Guest post by Kerry Colburn and Jen Worick from The Business of Books. Originally published here.
When you are developing your manuscript and your book proposal, start developing your wish list, those dream publishers or agents with whom you’d love to sign. As you peruse the shelves or search competitive titles online, pay particular notice to who’s publishing each title. Notice if certain publishers keep coming up again and again, which might indicate that they publish regularly into that category or genre. For instance, if you are researching spiritual books, you might find that Hay House or Thomas Nelson crop up again and again. Write them down; they might be the first publishing houses you add to your wish list.
Now, the fun part. Investigate those publishers! Hop online and look at each publisher individually. Note what books they are promoting on their home page, and then search by genre. See if they offer a mission statement or an explanation of their different imprints. Do you like what you see? Will your book feel at home here? This is an easy exercise that you can do in your pajamas or while watching TV.
If you think the publisher may be a good fit for your book, check out their Submission Guidelines. Virtually all publishers offer them online. Here, you’ll find out if they take unsolicited proposals or if you’ll need to work with an agent. They may also indicate how to send the proposal (e-mail vs. snail mail), how many pages it can be, response time, and other pertinent details.
Some other fun ways to compile your publishing wish list:
- Look through your own bookshelf and make a list of the publishers of your favorite books. Jot down any names that may be on the acknowledgements pages.
- Write down the sections of the bookstore where your book idea could possibly live, aside from the obvious.
- Make a separate wish list of the qualities you’d like in your publisher (lots of hands-on interaction with editor, big book advance, prestige, etc.). Now rank them in order of importance. When looking over your list, take into account these priorities.
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