Studying a Market

Saturday, May 12, 2012
There’s nothing easy about finding the right publisher for your work, but here are some questions to ask yourself as you look for just the right home for your manuscript.

Ask These Questions as You Study the Catalog:

  • How many (romances/mysteries/biographies/fill in your category) do they publish each season? A market listing can include a wide variety of categories, ranging from adventure to fantasy in fiction and from reference to social issues in nonfiction. Although the publishers market listing may show interest in a wide variety of books, study their catalog to see what they have actually been buying. If you have written a biography and they only produce one a year, this doesn’t mean you should scratch this publisher off your list but they probably shouldn’t be your first choice.
  • How would you describe this publisher’s taste in books? When I was looking for romance publishers to interview for an article, I noted that some publishers filled their lists with trendy titles teaming with vampires, werewolves and other paranormals. Other publishers wanted only contemporary. Still others featured covers filled with brocade bodices. A publisher who actively avoids trendy titles may be interested in your romance that another editor passed on because all of the characters were human.
  • Is the book part of a series or do they publish only stand alone titles? If they go for series, this is a publisher who knows that their readers want to spend time with specific characters through multiple story lines. Conversely, a publisher who only puts out stand alone’s won’t be the best match for your series.
  • Did the titles in this publisher’s catalog first appear overseas? Some publishers fill their lists with books that were initially published in another country. You may have to examine the books themselves to puzzle this one out. Look for a translator and check for multiple copyright dates, including some for country specific rights. A publisher who seems like a perfect match, but fills their list with books published first in Australia or Germany probably isn’t your best choice.
  • Last but not least, who are this publisher’s authors? If you find numerous authors with only one or two books with this publisher, you have a much better chance of making a sale than if all of the authors have a long list of titles with this house. Also check to see if the authors are celebrities, professionals writing books in their field, debut authors, or award winning authors. Only you know which category you fall into.

Collect this kind of information and maximize your chances of getting a YES on your submission.


Author Sue Bradford Edwards blogs at One Writer's Journey.


Margo Dill said...

Great points here, Sue. I think it is so important to save yourself time in the long run and make sure you are sending to someone who could possibly publish your type of work!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Definitely. Since I've started comparing market listings to actual catalogs, I've been surprised at how often they differ and by how much.

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