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How to Send a Book to a Publisher
If you have finished your novel you will no doubt be considering what to do with it next. It may be that you decide to go straight down the self-publishing route, and want to get your book out there as soon as possible. However, for many authors the dream is to have their novel accepted by a publisher – and so preparing your manuscript to send to publishers is the next natural step.
Thoroughly understanding the process of sending your book to a publisher is important, and while different publishers require different things, there are some universal rules which you need to follow in order to give yourself the best chance of success.
Writing a Book Proposal
Your book proposal is your opportunity to sell your book to the publisher. They will expect you to have done some research into your genre and your target audience. You need to tell them why your book will appeal to them, and why people will buy it. Research books that are selling well in your genre and draw a comparison – but also explain why your book gives even more. You should be able to persuade that not only will fans of the genre want to pick up your book, but also that it has a unique pull, and fits into a niche that perhaps hasn’t been considered before.
Try asking yourself the following question:
Why is my book important? Be extremely self-critical. Agents and publishers need to be convinced. Imagine someone looking at you, shrugging and saying ‘so what? who cares?’ That’s what you are up against. You need to be persuasive.
Use your proposal to sell yourself too. Mention any qualifications or achievements, past publications, and impressive reviews. if you already have an established fan base or audience, let them know. If you have a solid social media following this is also worth pointing out, if you’ve got thousands of Twitter followers, or a popular blog for example – that is a lot of people who you can directly market your book to.
Include a title page with your name, address, and email. Then sum up your work in a single sentence. This is extremely tough. Finding that perfect sentence that captures the essence of your book may seem impossible, but keep working on it and you’ll get there.
Next you can include a more lengthy book description, but still only a couple of paragraphs long. Try going into a bookstore and reading the back of book covers in your genre to help inspire you.
Typically, your proposal should also include a synopsis and sample chapters from your manuscript. What is specifically required of you varies from publisher to publisher so it is important to make sure you read their submission guidelines thoroughly and then follow these to a T. You may not agree with all of them, but providing information that they did not ask for is a huge no-no and could risk your manuscript being thrown on the slush pile before it’s even been read.
Sending your book proposal
Always do your research before you send your book proposal to a particular publisher. Are they really right for you? You need to explain to them why they are a good fit, and why you have chosen them to sell your work. Remember nowadays many larger publishers require manuscripts to be sent via an agent, so if you want to see your work considered by the big guns you need to first land yourself an agent. Smaller, independent publishing houses are more likely to accept submissions directly from the author. There are plenty of websites and books which provide contact information for agents and publishers as well as other useful information such as the genre they read or publish.
Be strategic and organised when sending your manuscript. Make a list of all the publishers that are right for you and work through them. It is considered bad practice to send your manuscript to a huge number of publishers at the same time. However, because they often take over six months to get back to you, it is understandable that you don’t want to operate on a ‘one in one out’ policy. Pick three or four publishers to send to and then when you hear back from one, you can then send to another one, and so on.
If a publisher wants to see more
If you hear back from a publisher and they want to see your full manuscript this is very exciting. However, make sure you do everything you can to ensure that your book is in the best shape it can be. If you have an agent they will help you get your book into a good marketable condition. If you don’t, try employing the services of a professional book editor.
Remember, you only have one chance to impress. If a publisher asks for amendments then it’s important to keep an open mind. Only you know how much a publishing deal means to you, and only you know how much of your story you would be willing to change in order to make that happen. When your manuscript is ready, again it is important to format and submit it exactly as the publisher requests it. If you have gotten this far it would be a shame to fall at the final hurdle after all!
If you do get an offer from a publishing house, or (you never know) more than one, it is important to ensure the offer is right for you. It can be all too easy to sign everything away in the giddy excitement of actually having achieved your dream. But remember, this is a business deal and while you should be excited and enthusiastic, it is important to read through all the terms of the proposal and negotiate anything you are not comfortable with.
Sending a book proposal takes a lot of work, but doing it right is so worth it, and knowing you have done everything correctly means you can feel confident you have given yourself the very best chance of success.