered approach to the submission process. I decided that as the book deals with cystic fibrosis as a topic, it is quite obviously aimed at a niche market. A big, mainstream publisher therefore, was not the best thing for the book. Why not? Well, mainstream publishers use pretty much the same promo and marketing techniques for every book they produce. Their books go onto the shelves of bookstores and that’s it.
Bookstores, by the way, are absolutely the WORST places for selling books. Do I want to put my relatively unknown name on a shelf next to Garth Nix and PC Cast? Hell no. Even if I stood out from those names, my book would be in direct competition with thousands of other books in the same location, for just a wee bit of attention. That’s why niche marketing works better for me. Who’s going to be interested in a niche marketing process? A small, possibly indie publisher with the desire to carve out their own niche in an otherwise generic industry.
So for Foley, I chose the publishers to whom I submitted, very carefully. I got timely responses from them all and acceptances from two. Why? Because the book is well suited to the publisher and their needs. They’re small and flexible enough to employ processes specific to selling the book. In addition to this, they’re asking for my input and ideas with regard to audience and promo ideas AND they’re willing to support these ideas with finances and services.
No, they don’t pay an advance as big as the giant publishers, but that’s not the point is it? I’m willing to sacrifice a massive advance for a thoughtful, respectful and unique approach to the book. I guess that’s really my point isn’t it? You need to choose the publisher that will give you what you want. You need to get past being ‘needy’ and desperate for publication and take a more empowered approach. Take up your manuscript and believe that you can actually choose the publisher who suits you and your book…because you can…in fact you should!