By Jennifer S. Wilkov, host of the “Your Book Is Your Hook!” Show on WomensRadio
The Literary Agent Matchmaker™
As authors and writers, we’re always learning about resources and industry tools that we can use to improve our book project performance and the enjoyment of our writing and marketing experiences. Today let’s talk about the personality and purpose of a publisher.
Similar to literary agencies, each publisher has particular books and genres they prefer to produce and publish. Some may have several imprints under which they publish a variety of books and others may only have one publishing company.
Each publisher and editor of a publishing house or imprint chooses which books they will publish. Similar to literary agents, this is a business decision – one in which the publisher or editor is scrutinizing the project for a viable return on their significant investment of manpower and money required to produce and distribute the book.
Some publishers may publish hundreds of books a year; others may publish ten or less. Either way, what they choose to publish and their mandate for projects may stay the same or it may change. They may add imprints that are dedicated to particular genres of books to brand that imprint by its particular title selections and expand their publishing portfolio.
If you are interested in the larger publishing houses, do some research and find out which imprints represent your book’s genre in the Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster, Random House, Harper Collins, Harlequin and other large publishers. The more you know about the industry, the better your experience will be as an author and as a partner with your literary agent.
If you are interested in ebook publishing, get to know the options you have with each company that produces ebooks and understand what distribution they support for your book as well as the other services they provide.
If you are going to independently publish or self-publish your book, determine which company you want to work with or if you want to create a publishing company or imprint of your own.
This week’s guest, Aaron Patterson, built his own publishing companies, Stone House Ink and StoneGate Ink, to not only publish his books but to also publish those of other writers. With his two companies, he offers two opportunities for writers to be published by him. Stone House Ink is open to the public and writers and literary agents can submit projects for consideration. He also cleverly created a separate company, StoneGate Ink, that requires a referral from either an author who has been published by of one of his companies or a literary agent referral. No other writers are considered for publication by that company.
When I published my first book, Dating Your Money: How to Build a Long-Lasting Relationship with Your Money in 8 Easy Steps, I also built my own publishing house called E.S.P. Press Corp. I published four books of mine including those in the Dating Your Money series and then other people started asking me to publish their books. I made a conscious decision not to publish other people’s books and I also decided after publishing four books that I wanted someone else to publish my books too.
Being a publisher requires a keen eye for quality, attention to detail and a good business sense. It can be all-encompassing, leaving very little room for much of anything else. A high percentage of the books that are published, even by the big houses, fail to sell enough copies to recoup the initial investment made by the publisher. Making a decision to be at the helm of a ship that requires you to keep up with the industry changes and practices and also take on a great deal of risk may not be right for you. For others, it may make perfect sense.
In this day and age of consolidation and also expansion in the field of book publishing, writers have many choices about which ways they want to be published. Whether you choose to pursue a literary agent and the larger publishing companies or whether you decide that a small press or that self-publishing is better for your project, understand that whoever publishes your book will become a business partner. Get to know more about the company you publish with and read their contract completely. Discuss the contract with an intellectual property attorney and ask him or her to read the publishing contract with you. You also can use the resources to do this that may be provided by your membership in the National Writers Union, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and several other writers’ organizations who may offer a contract review service.
Nowadays, there are plenty of stories about publishers who have gone bankrupt and others who have promised to publish books that never make it to the shelf. Some of my past guests on my show have talked about the repercussions of experiences like these during their interviews and shared what they had to do to resurrect and reclaim their books.
Do your homework first and learn all that you can about a publisher before you work with them. Big or small, search the Internet and look up their catalog of books published. See if there are any industry news stories you’d want to be aware of regarding that publisher so you can discuss these with your agent or with the publisher directly.
Because your book is your hook, you want to protect your project and partner with the right publisher for it. In the end, whether you have a literary agent or not, it is you who partners with the publishing house and editor with your work. So be a wise business professional and understand the fine print, purpose and industry position of prospective partners before you sign away your project to just any publisher.
Jennifer’s show can be heard every week on Tuesday mornings at 9am when it is broadcast on WomensRadio.com and syndicated on Google News and Live365.com. Each show is archived for replay listeners in different time zones and countries.
For more information on this Education Corner topic and others, please refer to www.YourBookIsYourHook.com/blog for more articles and resources to help you with your books.