So, you have your book as polished as you can get it and you’re ready to send it out into the world. You’ve done your research and decided that you want to go the small press route. Awesome! Being a partner in Ellysian Press for the last year has taught me so very much of what to do…and what not to do. Here are some basic tips:
1. Only submit to presses who publish your genre and are currently accepting submissions. No sense wasting your time if you write fantasy and they are only accepting horror at that time.
2. Make your query letter professional and follow standard query letter guidelines. And make it personal! It’s easy to find out the name of the person to whom you should submit, so include that. “Dear Sir/Madam” is a big turn-off for some. Keep it to the point. Don’t ramble or add in info that doesn’t apply. Keep it short. However, if there is a specific reason you want to be with that publisher, let them know.
Also, you want your blurb right up front. Add any other important info such as previously published work after the blurb.
3. Follow the publisher’s submission guidelines. Be very careful with this as most presses have specific things they want. Do they want a sample? If so, how long? Don’t send fifty pages if they ask for ten. It’s usually okay to go over by a paragraph or two if you have a natural stopping point, but don’t go over or under by too much. If they want a short synopsis, send one to two pages. If they want the sample in the body of the email, don’t send it as an attachment. Some presses will not open attachments in a query.
4. Don’t nudge too soon if you don’t hear back right away. Some companies have a turn-around response time listed, but most don’t. If it’s a press you particularly want to be with, and they don’t answer within two months, it should be okay to gently nudge.
5. Do your due diligence on the publisher. What do you want from a press? Does their “About” page fit in with your expectations? Be sure you understand what that press really does for their authors. Some do no marketing at all, so be prepared for that. Others do marketing to varying degrees. Some have a long queue of books and the publishing turn-around time is going to be different for each press. Your book could be out in several months or it could take over a year. Most small presses will not pay an advance, so be aware of that. Talk to the press’ published authors. Are they still happy and would they recommend the press?
The best thing you can do for yourself is to do your research on every aspect of getting published – from writing your query letter to how to format the manuscript to editing. The more you know, the easier it will be for you once you do sell your book and start the process.
If you have questions, feel free to ask. 🙂