Oh, if I had a dollar for every inquiry I received about finding a publisher. My answer today is different than it was December 2009. It used to be that I’d tell someone to only solicit a publisher that published the same genre as their book, to go to their website and make sure it wasn’t already published, then craft a flawless outline and proposal that would sell the idea to the publisher.
My answer today is a question: why do you want a publisher?
In today’s world of Kindle, Microsoft Office 2007, Mac, iPad, and social media, you don’t need a publisher. If it’s all about riches, you’re barking up the wrong tree. For every J.K. Rowling, there are a million me’s who barely made $3,000 accumulated in five years off an international bestselling book. Plus the process takes a year, on average, from the time the book is accepted until it goes to print. Don’t quit your day job.
A book gives you credibility, a sense of accomplishment, and is a platform for your message.
The myth that a publisher is the white knight that rides in, scoops up your book, makes it a bestseller, and you just have to rack up your bank account has always been a myth. Today is no different.
So if it’s all about getting your story out, why did you need a publisher again? Learn new media. Learn how to use your computer software. Hire a graphic designer to professionally layout your book and send it to a book printer. You can do all this stuff yourself and keep total control. Whether you print from a Word document, use a print on demand service, or just save the Word doc into a PDF e-doc or put it on Kindle, you can still ensure quality by hiring an editor. You can still ensure quality by editing the layout. And you keep complete control. In fact, you make WAY more money self-publishing than going to a publisher.
Do the math. One hundred percent of the cover cost versus five or ten percent of the cover cost. And if it’s an e-book on Kindle that you sell for $9.99, you will make several dollars more per unit than a publisher will pay you for a $20.00 print book. And for that privilege of getting a publisher, you give up control.
Perhaps I’m cynical. I do have a wonderful relationship with my publisher Self-Counsel Press. Their distribution helped me get lots of clients from the book (even though actual book sales barely covered my coffee costs). But the world has changed and publishers have refused to change with it. They choose books for their lists based on how it might do in a bookstore. The next time you’re in a brick and mortar bookstore, look at the demographic actually in the store shopping (and look at how many people are buying books off the aisles). Like newspapers, the book industry is catering to an older audience — over 60, by not embracing new marketing opportunities (or marketing period) or acknowledging they have to change their business model. So unless your name is Theoren Fleury or you’re really good at bringing people to a bookstore (when you’re not doing a book signing), then if you really want to get your book published, just do it. You don’t need the rejection. If a publisher produces 100 titles a year, it receives more than 5,000 pitches for those spots. And regardless of the book’s marketing potential (especially if you already have a built-in audience) a publisher only looks at a book with it’s brick and mortar blinders. It’s generally conservative and a topic that’s already been published.
Publishers, prove me wrong.