Publishing houses are like books and authors. Not every book is for every reader. Authors become recognized for the work they produce. In the same way, every publisher has a specific audience, one that is demographically unique from the publisher across town. To use Seth Godin’s buzz term, they each have a unique tribe, and publishers take their tribe very seriously. At the forefront of an editor’s acquisition decision is a question as to whether or not their customers are likely to purchase “this kind” of book from them.
For example, you wouldn’t expect to see National Geographic publish the next Avant-garde novel. Tyndale House isn’t going to publish a weekend romance novel that made Harlequin Romance publishers famous. To do so would insult their tribe, which would result in immediate harm to their reputation and revenue.
So as a writer, it’s your responsibility to find a publisher that matches your book’s genre and message. Regardless of the type of book you’re writing, you will find a few publishers that specialize in your genre, and many that don’t. To find the right publisher, try this simple exercise.
- The next time you are at the mall, take some time in the local book store, and peruse the shelf where you want to see your book some day.
- Look at the existing inventory, and find out what publishers are printing the books that are similar to the one you’re writing.
- You now have a list of the publishers you will want to approach. Look these publishers up on the web, and take note of the other books they publish. Make sure you are targeting a publisher that is a “good fit” for your book.
- Now work at getting the publisher’s permission to send a proposal.
As we continue exploring the publishing process, you will find that writing your book is only 1/2 of the work. (some publishers say that writing is less than a third of an author’s work). While you are still crafting your book and polishing chapters, start looking for a publisher. You will find that you can approach publishers while you are still writing. You can often secure an invitation for a book proposal before you cross the last ‘T’ and dot the last ‘I’.