Tired of sending out pitches and not hearing back? Follow these 10 steps to supercharge your chances of success. As traditional publishers ourselves at Exisle Publishing and EK Books, we receive far more pitches than we can respond to. Those from authors who show evidence of having followed the steps below stand out, and almost always get a response of some kind:
1. Understanding the Publishing Landscape
Recognize that the publishing industry is continually seeking new manuscripts as it operates in a highly competitive market. Publishers prefer authors they can build relationships with, prioritizing those whose works align with their existing list.
2. Initiate Detective Work
Begin researching suitable publishers well before your book is finished. This research involves comparing similar titles to understand your manuscript's potential position in the market. Analyze the genres, formats, and illustration styles that various publishers prefer. Remember, trends evolve, so refer to publishers’ websites to understand their current preferences and don’t just rely on visible new releases.
3. Explore Online Retailers
Use resources like Amazon and Booktopia to identify books in your genre and gather useful statistics and insights, such as sales rankings, page extent, and dimensions. This information can help in building a business case for your proposal.
4. Visit Libraries and Bookstores
Evaluate how your book compares to those on the shelves and understand the specific category or shelf your book belongs to. Make clear categorical choices as it is essential for your proposal's positioning.
5. Hone Your Salesmanship Skills
Identify the publisher that can best help you reach your target audience and strive to make your proposal stand out. Publishers seek authors who can provide compelling statistics, have a good profile, active social media presence, and are considered experts in their fields. You should understand the various stakeholders in a publishing house and tailor your proposal to address their concerns and expectations.
6. Be Selective and Proactive
Choose your preferred publisher and find out who the right contact person is within the publishing house, the one who can champion your proposal. This might involve attending writers' festivals, reading trade newsletters, and sometimes even directly contacting the editor or publishing director. Addressing the right person can significantly enhance the likelihood of your manuscript being considered.
7. Craft a Compelling Submission
When approaching publishers, avoid the 'slush pile’ of unsolicited manuscripts. Adhere strictly to the submission guidelines of the publishers that do accept unsolicited manuscripts. A well-crafted query letter, targeted at the right person and showcasing your knowledge of the publisher's list and your marketability, can increase your chances of being invited to submit your proposal.
8. Communicate Effectively
Once you’ve identified your contact, strive for a conversation before sending in your proposal. Listen carefully to any advice or insight they might offer and incorporate it to make your book more appealing to them.
9. Send a Comprehensive Proposal
When submitting your proposal, include all relevant information such as the full concept, the entire story and its narrative arc or chapter breakdown, any required illustrations, your assessment of price and marketplace, an analysis of comparable titles, your marketing ability, your experience as a writer, and your knowledge of the subject. Do not discuss royalties or payment at this stage.
10. Present Professionally
Ensure your proposal is clear, professionally researched, and well-written. If your concept is likable and your proposal meets the publisher's expectations, discussions regarding payments and royalties will usually follow without major issues.