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Sending off your book- How many publishers should you approach?

Sending off a manuscript is terrifying. It is adrenalin inducing, heart-stopping stuff for any writer. But so many writers bail or fail at this critical point. They send their book off to a publisher and get a rejection letter. Then they put it in a bottom drawer and don’t send it again. This is not called submitting a book! Submitting a book is a long process that requires work and persistence.


This is NOT the time to be shy or hold back.


Do you believe in this book? 


Did you invest your time in it?


Now change gear from a writer into a sales person and get this book SOLD! And remember that selling a book is a process of securing a deal in which a publisher agrees to print your book, carry the printing, distribution and marketing costs and share some of the profit with you.


​Here are a few essential steps you need to take and some advice from an agent who does this a lot. ​


 

Sending off a manuscript is terrifying. It is adrenalin inducing, heart-stopping stuff for any writer. But so many writers bail or fail at this critical point. They send their book off to a publisher and get a rejection letter. Then they put it in a bottom drawer and don’t send it again. This is not called submitting a book! Submitting a book is a long process that requires work and persistence.


 


This is NOT the time to be shy or hold back.



Do you believe in this book? 


Did you invest your time in it?



 Now change gear from a writer into a sales person and get this book SOLD! And remember that selling a book is a process of securing a deal in which a publisher agrees to print your book, carry the printing, distribution and marketing costs and share some of the profit with you.



​Here are a few essential steps you need to take and some advice from an agent who does this a lot. 



Narrow your search


Hopefully if you have read my posts or done any of the courses you know all about genre. This is your starting point in writing and this is where you are going to focus your submission process. It is critical to only send your book to a publisher or agent who works in your genre. This is going to take work. You need to google them and get a short-list of publishers. Then refine your search to the particular commissioning editor who handles your specific genre. Don't send your book on Gardening on a Budget to a publisher who works publishes Scifi. You need to be specific and focussed. This information you need to get online. Get to the nitty gritty, not just CRIME, but do they like your kind of crime story (a forensic detective story). 



Cast your net wide. 


You have got to send your book out to as many publishers and agents as possible. And then you need to keep sending it out. Now this is not as easy as it seems. As an agent I send good manuscripts to ALL the publishers I work with. This is not a loyalty game - you are trying to find one that actually reads the MS so you need to be bold. Is your book in English? Then look at all the English speaking countries as a first stop. UK, Ireland, Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa. 



Send to at least TWENTY query letters on your first shot. 


Yes that's right. At least 20. This is tough as you may have to really search to find 20 publishers in your genre. But look around.  I do work with some writers who are writing in the field of religion. IF you are in very niche market you may have a limited number of possible publishers or agents. Any sales person will tell you that sales is a numbers game. The more people you contact the better chance you have of a sale. Well now you are selling your book so start working the numbers! 



Separate emotions from your MS


You have done your best now put it to rest. You are going to have to get honest feedback and send it out to be read by very critical people. If you send out 20 query letters you may be 8 replies. Of those one may be positive. See what I mean when I say it is a numbers game. 



Check it's your best effort (before you send)


Hopefully by the time you send it out it is in a good condition. You have done your best edit, you have proofread it and you have got a few kind friends to give you feedback.  This book has taken you a long time so make sure it's as good as it could be. 



Get feedback on your covering letters and synopsis


Remember all you are going to send will be these, along with your first three chapters. So make sure these sing. Get friends to read them and then work them to perfection. 



Bank on some negative feedback. 


Not everyone is going to love your book. That's ok. You don't love every book in the bookshop do you? That is not what you need. You don't have to appeal to every publisher or reader, just one publisher or agent. 



Be persistent


I need to be persistent as an agent. And you need to be equally so as a writer. I have recently spent close to 12 months following up a single manuscript sent to a publisher on a commission. So this book was commissioned by them! But the commissioning agent was 'very busy' and just didn't get to it. Then she went on holiday. Then maternity leave. For every email I sent to follow up, only about one out of five were returned. I am the agent in this transaction so it is my job to keep going. But let me tell you that if I was the book's writer I would have taken it very personally, and given up or just thought they had dropped me. In fact it turns out that the publishing company does want the book, they just moved that particular imprint out a year and we got lost in the day to day of running a big imprint. So don't give up. If the book is 'in play', you need to keep playing. You will know it is no longer in play when they tell you. It will be something like this.. "Thank you for your submission but we will not be publishing your book / Thank you but this book is not for us, best of luck." That's a no. Now move onto the next mailshot of 20. 




Writing any book takes a huge commitment of your time, faith and yourself. But so many writers bail at this critical point.  This is NOT the time to be shy or hold back. Of course it is wonderful to find an agent and they do all this for you, but agents are rare and you may have to submit yourself. I also know that It is very hard to promote yourself and if you do feel you cannot find the courage - then find a friend who can do it for you. But the best submissions come from the writers themselves. 



Always remember that publishers are in the business of looking for exciting new books. 



If you want to be successful, and a published author you need to have three things. You need a completed book, you need buckets of courage and you need some luck. So do the work, send it out and leave some of it to fate. 



For a free list of US agents click www.agentquery.com



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