Approaching a small press publisher

Somebody recently asked for our advice on how to approach publishers which got me thinking. I can only speak about the small press but after being on the publishing side for a little while this is how I would do it:

Each press is an individual case so the best thing to do is research the press as much as possible and then pitch your book based on what you’ve learned about them. The key is to show how your book fits into the direction the press is going in and will appeal to their target audience. Read some of their releases to get a feel for what they’re publishing. If you can meet them personally at conventions it’s great to have that contact or try to get in touch with them about something other than your work at first. Introduce yourself and ask questions about their press and what they’re looking for. It’s not necessary to pitch a book as soon as you contact a press. It’s just good to get them to know who you are.

Find out what the submission process is for the press. Maybe they take unsolicited submissions or maybe not. They might want the whole manuscript or just a synopsis. If you can’t find this info anywhere contact the press with a query about your work. You might want to send a proposal letter that explains how you think your work will fit into what the publisher is doing and any selling points your work has. When you send your work include your publishing credits, info on any events or promotional things you’ve done as an author, quotes/reviews of your work. Basically treat it like a job interview. I know the standard procedure is query the publisher and send only what they ask for (first 3 chapters, synopsis, etc.) but a small press publisher is not only evaluating your work but how easy it is to work with you and how well you fit into what they are doing. If you can convince them that you bring more to the table than just another book that will greatly increase your chances.

The thing is while you’re doing your research you may often find that the press you’re looking into is not a good home for your book. Although this is frustrating and you want to get your book out there it doesn’t help either the author or the press if the work doesn’t appeal to the press’ target audience.

Of course all this just comes from my personal experience and may not apply universally and probably doesn’t work for big publishing houses.

current mood: thoughtful
current music: The Vines – Highly Evolved