7 Things to Know Before Sending Your Manuscript
You’ve worked long and hard on your new novel. The manuscript has been professionally edited and proofread several times. You are finally ready to submit your work to an agent or publisher. But which one? Who's the best firm for you? Finding the answer to these questions can be overwhelming.
You will often hear writers say “Writing the book was the easy part!” Those words could not be more true. Getting your novel published is the hard part. Much of it can be attributed to plain lack of knowledge. Given the great response I received from an article I recently wrote, How To Find The Right Publisher, I’ve decided to elaborate on a few points I made. For those of you who had questions, or asked for more details, I hope this article feeds your inner beast.
The Top Things You Should Know Before Sending Your Manuscript can be broken down into seven simple steps. Follow these, and you will be well on your way to finding the right publisher for your novel.
Step# 1: Write down what is important to you.
Write down what your expectations are for you and your book. Do you want to be on Amazon’s Top 100 List? Do you desire to be mentioned in USA Today? Or do you simply want to sell 5,000 copies during the first year your book is released? Whatever your goal is, write it down. In order to make any sort of progress, you must first know where you want to go.
Step# 2: Be realistic
Have a clear understanding of what a publisher actually does. In short, publishers only make your book available to purchase. That’s it. It would be wise to consider a hefty advance check and cushy marketing budget to be extremely rare. As a new author, it is near to impossible. You have to prove yourself as a profitable author before you can expect any cash advances and all-paid author tours.
Step# 3: Research your options.
Do your homework on all the potential publishers out there. There are hundreds to pick from. Trust me, if you have a well-written manuscript, there is a publisher out there eager to publish your book.
Step# 4: Make a list of potential publishers.
Not sure how to compile a list of publishers? Look at the verso page on some of your favorite books (specifically books written in your genre). Go to your local bookstore and write down publisher information. This will give you a healthy understanding of which firms publish works within your genre.
Take it a step further; look up these same books at Amazon.com. Amazon will offer book recommendations, based on your title choice. Review these recommendations and make note of the publishers. Remember, not all books are readily available in brick and mortar bookstores. You will have a wider selection trying this method.
Step# 5: Is the publisher’s website functional?
Referencing your list of publishers, visit each website. Do they sell books through their site? How easy is it to navigate through their site? Is it user friendly? Do they mention the author’s website?
Many publishers sell books through their website (i.e. Ellora’s Cave). This allows for a higher royalty percentage for the author because the publisher is not paying an affiliate to distribute the book. This is a good thing, but if the website is difficult to navigate through, or doesn’t rank high on search engines, or (even worse) doesn’t work properly; be concerned. Consider this a serious drawback. A publisher’s website is often the single source where your royalty percentage is highest. If the publisher does little to promote their own website, that says a lot about how they handle external money making avenues.
Step# 6: Do a case study
Using a book from your favorite author (within your genre), Google the book title and author’s name. Make note of all the places that sell the book. Are there any sites where the book is mentioned that you wouldn’t want your own book located? If so, make a note of this. Depending on your personal views, this may be a deal breaker for you.
Step# 7: Is the price right?
During your case study research, you should have noticed the different price points the book sold for. Ask yourself if the book was priced right. Was it too high? Was it too low?
My first publisher sold ebook versions of my novel for a whopping $4.50 per. I never liked this price. The book was selling well below its value (often half the price of my competitors). As a buyer, you might think this is a great deal. However, from a business standpoint, you must be aware low prices affect your royalty return. Author royalties range between 35%-7%, depending on the publisher and transaction mode (we will talk about this later). Low prices mean you will have to sell more books in order to get a decent return on royalties.
Overall, the point I am making is don’t accept the first thing offered to you. You do yourself, and your book, a huge disservice by not researching a potential publisher thoroughly. Do your due-diligence. Educate yourself. Ask questions. It never hurts to come to the negotiating table with a more informed perspective.
-Tiffany Ashley, Author
‘Romance’s Best Kept Secret’
If you found this article helpful please read, Common Mistakes Writers Make.