Published: September 22, 2004
|In Marilyn Ross' article titled "Untangling self-publishing options" (June 2004), The Writer invited readers to send in a few questions about self-publishing. Here are Ross' answers.|
I have self-published a mystery and have successfully self-marketed it. Which publishers might be interested in my book?
I could just name off publishers for you, but that would be like giving a person a fish instead of teaching them how to fish, so here goes:
Research in Literary Market Place, which is the bible of resources for the publishing industry. To do so, get ye to a major library or go online at www.literarymarketplace.com and subscribe for their very affordable rate of $19.95 for one week. Go to Volume 1 under "Book Publishers" and then to the "Subject Index" in that section. You'll find dozens upon dozens of publishers that specialize in mysteries. (Of course, this works for other genres as well.) Then go back to the alphabetical listing for each publisher and call to be sure the editor and other contact info is accurate.
Another trick is to go to the mystery section of a good bookstore and look on its shelves under your topic. Read each book's Acknowledgments page. This often lists names of agents or editors and can lead you to a bonanza. Additionally, find titles similar to yours. Mysteries have several subgenres; glean the names of publishers that deal with your type. While you're there, talk with the book buyer for that section and ask which publishers he or she feels do the best job of promoting their authors and titles.
How does one go about getting a self-published book picked up by distributors so it can be sold in bookstores?
Once again, I'd refer you to LMP. Look in Volume 2 under "Sales & Distribution" and also "Wholesalers." Most listings note what type of product they're looking for. Ingram Book Group is the largest wholesaler, but it is not self-publisher-friendly. Baker & Taylor, the second largest, is, and you can get on with them for no charge--or pay $295 if you are more serious about having them stock your book. Neither of these is an exclusive distributor, so line up as many others as you can, especially one that serves your area. Ask you local bookstore who that is.
Realize, however, that you must first have created a quality product if you hope to interest distributors and wholesalers. That includes a snappy title, dramatic cover, well-edited and well-designed interior, plus all the appropriate numbers and symbols (ISBN, LCCN, EAN scanning symbol).
Realize, also, that getting your book on the shelves is only one of the puzzle pieces. It's up to you to drive customers into the bookstores to buy those books! For help on that, get a copy of Jump Start Your Book Sales, written by me and my husband, Tom Ross (available from www.communicationcreativity.com/js). It has 25 chapters that deliver in-depth, doable strategies for getting PR and sales.
Thank you for your very informative article. I would like to ask you how to approach mainstream publishers who might like to buy the rights to a novel that has been printed by a POD publisher. (I own the copyright.) What will attract a mainstream publisher? Should I send a query? Sample chapters? A review copy? Are there some things one should NOT say? I have a few local reviews, but it is very difficult to get national reviews for a POD novel by an unknown author. Thank you for any suggestions.
Since you have a finished book, send it! Also include the elements you would with a normal book proposal: a brief synopsis, who the audience is, detailed author bio, any positive publicity you've generated, what marketing and promotional angles you'd suggest, and how your product stacks up against the competition. I'd put a brief cover letter over all this indicating your willingness to get behind the book yourself ... don't expect much from their PR department. Good luck!
I was wondering if you have a list of reputable self-publishers for someone starting out. I have poetry manuscripts that I am interested in self-publishing and I am not sure where to start.
I'm afraid I must not have conveyed to you what self-publishing really is. You are the self-publisher. You might want to find editors, book designers or book manufacturers to help in the process. I'd suggest you get a copy of our Complete Guide to Self-Publishing (available from www.communicationcreativity.com/g) so that you really understand this exciting (and potentially expensive) venture before you start. Print on Demand (POD) may be the smartest way to go for poetry, as you'll probably only want a hundred or so copies. You can find tons of these companies by entering the term in any search engine. Check out their references carefully.
--Posted Sept. 22, 2004