Writing and Publishing News for October 17th through November 1st

Here’s what I’ve tagged for October 17th through November 1st:

How Do You Get in Touch with a Publisher?

This question came from Sanket Dantara in Bombay, India, on LinkedIn: “How do you get in touch with a publisher? Is there some directory of publishers? Do you just cold call them?”

I don’t know any publishers in Bombay, but I thought the same general approach would probably work anywhere:

The usual process is: find the publishers who produce books in your subject area. Up-to-date contact information and submission guidelines can be found in Writer’s Market for English-language (and particularly US-based) book and magazine publishers; if you want a publisher in India, the check-the-library (or check-the-bookstore) method may work better.

While you’re checking, see whether any of those authors mentions an agent in the acknowledgements, then see whether you can find contact info for the agent.

In general, you send a query letter to the agent or publisher, who then asks to see a proposal including a detailed marketing plan and a short sample of the book. (Or says “No, thank you.”) If the publishers like the proposal and think they can make back their investment in your book, they’ll offer you an advance and a deadline for the completed manuscript.

Competition is fierce for English-language books; most first-time authors get many rejections before finding a publisher, if they ever do. It may be that the supply-and-demand ratio is better in India.

You can skip all these steps and self-publish. There are many Print-on-Demand houses that will make your book available to order online without charging you much up front. In order to produce a professional book, however, you’ll need to hire your own copyeditor, book designer, and cover artist. This could get pricey.

By “check-the-bookstore method,” I mean go to the section of the bookstore (or library) where books similar to yours are shelved and write down the publishers’ names and addresses from inside the book’s title page. Almost all publishers have websites these days, and many of them provide submission guidelines. I first learned this trick (as it applied to finding possible agents for books) in Susan Page’s classic, The Shortest Distance between You and a Published Book.